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On improving how websites are developed:
1. Talk to the users / Fully consult the end-users;
2. Let UI people and psychologists in there;
3. Let not have the engineers only have a say;
4. Get people who like what they’re doing. Have a core team of smart, motivated developers;
5. Take away budget pressure and let people do *good* and sustainable work;
6. Make them “own” their project. Give them responsibility.
7. Burn up all documents;
8. Find out use cases. Discuss them. Jot down drawings of all sorts of things on whiteboards. Take photos of that;
9. Use a P2 for documentation;
10. Don’t implement features nobody wants because they are buggy and hard to understand;
11. Deliver often;
12. Have more chocolate;
13. No #13;
15. Make the website testable;
16. Test a lot / Automate testing where possible;
17. Work on the website in one team across contractors.
18. Have project managers who understand software and give the developers time and space to do what they need to do;
19. Have enough money to sustain an environment where people don’t keep leaving (for example, like Google, encouraging people to start their own mini-business/project inside the company).
The biggest problem is that the people who pay for (and therefore control) website development don’t have the opportunity to learn how complex websites really are, and assume that it can all be done in a week. It needs to be user-led, rather than imposed upon them from upon high.
Get a real idea of how and what the website is expected to do. And only then start thinking of what technologies are needed to implement it.
When clients first approach us to see if we can help with designing a new product it is rare the case where the client will have a complete full picture of what he wants. Driven by our engineering impulses we often want to quickly propose a solution so we start asking a lot of hard but important questions:
- Who is this for?
- What problem does it solve?
- What is the business model?
- How will you measure its success?
- Why do you want to build this?
- Are you a domain expert in the field of the product?
- How are you going to deal with X?
- Have you considered the costs of Y?
The fact that the client doesn’t know all the answers to our questions may disengage many. But at WidgiLabs we consider it to be one of our biggest assets. We approach client ideas as if they were our own. That means helping the client in finding the answers rather than demanding one from the start.