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Lessons Learned, Part Two: Workflow Timing

Update: As of November 2020, the website is live! Please visit

Post Date: February 10, 2020

This blog continues the lessons learned series, adapted from the Interim Grant Report to IMLS, and focuses on the timing of our workflow. 

Timing is everything 

We’ve found that remaining flexible to meet the needs of the website’s audiences has been the best way to judge when an action should happen. Of course, this also has to be balanced with the schedule of other projects going on at IMH. 

Change in Plans

The original timeline for the project has been adjusted for a few reasons. A multi-faceted planning phase needed to be unpacked somewhat, in order to make sure we put energy where it is needed most, when it is needed most. We haven’t added more time to the work plan, we’ve just distributed it differently than expected when the original proposal was written.Original timeline - planningOriginal timeline - implementation

The Chronicle’s original timeline as proposed in 2018.

Moving Parts

Digitization agreements with other institutions will be more appropriate after we have all our procedures in place and the website is ready for more content to be added. This was one of the main pieces of the timeline that we shifted to a later phase.

Likewise, working with Teacher Representatives will be more useful in the next few months. We realized we would need the site to be functional and populated with information in order for teachers to create modules based on the content. An assumption that teachers would rather work in the summer was proved false when we posed that question to a focus group. Therefore, our work with teachers is coinciding with the spring 2020 semester, which is also when the website should be ready.

Change in Vocabulary

We changed web developers early on as well. (Read more about Message Agency, our developer, on this blog.) Instead of creating a Product Definition Document as proposed in the grant application, we worked with Message Agency to build something similar, Project Requirements and User Stories. These documents use the logic models and personas report created by Kate Haley Goldman. (Read about the focus groups with target audiences on this blog.) In turn, Message Agency drafted the information architecture of the website, which became the foundation for building wireframes.

Chronicle home page wireframe

The Chronicle homepage as a wirefame.

Complex Workflow

Content preparation really couldn’t begin until the website’s wireframes were built. This framework illustrates the locations for each piece of information and how they connect to each other. 

We organized and re-organized existing content, discovered gaps, identified the quantity of materials, and tried to retrace steps to recover missing pieces. We were stalled in actually formatting the pieces until we could have access to the back-end of the development website. There have been many times that we have questioned whether we would be duplicating efforts to use various project management and workflow organizing tools. 

As we now conduct our last round of testing with website users, we have a much more realistic sense of what needs to be done, and in what order. Just like timing is everything, there’s no substitute for real-world experience.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Institute of Museum and Library Services