Agile Web Design, Buckminster Fuller & I Love Lucy

Last week, Jason Tselentis shared his insights into agile web design and the waterfall in the live design tutorial Agile Methodologies for Designers, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each approach to the web design process.

Originally applied to software development, the waterfall and agile methodologies can also be applied to web design and other projects that require multiple steps and multiple team members.

To learn about agile web design in depth, download the Agile Methodologies for Designers  OnDemand at, or read on for a preview of what Jason discussed.

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Problems with the Waterfall: Lucy and the Chocolate Factory

Much like an assembly line, the waterfall has a beginning, a middle and an end. It takes you from start to finish on a linear path: Planning and Development; Analysis and Strategy; Sketching and Design; Reviews and Edits; and Final Build and Release.

The process was first identified by Winston Royce in his article “Managing the development of Large Software Systems” in the in 1970 issue of Proceedings of IEE Westcom.

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Remember that episode of I Love Lucy in which Ethel and Lucy bungle their jobs on the chocolate factory assembly line? Untrained staff and other unforeseen factors working in the waterfall process can hold up the works in a similarly disastrous way.

The waterfall’s shortcomings include a lack of streamlining and flexibility. It can be hard to get started with the waterfall process because there are many unknowns when diving into the process, and content collection and creation can be slow. With multiple parties involved, one might slow the process down.

That’s not to say that the waterfall is always a bad thing. Jason also shared when the waterfall can be a good thing. Download the webinar to learn when to use the waterfall as your web design process.

The Advantages of Agile Web Design

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As you can see from the Agile Manifesto, agile web design focuses on individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration and responding to change. All of these things trump the rigid structure of the waterfall and its focus on tools, documentation, contracts and planning.

All of this is in the interest of customer satisfaction, harnessing change, collaboration, communication, and speedy delivery of functional software. Designers using agile principles strive for a constant pace of production, technical excellence, simplicity and good design.

An agile web design team is trusted and enables and focused on self-organizing teams who can go back and repair problems as the process continues, bringing the project to fruition and troubleshooting at the same time. They check in at regular intervals to see what works and how they can improve.

This team-based approach allows for optimum function, quality and usability, making it a great approach for UX and responsive web design, as well as mobile app design—among many others.

For example, an agile mobile app is released early and updated often through iterations to improve the project based on customer use and feedback.

In his webinar Agile Methodologies for Designers, Jason shared five project management strategies for agile methodologies. He also discussed the difference between iterative and incremental development, prototypes and implementation.

He explores what agile web design can do for you and how to go about approaching projects from an agile perspective.

To learn more about agile web design and methodologies, download Agile Methodologies for Designers OnDemand at!

About Jason TselentisJason Tselentis is a designer, writer, and educator. He has completed print and interactive design for: the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum Hall of Fame, Continental Tires, and 20th Century Fox, as well as small- to mid-sized non-profits. He has also consulted award-winning creative agencies on best practices, and participated in think tanks and research studies with Intel Labs. As associate professor of design at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, he teaches visual communication design, brand strategy and development, web design, and typography. Jason has authored and co-authored books on typography, web design, and design history, and his writing has also been featured in Arcade, Eye, Mental Floss, Open Manifesto and HOW + Print Magazines.

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