Different Views of the Same Mountain: Creating a Shared Approach to Website Projects

Creating a Shared Approach to Website Projects

As we kick off our 14th year in business at Bear Group, I am grateful for our team of web developers and technical project managers, their craftsmanship, and commitment (both to clients and also their craft).

An interesting and somewhat challenging part of the creative process (and yes, web development is a creative process with a functional purpose) is coming to a shared understanding about the aspirations and future vision for a website with a client.

We start by asking questions about the website today: how customers are using it, what frustrations the team might be currently experiencing, how it will represent your brand, and what it might be lacking in features or functionality. We ask about future aspirations for the website to help recommend solutions that will help a business run smoothly and grow strategically.

Ultimately we want to be on the same page and start every project with this intention of 100% alignment. 
No matter how aligned we feel, we are coming at the website from different viewpoints, and that makes communicating throughout the process that much more important. 

How a client might view their website

a mountain with snow on top, a lake below and trees surrounding

This is Mt. Baker, a beautiful mountain that is part of the Cascade Mountain Range just a few hours north of our home base in Seattle. 

If you imagine the mountain to be a website, clients see the mountain along with the larger ecosystem of things in their perspective: the water, sailboats, forests, and animals. There are many moving pieces within this ecosystem and they need a mountain (errr, website) that looks and works great while also connecting the other pieces.

A developer’s view of the website

closeup of a snow-covered mountain showing trees, rocks and cliffs

This is Mt. Baker up close from a recent ski trip. Our development team's view is from the mountain. We see all the elements up close—the rocks, trees, glaciers, water, effects of wind and time. We use all the elements of web technology that make up a site. Our understanding is the system as a composite of its technical parts— from Javascript libraries, HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, and full stack of technology that brings a site together. 

We make mountains that will stand the test of time thanks to our deep understanding of all the elements up close and underneath the surface. Our clients are able to depend on the mountain, use it, and grow with it without having to know every single element that goes into it.

At Bear Group, it is our job to make sure the mountain looks good from a distance as well as up close. It needs to be a well-built collection for ALL of the pieces within the larger ecosystem. 

Our shared view of the website

view from a mountain top looking out to the distance

Launching a new website is kind of like standing on top of the mountain with the client and looking off into the distance. Together we both can see the short range view, we can see the valleys, and hopefully we both can see the potential—the 100-mile view on a bluebird day.

This inherent difference in perspective has been an interesting challenge to the work we do. We approach this with clear communication and a roadmap at the start of projects that helps us identify what each client needs their website to do for them and how we can help get them there.

We don't expect clients to become mountain makers, though we love sharing knowledge and work hard to demystify the web development process along the way.

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