Kicking off an ambitious project

Who’s Who?

Supercool Supercool is a digital design agency. We provide consultancy and create websites, brands, and digital strategies that make life easier for arts, cultural, and heritage organisations. 

Birmingham Museums (BMT) has nine extraordinary venues that provide a fascinating glimpse into Birmingham’s rich and vibrant past and showcase world class museum collections.

Kate Mroczkowski is Strategy Director at Supercool. Kate helps organisations get the most out of their digital tools. For this project, Kate is lead Project Manager, working closely with Linda Spurdle at BMT to manage the new website project. 

More useful to more people

When I first read the brief for the new Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) website, the thing that jumped out was the goal for the trust to be “more useful to more people” with digital transformation identified as a key tool in achieving this. 

As a web development agency, it’s always exciting when the new website is part of a much bigger vision. When it’s going to have a big impact, not just on the end users, but on the organisation as a whole. 

But, big ideas and a clear vision don’t give us all the information we need, and as we kick off the project, we’ve got lots of questions. From understanding how the shop product lines will be developed to finding out how attached people are to the brand. So how do we gather all the information? With lots and lots of Discovery sessions. 

Discovery

Discovery sessions are an opportunity for us at Supercool to spend time with people across BMT. We ask questions, challenge assumptions, interrogate goals and generally gather as much information as we can. 

Discovery is one of the most time consuming parts of a new website project, especially for the Project Managers involved. We will spend around 15 hours each in Discovery meetings, and this doesn’t take into account the time spent planning and writing up notes! It requires a lot of diary management (getting everyone in the right place at the right time is a bit like herding cats!). It also requires a lot of concentration from the Project Managers who need to steer the conversation, tackle assumptions and answer questions about the project and our ideas.

For this project we’ve run the Discovery remotely. There are huge benefits to this, such as:

  • It reduces our carbon footprint by reducing travel
  • We can fit sessions around busy schedules, rather than trying to get everything done in a few days
  • We don’t need to worry about taking up valuable meeting room space at BMT (or spend budget on hiring space)
  • Online sessions can be more accessible for people, offering flexibility to join from home, online captions, and the option to record sessions.

There are also a few downsides to remote Discovery sessions. The main one being that we don’t get to build up quite the same rapport with the team, and it can lead to the Discovery phase running over multiple weeks, so we miss the intensive nature of running these in person over a couple of days. But these downsides are far outweighed by the benefits.

What’s Next

We’re now part way through Discovery. We’ve already had some really interesting conversations and we’ve got lots more to come. We’ll be talking about brand, site structure, analysing data, thinking about functionality and big ideas, all whilst keeping the end user and the goal of “more useful to more people” at the heart of everything.

By Kate Mroczkowski, Strategy Director at Supercool.

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