It’s interesting to look on how professional web designers and developers have worked on the web in the past, and the way they work now; as I did in my presentation at the Edge of the Web conference in Perth.
On the web we have moved from a very inflexible approach, that was seemingly dictated by the old school ways of the information industry at the time to the flexible business and customer focus of an agile rapid development methodology.
In the early days on the web industry, around 1995 to 1998 we used to build web sites in a very similar way to which we produced print brochures. You may have run into this drill before. You collect the specification from the client, design some mockups, get a signoff on them, collect the content and build a final web site.
Now as you can see this method of working does have a number of issues. It doesn’t allow for any research of what would work for the people that are going to be using the site. Also it doesn’t have any real testing of the final product till after it has been completed. This type of thinking works well in the print world, but not in one in which the product is highly interactive with the competition just a click away. Often mistakes in this type of scenario took till the next redesign to fix.
May people realised this wasn’t the best way to work. So allowances were made to allow constant reviews with the client as the project commenced. This allowed for any problems to be picked up at an early stage. Which makes sense as it saves everyone money.
However this still wasn’t completely prefect as the design and the interactive elements of a web site tended to get locked down at an early point in the process. This didn’t allowing for any future refinement of the design as required. This is especially true if a design issue was detected in the developmental section of the build process.
Also this methodology still doesn’t take into account gathering any information from customers. There is no time allocated to see if the web site that is being built can achieve its relevant goals via the testing with some customers.
Flexible Rapid Development
With the need to build everything faster and faster, we in the web world have adapted to that change as well with the use of design and development methodologies.
These methodologies can allow a small team to gather the information they require and reference back to the client and their customers on a constant basis as they build the website to ensure that they’re 100% on track at all times.
This way almost all problems are either solved in the research and preliminary design section or immediately after they are detected during the rapid development process.
This means that the final website is going to provide more functionality that is going to be useful to the customer as well as a website that is easier to use and in line this the business goals. Simply put this ends up with a greater return on investment.
Question really is which way do you have your web sites produced?