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Adam Turner

The qualities digital rockstars show during a crisis

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One of the best things about running the Sitemorse platform is the opportunity to work with the various digital rockstars across our clients. We work with some excellent teams and individual managers who continue to deliver leading websites and other digital channels.

Last year we took a look at eight key characteristics of digital rockstars covering elements such as being results-focused, empathising with customers and taking a long-term view. Since the coronavirus crisis struck, the world has suddenly become far more reliant on digital channels, not only to keep everybody informed in a rapidly evolving situation but also to drive communication, transactions and operations.

This means the crisis has put a whole lot more pressure on digital communication functions. Some teams have not only had to adapt themselves to new ways of working – usually with most of them working from home – but also creating new content and channels, all of which are more in the spotlight. Organisations need digital rockstars more than ever.

We thought it would be interesting to revisit the characteristics of digital rockstars that we established last year to see if they were relevant during the current crisis, and if there are any other characteristics that teams need.

  1. They are results-focused 

    Digital rockstars are strongly results-focused, using data and measurement to drive decision-making and also making things happen.

    This has not changed. Teams need to be level-headed in the current crisis, continuing to operate in their normal fashion but also delivering on the changes that are required of them. The impact of the pandemic looks like it will be long lasting so the ability to make things happen in ways that are also sustainable has never been more important.

  2. They take ownership

    Digital rockstars truly own digital channels, invest time and effort, put in the extra mile when needed, and take responsibility for when things go wrong.

    This has not changed. The additional extra time, effort and care that has gone into making extensive changes has meant that many digital rockstars have been putting in the extra hours and effort to focus on delivering. They take true ownership for the channels they manage.

  3. They have standards to adhere to and to set

    Digital rockstars usually have standards in their head that they want a website to meet, or not to fall below covering content quality, compliance, findability and more.

    This quality absolutely still applies during the crisis. With digital channels under more scrutiny than ever and in higher use, standards around good quality content, accessibility and a great user experience are arguably even more important than they have ever been.

  4. They empathise with customers

    Digital rockstars strongly empathise with customers; caring about how users experience their site and ensuring everybody can access the site.

    Perhaps above all, this is the most important trait during this crisis. Customers and site visitors need to be kept informed and updated, they may may be under stressful conditions or may be using digital services even for the first time. This will include many users who have accessibility issues. Having empathy for your customers in order to deliver better usability and accessibility helps to drive the improvements that will make a tangible difference and help people get the information and access the services they need.

  5. They empathise with the content team too

    Digital rockstars also empathise with their wider content team too, not wanting to overwhelm already busy people with tasks that are hard to achieve.

    Empathy for your content team is important too during the crisis. Your colleagues may be working remotely in less-than-ideal working conditions or may be stressed. Not overwhelming them but trying to ensure they still look after their content requires an empathetic mindset.

  6. They are methodical and process-driven

    Successful digital managers are methodical and process-driven, focusing on continual improvement through repeatable processes each week delivered in manageable chunks.

    This characteristic also still applies. Being methodical and process driven, and working in a routine is important, especially if the kids are at home and you are having to work in perhaps a new way. It also helps ensure that site basics are still prioritised when you are also having to work on new parts of your site or urgent content.

  7. They take the long-term view

    Highly effective digital managers take a long-term view of their website, sustaining effort through tenacity and perseverance, and developing more long-term plans.

    Although some of the measures taken have been in response to immediate needs, taking the long-term view is still critical. The impact of the pandemic will be prolonged, not just due to the precautions and compromises we will have to take to stay safe, but also in the economic downturn that is inevitably going to follow. Digital rockstars keep an eye on the future and ensure what they do today helps prepare for tomorrow.

  8. They’re never quite satisfied

    Digital rockstars realise that work on a website is never quite finished; they always can see improvements to be made and make their website better.   

    The pandemic is a fast-moving situation. Government conditions change by the week and organisations are having to respond in different and imaginative ways. Website content but also functionality may need to change to reflect this.  Users also have to be kept informed and themselves are having to adapt. As the situation evolves, high-performing digital teams will be able to see improvements they can make to meet the demands of organisations and meet the needs of users. Never quite being satisfied really can drive better results.

    We also think there are two extra qualities that digital rockstars are demonstrating through this crisis:

  9. Staying level-headed and focused

    It is easy to get diverted in strange and stressful times. We’re finding that our clients are staying level-headed and focused on the core tasks in hand. They are still delivering on the basics and getting things done.

  10. Being a little creative and flexible

    At the same time there is also a need to be flexible and creative, and act quickly in order to drive solutions that are going to be highly effective but also cost effective. The next few months and even couple of years may be challenging and digital rockstars will need to get their thinking caps on.

We need digital rockstars!

During the pandemic we need digital rockstars more than ever. The kind of qualities and characteristics they showed in more regular times are just as relevant for the challenges for the short to mid-term future. Let’s raise a glass (indoors) to the digital rockstars!


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