On May 9th, I had the privilege of speaking at the Jacksonville Online Marketing Meetup, to discuss Agile Marketing and User-Centric Design.

The JOMM is a monthly non-profit meetup for marketing professionals, business owners, and entrepreneurs interested in sharing insights, learning about digital marketing, and connecting with industry peers.

If you were unable to make it, you missed out on some free pizza and beer, but you can find an abbreviated transcript and a PDF of the slides here. Sadly, the GIFs won’t function, and you won’t have a full accounting of the ensuing conversation, but this should be a good enough start to introduce you to User-Centric Design and Agile Marketing, and provide a sketch of the problems they solve and how the processes might be integrated.

If you have any questions about User-Centric Design or Agile Marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out!


Thank you for coming. Today, I’d like to address two conjoined problems in web design – one of goals, and one of process – that tend to complicate or derail website projects. I’d also like to outline two solutions that can be used independently of one another to address these problems, and propose a means of integrating them. This will mostly focus on web design, but these solutions can be applied in several digital contexts. I also hope I’ll demystify a few buzzwords and show you some cheesy cartoons and stock photos, because what marketing presentation would be complete without those?

So, ideally, when a web project begins, we gather requirements from stakeholders, build a timeline, set a budget, conduct a bunch of research and build a strategy, execute the design and development, and we’re done. But, of course, it never happens that way. Worse, there’s no follow up.

The door in this picture is a “Norman Door,” and it’s an example of bad design. Don Norman was a professor at UCSD who wrote the cornerstone work in UCD, called The Psychology of Everyday Things. In it, he describes how to align design with user goals, the elements to consider in UCD, and the principles that should be observed when designing. Here’s another example of what not to do, as well as some tools and some positive outcomes from employing UCD.

On to agile marketing.  As many of you know, Agile project management emerged in the 90s from the software development industry as an alternative to the heavy predictive management methods that were born out of manufacturing and construction.

Applying this to marketing, we’re really focusing on micro-strategies and accountability, with demonstrable, measurable results. Notice the similarities in some of the structure of the Agile workflow with the recommended structure of UCD. Not only does this show real results, but this emphasis tends to reduce cost and enable your team to work faster.

So, it makes sense to combine them. Testing and change are part of both processes. But there are a few challenges. I recommend including a “research sprint” at the beginning of a project to satisfy UCD’s strategic needs. You need to also not lose the forest for the trees, and make sure you’re pursuing a UCD ethos executed in an Agile fashion. And always make sure to reconcile your efforts with the data.

Here’s how I suggest structuring for this, but there are also some values not listed here. Your team should be empowered to make fast, effective decisions. This requires a degree of trust and accountability, a willingness to flag issues as they arise, propose solutions from a wide array of sources, and really embody team ownership over individual or departmental. You can’t say “that’s marketing/design/development’s problem” when you’re structured like this.

You might have some objections on how best to shift to these methodologies in your organization. So here are some tips on how to address them. Also, these methods aren’t appropriate for every project, so here I’ve outlined when they’re appropriate, and when they aren’t.

In both Agile and UCD, you’re really reducing your excuses. Do, or do not. There is no try. Thank you very much.

Ryan Hickey Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey is a rapid-fire, coffee-drinking devotee of hard data. As the Director of Digital Strategy, he guides S4’s strategic approach to both internal and client work with a near-obsessive commitment to critical thinking and substantiation through methodical tracking and analysis. Ryan studied diplomacy at Georgetown and has been known to turn a poisoned pen to album reviews in his spare time.