Debunking the myths of digital teams


Say you work in a digital team, and the chances are that people will make a few quick assumptions about what that means. I’ve decided to look at some of these myths, and challenge the perceptions people have about us.

1. We’re good with computers

If only this was true. It used to be the case that not many people really understood what digital teams did – something ‘web-related’ would have been the answer. Hopefully those days are long gone, as the reliance on digital teams to transform businesses and grow online capability becomes the norm. Yes we work closely with IS teams, and we do have to have a certain level of technical understanding. But no, I’m sorry to disappoint you, I can’t fix your computer.

2. We’ve all got beards

Well speaking from a personal viewpoint, we’re not based in Hoxton or Brighton, so this rule only applies to around 5% of our team…. if that. In fact, these days the diversity in digital teams is something to be proud of – ours is about 40% female, with the balance ever-increasing. And far from all being nerds, geeks and hipsters, we’re just a bunch of people from different backgrounds, using our collective experience to make great web journeys.

3. We’re paper-free

I chuckle as I write this surrounded by scraps of paper and task cards. We do a lot of sketching, mapping, scribbling, and sticking post-its and cards onto walls.

Our office can look scruffy, and our walls like a detective’s war room. But it’s a hive of productivity, and an effective way to work. All of our tasks are mapped out on our agile walls, which allows us to have something physical to move from ‘in progress’ to ‘done’ each day. And I would encourage any team to adopt an agile scrum process. Not only does it make you work at pace, but it’s a great way to make everyone accountable for their actions. And don’t worry, at the end of the delivery work, we do recycle.

4. We take ages to deliver

This is a misconception, partly because a lot of our development work is behind the scenes. A web page may just look like some words and pictures, but there are so many hidden elements.

Think about the structure, styling, and functionality. To the uninitiated it can be puzzling as to why things take so long. But think about how much longer it takes to prepare a wall for painting than actually painting it. At any given times our agile scrum teams are working on many ‘walls’ so you can start to appreciate the effort that goes into making sure each web journey we develop is the best it can be.

We actually work at a very fast pace, delivering work over two week sprints. Some of our projects are short and tactical, others will be long strategic monsters, so we really do have to be demons at multi-tasking, and ensuring each sprint delivers the required output.

5. We don’t ‘get’ offline customer journeys

Again, incorrect. In fact, many of our team have come from backgrounds that rely on understanding how important it is to be ‘omnichannel.’ From a brand point of view channel consistency is crucial, but from a customer point of view, the experience they have with our brand when they move from online to offline (and vice versa) is also of paramount importance.

We work closely with teams from call centres, PR, marketing, and customer relationship marketing, so that we understand the role our web journeys play in the customer lifecycle. And often we can learn from each other too.

6. We’re obsessed with testing

Ok, this one’s a little bit true. But in digital we have the luxury of being able to get things live quicker than some other routes, and see what works and what doesn’t. That said we’ll only test when there’s a real need to test.

Through multi-variant testing and A/B testing we can look at which version of a page (or part of a page) gets the best response then go with the winner.

For creating new journeys we can user-test, iterate, and re-test, to ensure that we’re always confident the work we put live is based on evidence and real user needs.