WebStock 2016 Brings Chesapeake Bay Program Partners into the Creative ProcessCatherine Krikstan ·
This month, the Chesapeake Bay Program Creative Team hosted a one-day symposium on all things web for an audience of friends and colleagues. Known as WebStock, the annual event was revitalized last spring as a way for the Creative Team to introduce others to the work they do and the methods they use to do it. Indeed, participants gained an understanding of how the Creative Team can help them and how they can use the team’s own tools and processes to improve their work.
More than 20 participants met at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to learn about the Creative Team’s process for building a web product: defining our business case; getting to know our audience; choosing the right content for this audience; designing a web product; and testing the design and functionality of this product. In between short presentations that described how to do this work, participants went to work creating products of their own. Some built a website to engage Baltimore residents in underwater grass restoration; others built a website to involve local government representatives in oyster reef restoration; and others built a website to help fishermen understand the importance of forage species to the Chesapeake Bay.
As we closed the event by sharing what we learned, two themes rose to the top: the amount of thought that goes into creating great work and the importance of working with a cross-functional team. Participants worked in small groups outside of the silos of their standard office life. While exercises were designed to encourage the expression of divergent thought, groups moved toward a consensus on the look, feel and functionality of their products and converged on solutions that benefited from and worked for all of those involved.
Of course, no product is ever perfect: as advocates for testing early and often, the Creative Team is always wondering what we have done well and what we could do better at the next opportunity. We know clear lessons, hands-on activities and homemade cookies and cupcakes are huge hits. We will see where our research takes us as we build next year’s WebStock.