If you’ve been paying attention to our Twitter feed, you may have noticed we’ve been working with software development specialists Black Cat Solutions of late, and very recently we launched their new responsive website.
Now, just as much as we’ve been guiding them and their marketing strategy, they have also been giving us some useful tips from their experiences. Most notable is the process of Agile Development.
In a nutshell, agile development is a group of methodologies that enables swifter, better software development over traditional development models such as the waterfall process. It is underpinned by the following values:
Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
Responding to Change over Following a Plan
For us, we find these values are what also underpin great web design and development.
1. Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
In the modern world of digital marketing, things are constantly evolving. As such, processes and tools are always being outdated sooner than they can be written up.
Rather than limiting yourself to things that have been tried, tested and done to death, encouraging individuals and interactions between both client, agency and web developer leads to more creativity, thinking outside of the box and innovation.
Think back to Responsive Web Design, introduced by Ethan Marcotte. By ditching the processes and tools, and thinking ahead to the future of mobile-led interaction and browsing, responsive web design was born to fit the needs of the future generation.
Do not stifle creativity. You limit the possibilities of true innovation and might as well employ robots if you do.
2. Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
Often, software developers in past times would be wrapped up in producing document after document to cover accountability and track progress. It is a long-winded and arduous task, often time consuming and in the end creates long lead times for development.
Web designers will always favour working software over documentation (or websites, in this case). A lot can be found out from a work-in-progress website, even if it is half finished. Integral issues to a website’s success such as interaction, ease-of-navigation, user-experience, flow, design and engagement can often be concluded during the early stages of development.
If it doesn’t feel right from the outset, things can be changed early on. Obviously, this is not something that can be achieved through looking at documentation alone.
Do not get tied in knots perfecting one section before moving on. Your deadlines will never be met if you chase perfection.
3. Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
In the creative marketing world, customer collaboration is key. It is your customer who will know best what their target market is, the forces in play, their competitors and the marketplace they are competing in.
The negotiation stage of building a website should come at the start of the process, where a brief is produced so that the agency can understand the overall goals and objectives of the new website.
As the client, it is then your duty to involve yourself during development to make sure the website being produced is “on brief”, and not straying away from the end goals that had been set out.
On the flip side, it should be the agency’s duty to challenge the customer, making sure the experience and creative input is what comes to the fore to make sure those end goals are being met in the best way possible.
Do not become personally attached. We often find one small opinion can vastly affect the outcome of a website. Step back and always keep in mind who the website is for and how they would react.
4. Responding to Change over Following a Plan
A final value to always keep in mind is that responding to change is part and parcel of great web design.
Confining and limiting yourself to a plan would be to ignore everything else that is happening in the digital world, and given that the digital world never stays still for very long, that is a dangerous game to play.
Responding to change will always give you the best chance to have an optimised website that best meets the needs of the end user. Where the means of interaction are changing all the time, the methods of communication will need to change along with it.
Do not plow on through a project if it will be doomed to fail. At the end of the day, you’ll waste your budget on a website that will be outdated even before its launch.
A Final Tip:
Fundamentally, a website is a tool for marketing. It is for end users to find out further information, make a purchase or enquire further. The development process, through each stage, should always have this in focus and in the end your design should be reflective of what your customer wants from your website.
Feel free to ask us on any questions about web design and development!