How L.A. Tourism Meets Customers in Real Time

Learn how L.A. Tourism adopted a WebOps framework to pivot immediately during the pandemic, shifting from attracting outside tourists to local patrons with a new web campaign, in the following post. 

Image by Sterling Davis via Unsplash

We all know the stress of a deadline associated with launching a new website. But how about launching a new web campaign, in the middle of a pandemic, in less than a week? Not exactly the easiest thing to deliver on, considering the time constraints!

This sort of flexibility requires a new approach to the entire philosophy of web development.

In a recent webinar, Bao Truong, Ph.D., Director of Engineering at L.A. Tourism and Sarah Fruy, Director of WebOps Partner Marketing here at Pantheon, discuss WebOps strategies to improve productivity. Truong explains how L.A. Tourism used WebOps principles to meet the impossibly short turnaround mentioned above.

Find some highlights from this engaging discussion in the following post.

Steps to Success: Adopting a WebOps framework

First, we’d like to start out by giving a quick primer on WebOps, or what’s referred to as website operations. WebOps is a collaborative, iterative set of practices built on cross-functional teams that enables them to drive results with their website. 

Determining your site’s most important main function or its “north star,” aligns priorities and sets your teams up to take advantage of the WebOps framework. The WebOps framework consists of three main building blocks, as seen below. For the focus of this blog post, we'll focus on unlocking the second one from your team, productivity, to really drive the third piece of this framework — impact with your website. 

1. Credibility: Deliver consistent, functional user experiences — all without unexpected downtime turning away site visitors. 

2. Productivity: Streamline internal processes to allow for agile changes, quicker deployment, and ongoing iterative improvements.

3. Impact: Create relevant and engaging content that gets your message across and leads to higher conversion rates that drive bottom line results.

Removing Roadblocks to Productivity

When timelines are tight and there’s a lot to do, how do you make sure that your web team is as productive as possible? Optimizing tools, freeing up resources, and removing or revamping processes allows your team to work efficiently and productively. Here are three of the major roadblocks to productivity and how to get around them:

1. Sluggish Martech

Martech is essential but using the wrong tools or duplicating efforts can really slow down your site. A faster site leads to a better user experience and increased conversion rates.

Solution: Consolidate your resources and remove redundant processes. Prioritize how you load scripts and optimize for speed. Review and quantify the performance impact of new technology solutions before implementing them.

2. Outdated Processes and Workflows

It’s tempting to fall into the trap of keeping processes the way they are simply because they have always been that way. However, even tried-and-true practices can become unproductive. Continually updating processes and workflows frees up bandwidth for your team to focus on meaningful tasks and allows them to be more proactive. 

Solution: Identify redundant tasks and automate where possible. Train your teams on agile methodologies and encourage collaboration. Rid your teams of unproductive behaviors that steer away from site goals.

3. Competing Priorities

Your employees get pulled in many different directions and if your teams aren’t working towards the same goal, they can be the source of serious bottleneck. Getting the teams aligned on priorities is key to productive work output and happier employees.

Solution: Keep the north star metric in sight and align teams based on resources and complexity of tasks. Allow teams to refuse work requests that don’t align with the north star. Train teams on martech tools, timelines, and expectations and work with a project manager as needed.

L.A. Tourism's Challenge:

Shift Focus From Tourism to Local Patrons

L.A. Tourism is a private, 501(c)(6) nonprofit that promotes Los Angeles, California (L.A.) for leisure travel and conventions. Tourism is a vital driver for the local economy. One of L.A. Tourism’s most successful campaigns is dineL.A. which promotes the town’s dynamic food scene. dineL.A. hosts a biennial event, Restaurant Week, that is internationally recognized for its fantastic cuisine. 

When Covid hit, L.A. Tourism had to pivot immediately in response to dining restrictions. They shifted focus from outside tourism to local patrons by revamping the site as dineL.A. To Go.

 L.A. Tourism was experiencing the upheaval of Covid and significant reductions in development resources, but they needed to deploy the new dineL.A. To Go landing page immediately. Here’s how they managed to launch the new landing page — all in less than a week.

Component-based Approach to Design and Deployment

A component-based approach reduces the time and risk involved in design and deployment. You don’t have to overhaul your site every time you want to make a major change. L.A. Tourism reused and recycled content, considered the future impact of the changes they were making, took advantage of existing time-saving tools, and partnered with Pantheon to reach their goals.

  • Reuse: L.A. Tourism reused as many components from the old page as they could, in order to save time and resources. 

  • Make Time to Save Time: L.A. Tourism carefully evaluated what was working, what needed to change, and which processes could be removed or automated. Investing that time in the beginning enabled them to work faster for an overall gain. 

  • Leverage Tools: L.A. Tourism took advantage of Paragraphs and Pattern Lab tools to create modular content that could be tested and deployed independently. Custom checkbox fields were instrumental in this process.

  • Don’t Try to Do it All: L.A. Tourism’s partnership with Pantheon provided guidance, tools, and security that allowed them to concentrate on messaging and content.

Silent, Seamless Deployment

dineL.A. To Go was deployed silently and seamlessly by using custom checkbox fields. The checkbox fields toggle between internal and public visibility to facilitate testing and QA. Using checkboxes, the landing page becomes a live mockup and components can be deployed individually without pushing code. This not only avoids potential bugs and errors; it takes the developer out of the deployment process and greatly reduces bottlenecks along the way.

Optimized Developer Resources For Success

 “Because dev resources were freed up during the campaign, we were able to respond to user feedback and deploy changes right away, instead of waiting until the next campaign.”

- Bao Truong, Director of Engineering at L.A. Tourism

Removing the developer from deployment is key because it allows them to concentrate on other tasks, such as analytics and user experience. Bao explains, “… because dev resources were freed up during the campaign, we were able to respond to user feedback and deploy changes right away, instead of waiting until the next campaign.”

Not only did changes based on feedback make the site better, but ongoing feedback became increasingly positive as users saw their changes implemented. The L.A. Tourism team is able to incorporate feedback and reviews from existing campaigns into future campaigns, rather than constantly playing catch up.

Rapid Launch Helped Struggling Businesses 

The rapid launch of dineL.A. To Go helped struggling local businesses and the economy of Los Angeles when they needed it most. Modular building and deployment of the program enabled better use of developer resources. Because developers were able to respond to feedback, the overall user experience was improved. Increased productivity enables teams to make iterative changes and concentrate on the most meaningful tasks.  

Watch the complete webinar for more tips and tricks on how to improve your team’s productivity and react quickly to unexpected changes as they happen, in real time.

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Topics Development, Testing & Optimization