Winter is coming. And with that, you have dragons, beheadings, and mass uprisings happening. That aside, it also means the holidays are on the way and that means there’s going to be more stories popping up in Pivotal than your average chapter of Game of Thrones. You might be thinking that you’ve still got months and months before you need to start worrying about it, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The holiday season represents one of the biggest opportunities you have to drive your sales through the proverbial roof. That being said, you want to be able to take your time and mind that you’ve dotted your t’s and crossed your i’s – or better yet, do that the other way around and not have to make a last minute fix!
As a front end developer, something that may come up in the topic of conversation when ideating for the current year’s revelries, is the idea of a holiday skin. This can help to ensure that your promotions are ringing out and making the connection that they need to. It can be tempting to restructure the flow of your site while you’re at it, but again, this is something that needs to be carefully thought out and structured. On the design side of things, oft-times, a design change can seem as simple as moving a certain set of information to another location on the page. From the development side of things, this can mean a couple days worth of work to move it and ensure functionality moves smoothly from one template to another. From there, it’s even further work to ensure that styling is applied properly that will keep that information living comfortably in its new space. All that being said, there’s a couple things you can focus on to allow you to move forward with a temporary skin for every occasion you can think of while keeping a smooth process and stability in mind.
In all honesty, this should be ever present through any design process for the web. While the designers are the true master craftsmen with relation to the UX and maintaining brand standards, the front-end developers will be the ones to implement it in the end. With that in mind, as the design for the holiday theme progresses, it’s important to touch base regularly. Ensure that the design changes are going to make sense from a development perspective and keep the functionality realistic so that no one winds up needing a toupee as a holiday gift.
Designers, by nature, want to make works of art. It’s not a bad thing. The bad thing is that not all works of art will translate well to websites, especially when they’re responsive. You also might like your designer a great deal and not want to offend them or let them down by saying “This isn’t going to work.” It’s especially important to be as honest as possible as the process goes on. By openly communicating about where you see problems or when you disagree with the direction something is going, you can help to avoid major blockages down the road, saving your team time and sanity.
It’s all well and good to claim that you can do anything. I’ve been known to say it myself from time to time (but it’s true, I totally can. My mom said so.). Just like being honest with your designers, it’s especially important to be realistic. If you’re unsure of anything, don’t hesitate to ask about it for clarification, and most importantly, as soon as you can, make it known that you don’t think something is possible in the timeframe or the scope. Know your limits and make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s fine to shoot for the stars, but, realistically, it’s not always possible to get there in some situations.
You can’t say ‘no’ to everything. You just can’t. There’s going to be compromise on both sides of the equation here and you’re not going to be the one getting your way each and every time. Instead of saying ‘no’, do what you can to learn why a particular direction has been chosen and use your skills to counter with an alternative route that’s going to achieve the same or similar results. This is what I call the ‘Yahbut’ approach. As in, “Yes, but keeping these things in mind, I’d like to see if we can’t achieve it this other way. What do you think?” You never, ever want to be working against each other. You’re on the same team and working toward the same goals, so act like it.
Avoid the Stress of Holiday Prep
All of this seems like common sense, no? And applicable to pretty much everything in life? I know. That’s because it is, and the only reason I’m specifically writing about these things with relation to holiday prep is that it can be a HUGELY stressful ordeal from all angles. By preparing in advance, you have the time to take all these steps and avoid a lot of fights, both with the project and with your designers. And if all that fails? There’s always time for a holiday beer to smooth things over amongst friends and colleagues.
What are your holiday plans? As a business, how do you prepare for them? Let me know so I can work it into my own plans and we can have a very happy non-denominational holiday event.