Nothing about us without us: Engaging stakeholders on


The key to delivering an impactful new website is listening.

There is a popular slogan right now, “nothing about us without us,” that asserts that no policy or product should be decided on without representation from the end user group(s). No truer words were spoken. 

A serious risk of not listening to your users’ needs is building the wrong thing. This results in poor adoption, lack of support from the community, and inadequate content maintenance, and worse – the dreaded backlash of bad PR. 

The needs of the City of Raleigh’s constituents and city staffers are far-reaching, as expansive and diverse as their audience set. Aten and the City of Raleigh team planned and engaged stakeholders throughout the course of the year-long website project to first listen, then validate decisions and ultimately design and develop what users need and want. Feedback before launch was promising. The listening has continued post-launch and is positive as well. The efforts to engage various user groups has paid off!

Together we established audience groups and priorities, and then proceeded with an exhaustive effort to engage front-end users and back-end content editors. We:

  • Facilitated surveys to gain an understanding of aspirations and concerns
  • Hosted focus groups to listen to build empathy for the different users
  • Organized card sorting activities to inform information architecture
  • Held a staff-wide town hall to gain alignment on the road forward
  • Conducted collaborative, strategy-driven workshops to generate ideas and build a shared vocabulary for design 
  • Road-showed the new site to citizens, business leaders, city council and the mayor as a preview before the official launch
  • Provided documentation and training to content editors and city staffers ensuring they can provide consistent and accurate content moving forward

This session will discuss how we:

  • Established and prioritized audience groups
  • Developed a project roadmap with isolated milestones to engage stakeholders 
  • Chose the methods to engage stakeholders 
  • Synthesized stakeholder feedback to create an elegant and joyful experience
  • Prioritized the feedback prior to launch

Your teams will walk away with an understanding of why it’s critical to make decisions informed by user needs and ensure your users are heard. We will provide tips on Strategic listening exercises you can use in your next project. 

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Design, UX, and Accessibility