Lean Practices: Building a Better (Social Impact) Website

Behind the Scenes

Our nonprofit clients often have limited budgets, so how do we maintain quality in the face of constraints? Lean processes help us get there.

As a certified B Corporation, Message Agency works closely with mission-driven organizations. We are committed to serving any organization—regardless of their budget or resources—and this commitment often challenges us to constantly evolve our process to deliver value.

Social impact organizations focus on powerful and important work, so it is not surprising that website updates are not a top priority on their to-do lists or budgets. The notion that updating a website is a large and expensive project discourages organizations to explore website improvement, leading to years passing without updating their solutions or designs.

However, updating a website does not require a full re-design consisting of extensive amounts of time and money. With the challenges our clients face at top of mind, we’ve integrated lean and agile principles to improve our processes.

Lean Methodology

At the heart of lean methodology is the intent to maximize the value of a project while also minimizing waste, so we work to build quality products with minimal resources and time. Applying lean methodology to our process allows us to design and develop within the capacity of your organization—whether that involves transitioning a website to a content management system or creating a completely new website or application.

No project is the same, but our years of experience working with the social impact sector have cultivated a foundation of knowledge that our team draws upon. Even if you don’t know what your organization needs to improve its digital presence, we can find a way to help within your time or budget. We have learned how to scale our practice to add value, making design and process decisions in ways that align with the goals you prioritized. While our solution may not have all of the bells and whistles it could, lean processes help us find a way to serve your most immediate and pressing needs. We can always turn to addressing other goals—or the same goals in more sophisticated ways—in later phases.

Designing with Development in Mind

In keeping with lean methodology, we have structured our process with aspects of agile thinking. Part of our agile process includes ample collaboration across our specialty teams throughout the lifecycle of a project. One way we use agile thinking is to dedicate time in the initial planning stage for cross-team collaboration. Our development team is involved in our projects early in the process to ensure the designs are feasible within the scope and budget for the project.

Throughout the lifespan of a project, our researchers, designers, and developers are constantly working together to reduce the possibility of designing outside of the scope while still delivering the most robust product we can. This approach also allows developers to hit the ground running during the design hand-off, contributing to the speed of our lean process. Because we evaluate our designs early, it means we can deliver what we promise.

Websites as Living Organisms

The most impactful part of our process is the idea that websites are living organisms. As your organization grows and evolves, so should your website—meaning a project is never completely done. We design our sites with the administrator in mind and create flexible page architectures that let them transform the site as their needs emerge. We also provide services to support clients once a project is complete, which creates room for iterations and adjustments. Because we are in constant communication with a client after a product scope is completed, we are always brainstorming new ideas and areas of improvement, thus creating potential growth with our long-term clients!

By considering scope in our lean process and using agile thinking across teams, we work hard to make sure social impact organizations with a budget have the same opportunity for a powerful digital presence as any other company.