The mind map typically uncovers many things we could say about the consulting group. Where should we place our focus? This depends on what we are trying to promote, and to whom, as well as the strength of our messages.
Business goals should have been specified in the project brief. Examples might be “to let potential clients realize the superiority of our group relative to the competition” or “to let internal staff in other groups know about our work”. There may already be strategy documents in place showing how this project has to align with overall corporate objectives.
User goals will shape the types of information that gets selected, or the attention given to them. For example, internal and external stakeholders might want different explanations of the work done on a project: external stakeholders might want to know what was accomplished and the benefits realized; internal staff might want to know about the cool things their colleagues have done. Some level of user research and persona construction is valuable here to provide focus.
Illustrating The Scoping Process
Typical scoping questions might look like this.
Focus on Capabilities?
Capabilities are a high level statement of what we can do for a client (or as marketing tells us, what we can sell a client). Are we known for specific offerings (e.g. “The Content Management Gurus”) or will we do anything we can get our hands on? If we have several capabilities that we want to be known for, we could break them out.
In our case, we are a general purpose IT consultancy, with no major specialized offerings, so we do not give focus to capabilities.
Focus on Practices?
Practices are internal organizational units representing specific skills an competencies. Do we usually sell these one at a time? Are any distinctive(“User Experience”) or does every consulting group have them (“Business Analysts”)?
In our case, we have special strength in User Experience and Process Improvement, and want to call these out, so Practices is an area we want represented.
In an intranet setting, we might like to highlight practices as part of overall employee awareness of career choices.
Focus on Sector?
If we specialize in just one sector, then this could be part of the definition of the consulting group as a whole (“Content Management for the Energy Sector”).
If there are multiple sectors, do these reflect a chosen focus, or are they where we have happened to have picked up projects?
If the former, we would want to talk about our sectoral strength in some detail.
If the latter, we could simply tag our projects with the name of the sector. At some point in time, if we develop sectoral specialization, we can decide whether to aggregate the projects into a new area (“Showcasing Our Work In The Energy Sector”).
In our consulting group, we have done work in a lot of sectors, but coincidentally rather than by design, so we choose to simply tag projects with the name of the sector.
Focus on Team Members?
Are there reasons to describe the team members and their work? In a .com website, possibly not unless there are recognizable experts. We might want to have photos of the whole team, to show numbers and demographics.
In an intranet setting, we might like to highlight staff members for a variety reasons.
Focus on Track Record?
What can we say about our track record? Are there projects, social contributions, awards, patents?
In our case, our track record is our projects, which we keep as an area of focus. We do make social contributions, but don’t regard these as part of our permanent micro-site. They could of course be mentioned in press releases, keeping our presence visible.
Based on this, let us suppose that the business decides to focus on Practices and Projects. There are the key things that business wants to talk about, and content is available or can be created easily.
The target audience is potential customers. User research indicates that they are either primarily interested in our Practices (what we can do) or our Projects (what we have done), so there is good alignment.
As we will see, this is enough to give a site with a fair amount of interest and interactivity.
Now that we have chosen our initial scope, we turn to creating a detailed information model.