I’ve been doing Web Development for years now and have gained a lot of insight on what can make or break a website project in any given stage of the life cycle. I typically am involved in full life cycle development (from start to end) and with this comes a lot of variables and unseen surprises. I’ve come up with a list of things that help a project stay on track and under budget.
This is the first post of 3 and will focus on the Analysis and Design phase of building a website.
Analysis and Design - The analysis and design is the MOST important stage of any website project. Some of the things we do during this stage are:
- Research all details from the audience to the back end integration.
- Make suggestions based on field research and client needs.
- Lay out exactly what the site will contain and how it will work.
- Plan out things like hierarchy and content importance.
- Create a design that suits the needs of the site.
As you can see it is a very detailed road map for the project. If something is not accounted for during this phase it could throw the entire project off track. If this stage goes well and all information is accounted for, planned for and explained clearly to the client it proves to be priceless for every other stage of the project. As a developer I can’t stress the importance of a good analysis and design phase. Some things that are done in this phase that help smooth over the development phase for me are:
- Clear communication and interaction from the beginning. I’ve found that sitting in on the last few meetings of the analysis and design phase is very beneficial for me in development. It assures me that everything being promised can be done and will work with other requirements of the site. It also keeps me familiar with the purpose of the site and why certain decisions were made.
- Written portion of requirements are also very important for me. I am very much a list person and having everything individually detailed out allows me to quickly finish development given there are no questions about what I am doing. It also allows me to test and ensure development is exactly as we promised. This saves what could be endless rework time of having to guess or hold off on items and then go back in and familiarize myself again just to make an update that could have been done the first go round.
- Lastly there are the design files, the actual PSD or AI files that have been created for the site design. Personally I feel the more detailed and thought out the better. If there is a form on a page did we account for the error messages? Is the file itself organized in a way that I can find things easily and slice from? Is it all inclusive in one file or do I have to open 10 different files? What if the text changes and gets longer? I prefer examples of all possible scenarios. Again if we have to come back and do things later it causes a lot of rework and headaches from having to redo countless other things to accommodate the change for that one thing.
The ultimate goal is to rinse and repeat the design and analysis phase as many times as needed to get a clear and accurate view of everything the site will entail. I know everyone wants to dive in and start building but just remember that we only want to develop once. Making sure everything is thought about and accommodated for in this stage ensures a more streamlined and surprise free project.
Please check back for the 2nd article in this series soon.Link to article