Paul Boag

About Paul Boag

The Guardian’s agile processes showcase digital best practice

Digital has changed our world. The web has transformed the way we gather information, make purchases and carry out daily tasks.

Social media is altering the way we interact with friends and even the nature of society as a whole. And mobile has nurtured the 24/7, always on culture.

Organisations are scrambling to adapt to this new reality. Some businesses have been too slow and digital has forced them to close their doors. HMV, Tower records, Kodak and Blockbusters are all high-profile victims of the digital revolution.

But some organisations are making the transition, even in sectors harmed by the arrival of digital. One such organisation is the Guardian newspaper.

Why change management must change in the digital economy

Most companies can no longer manage the constant change coming at them. You have the skills to help, but are you willing to step up?

It has been said so much that it has become a cliche, ‘we live in a world of constant and rapid change’.

This is not something new. We have been bombarded with rapid innovation and change since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

In fact, companies are so aware of the changes in the world around us that they have change management processes for dealing with them.

Why effective user centric design always leads to business transformation

Many companies pay lip service to user centric design, but the harsh truth is that without business transformation, most will fail to satisfy their users.

The web has made life hard for a lot of businesses. There was a time (before the web) when consumers had limited options. If a company gave their customers poor service it was hard to find an alternative.

Even bad mouthing the company to friends and colleagues only had a limited impact.

Stop focusing on edge cases

If you have a reasonably big website there could be literally hundreds of tasks a user might be trying to complete. In such scenarios it is unwise to try and accommodate them all.

Microsoft had a problem. To be more specific the support team for Microsoft Office had a problem. The team had built one of the most comprehensive Knowledge Bases available online, answering every possible question you might ever have with a Microsoft Office product, and consistently received low scores in customer satisfaction.

This just didn’t make sense. The team had been thorough. You couldn’t think of a question about Microsoft Office that the Knowledge Base didn’t answer. Why then did people rate them so low?

10 characteristics of a digitally friendly company

Why is it that some companies embrace and succeed in digital, while others fail?

I am becoming convinced that the failure of a digital strategy often has little to do with the competence of their web team. It is more to do with the culture of the organisation itself.

You can have the best web team in the world who produce the best websites and apps, but if the organisation behind them is not digitally friendly then the results will be disappointing.

So what makes one company digitally friendly and another not? Below I outline my top ten reasons, but I would be keen to hear yours in the comments too.

The tale of two clients

Probably the most important factor in the success of your website is the digital lead.

If that is you, are you really leading the digital strategy or are you taking a passive role?

Why empathy is a crucial skill for web designers

The ability to empathise is recognised as a crucial soft skill that web designers, writers and managers require. However, empathy needs more than an intellectual understanding.

If you spend anytime at all reading the plethora of articles on designing or running websites, it won’t take you long to encounter the word empathy.

The user centric movement obsesses (rightfully so) about understanding users. We create personas, customer journeys and empathy maps. We run focus groups, user test sessions and emotional response tests.

And yet with all of our techniques and tools, I am not convinced we really ever actually empathise.

The benefits and challenges of remote teams

Remote working is becoming an industry standard, especially among digital workers. However, many organisations are afraid of this departure from traditional working practices and are unsure how to manage it effectively.

Not too long ago Marissa Mayer CEO and President of Yahoo! surprised the digital community by ending Yahoo’s long running policy of remote working. 

This caused much controversy as remote working has become standard practice among many digital workers.