They say every plan starts with a vision. Sure, there’s a list of things to check off but does it feel like your mind goes blank when you wonder what to do next once you identify your vision?
If it is that easy to check things off the list, then why do so many people have trouble achieving their vision?
It’s not that some of those who failed to achieve their vision did anything wrong. They did all the right stuff. It’s just that they were missing something.
Finding the missing element.
It took some figuring out what was missing for me after I created a vision statement for this website. I went through the usual steps filling out the rest of the plan but nothing happened.
It’s like the day you get your driver’s license. You studied the materials, praticed driving with an instructor, passed the test, and got your license. Now what?
During that first hour after getting their license, some people drive home. Others go for a drive somewhere. It might be a major milestone on that day but life goes on and that milestone becomes a faint echo of success.
A vision statement that kinda passed the test.
Every website needs a vision statement to start with.
After working on my first draft, my peers provided amazing feedback. With this feedback, I revised my vision a second time and asked for more feedback from the same peers including a good friend and mentor who is a global inclusion strategist, Debra Ruh.
This fantastic lady shared her point of view (POV) and allowed me to see where she was coming from. Her POV brought questions that encouraged me to define it some more with the intent of making me think for myself.
I knew my vision passed the test because of the feedback I was getting. What I noticed was that each time I looked at it from their POV, it felt like I ran into a wall. Each time I ran into a wall, I felt stuck.
It was a well-respected thinker who got the ball rolling again for me.
Open conversations generate loyalty, sales and most of all, learning… for both sides. – Seth Godin
Learning about the Missing Element.
That was the key word that got the ball rolling again. Remember the example of getting a driver’s license? A major milestone one day, a faint echo the next. In a way, it’s because the driver ends up learning something new.
A new route to school, how to manage time with traffic, how to create a soundtrack to make driving more enjoyable, et cetera.
Learning is one of my core values for this website. What I realized was two things:
- Leaving my vision open to feedback created conversations.
- Closing my vision to feedback created a wall.
That’s when I knew I had to take a step or two back and let the vision simmer. In the end, I realized it was okay to keep going with a simple, open-ended vision statement.
Show accessible solutions to be more inclusive.
By leaving this open, I am able to invite comments and questions. This form of feedback helps discover how my readers engages with me. In a way, my vision statement kinda passed the test.
Okay, I Passed the Test. Now what?
Even though with a vision that kinda passed the test, and a plan, I knew I had to keep going. For example, show accessible solutions to be a more inclusive:
- (fill in the blank)?
At first, it felt a little bit awkward to leave this open. Doing so felt like I was not completing my task but that’s okay. The hardest thing for anyone to do is think.
Sometimes, thinking takes time.
(Did I just bust a rhyme?)
Put the vision into gear.
Oddly enough, it was a moment when I got into my car with the key in my hand when I asked myself, “Now what?”. We all know a car will not start until we put the key in the ignintion and start it up.
After the car starts up, it just sits there idling.
The next step is to put the car into gear in order to get the car moving. Anyone who is in the business of making a penny or two will agree that you need a product or a service. That’s the thought process that allowed me to go from passing the vision test into “gear” mode.
What is the product?
That is the question to which the answer still eludes me.
One problem that I see a lot of bloggers falling into the trap of doing is simply writing what everyone else is writing about on their blog – and doing it in the same way everyone else is. – Darren Rowse
My vision statement does provide me with a clue, show accessible solutions.
A common problem found on every website is the lack of accessible content. That led me to the question, what is content made up of? Among other things, the most common mediums are:
Text is not the greatest use of the word to describe the writing medium. There’s articles, blog posts, email newsletters, podcast transcripts, video captioning, et cetera. If it’s written, no matter what the format it is presented in, it’s still text.
Identify the Problems and the Solutions
While reading, I came across a good explanation of how ProdPad uses a litmus test for a good product roadmap everyone understands. It must hit the three following points:
That’s when I realized it all starts with this website.
An accessible website is a website that is accessible to everyone regardless of their human condition. This begs the question as to how one can begin to figure out the problems with their own website.
Identifying the Missing Element
It was during a Twitter chat conversation I realized how a roadmap provided a solution.
For the sake of keeping things simple, here is a transcript of the thread which began with an answer that resulted in a conversation during #AXSChat. The answer came from Emily, the Front End Developer for Buffer.
Emily: At Buffer, we’ve been documenting our process towards becoming more accessible & have made a public Accessibility Roadmap.
Mark: That’s awesome, do you have a link to this?
Emily: @cldbrand yes! It’s right here. Link to Buffer’s roadmap on Trello
Mark: Excellent thanks. I pocketed it for later. I’m new to Trello so not quite sure how to follow boards yet.
CL Design: I wonder if anyone at buffer has experienced their site with a screen reader. I could create a video of that experience…
Emily: Oooh that would be so neat! I’m using Buffer with VoiceOver frequently but haven’t gotten to try out JAWS yet!
CL Design: That’s what I would use as well. A video would enable other people to experience what a screen reader is like using Buffer.
Mark: Do let us know when your video is up (with quality captioning) so I can learn as well as share it with others.
The greatest thing about accessibility is that it takes a community to learn. It might take time. By collaborating on such projects, we all learn together.
In this particular conversation with Amy, we see how the community is working together, both businesses and users, to continue developing the product into a more accessible product that benefits everyone.
Such an example is exactly what I mean by showing accessible solutions.
As it turned out, the missing element for me was a roadmap. For the purpose of putting my vision statement into “gear”, text will provide a starting point for the roadmap.
Start A Roadmap
Amazingly enough, while doing my research on how to put my vision statement into gear, I could not find a single search result that defined what a roadmap was.
What is a roadmap?
There are road maps which is two words we use to identify the map we all use while traveling to navigate from point A to point B. However, when it came to finding a definition for a roadmap, two words combined together to form one word, it was a little more difficult.
It appears that the one-word roadmap has become an adjective.
For example, there are product roadmaps, project roadmaps, and technology roadmaps.
Despite a lack of a clear definition for the one-word roadmap, all these terms do share a common generalization based on the two words, road map.
The one-word roadmap consists of:
- A visual overview.
- A sense of direction from start to finish.
While visual often refers to something we can see with our eyes, for the purpose of this post, I will use visual as something we can see inside our mind. In other words, if you’re reading this post in the dark, you’ll be able to see the roadmap in your mind.
Using Trello to Define the Roadmap
When Trello appeared onto the scene, I didn’t get it.
Sure, I created an account in 2015. I started playing around but I didn’t get it. The hype surrounding Trello did not help my ability to understand how Trello can be a solution to problems.
It was not until two years later when I visited Buffer’s accessibility roadmap works, along with ProdPad explanation, Trello began to make sense.
Buffer’s accessibility roadmap begins with lists organized from left to right.
- Issues reported by users.
- Issues found internally.
- Open Questions / User Research Needed.
- Outreach / Knowledge Sharing Ideas.
Basically, Buffer starts with the users who have reported accessibility issues. In addition to their users, they also share accessibility issues their own developers discovered. These are the problems Buffer is trying to solve.
Whenever they resolve an issue, they move it to the Done board so everyone is aware of what’s done.
In addition, Buffer also extends their desire to be accessible with feedback from users and a request for more informaiton.
Copy the roadmap and adjust your route.
Once I was able to see how to use Trello as a roadmap, I created a private board on Trello to figure out my own road map. Now that I have a defined but open vision along with a few core values established, I can start putting the gears into motion.
It’s a simple matter of figuring out the roadmap, how to set it up, go from point A to point B.
Interestingly enough, it’s a guest post on Trello by another Buffer team that helped me get things moving. I first met Kevan Lee through a Twitter chat hosted by Buffer, #bufferchat, where he shared an article that helped me define an idea.
This time, he shared how he uses Trello to create a blogging roadmap.
Pull the Apps Together
Kevan’s guest post provided details about how to use Trello along with several terrific time management tips for tackling side projects. This allowed me to identify projects that would allow me to work more efficiently.
At the moment, I have identified four areas of focus where I can achieve my goals to show accessible solutions to be more inclusive.
- Blog – Creating content.
- Email List – Creating letters to my inclusive tribe.
- Image Description Project – Creating image descriptions.
- Site Development – Creating an accessible Genesis Framework theme.
Each of these projects do overlap each other but are distinctively separate from each other. As a result, I created a board for each area of focus.
A fantastic automation tip for email lists.
One fantastic tip from Kevan was how to use the automation tool, IFTTT (If this, then that), to connect my favorite “save for later” app, Pocket, with Trello to add specific posts of interest to a Trello board.
I tried it out and sure enough, it works as advertised. I do have to admit now that I see how it works, I have to do some more thinking about how to work on my emails for my subscribers.
The bottom line is that by having a roadmap, you are able to go from your starting point (your vision) to your finishing point (your readers). It does take some thinking because you need to make stops along the way.
For example, maybe you need to gas up your car, maybe you need to pick up someone for the ride, or maybe you need a ride sharing service (social shares).
Regardless of what you need to do along the way, by knowing and sharing with your readers where the starting and finishing point is, you have a route to follow. You don’t want them to just watch you go by. You want them to join you.
It might be a straight line or not. You will have to do some thinking first. Maybe you will need to do some research or discuss with your peers. Either way, you now can visualize how you will get to the end.
Do you have a roadmap for your vision? How do you develop it? Share your experience in the comments and tell us all about it.