The product approach to building a website

Melissa Archuleta-Okada

Make a great product

Alan Alda is an actor and writer with a lifelong interest in science. Alda’s interest in building a platform to promote and communicate science stemmed from the idea that scientists and researchers have wonderful stories to tell, but sometimes need help telling them.

The product we built is a learning center and online hub for scientists, medical professionals, students, and the public to explore, learn, and practice effective communication about science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine.

The product approach

The Alda Kavli Learning Center’s mission is to become the leading online resource for information and training in science and health communication. To build The Alda-Kavli Learning Center we used a product approach, encouraging everyone with a stake in the website to look beyond short-term investment behaviors and recognize the platform as a continuing resource that must remain effective, secure, and up to date.

Keep your product great

The learning center has a clear, strategic purpose. It’s also one element in a constellation of properties that will advance the organization’s objectives. Developing this website through an iterative process reinforces the full promise of the site and helps boost the organization’s mission. Future aspirations to add additional features and further enhance the user experience haven’t got in the way of launching the first iteration of the website. Valuable insights of user needs and behaviors along with gauging the site’s efficiency are often discovered in the first generation of a product and can inform details of the next generation.

What we learned

Successful products are dynamic, meeting the goals of the owner and the goals of the user throughout their life-cycle. With a product approach, we can look at primary, secondary and tertiary goals and prioritize them to best fit user needs progressively. Giving precedence to maintenance in all areas ensures the site will adapt to meet new needs. Efficiently tackling issues as they arise aids in lengthening the website’s shelf life. Seeing your website as a product that will evolve and acknowledging your users and their needs will change, can alter the way you invest in your digital tools. Instead of thinking of them as costly investments that will depreciate after launch, start to envision them as products that can scale over time.

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About the Author

Melissa is a Native Coloradan but spent several years in various parts of the country including New York, Chicago and Sacramento before heading back to Denver. She is a Digital Marketing and Communications Strategist and has worked with some of the top non-profit organizations in the U.S. including Planned Parenthood, The California Endowment and Obama for America. She has given digital...

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