Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls: Agile Web Design

Are you chasing waterfalls? That is, are you dedicated to the waterfall methodology of web design and development when you could be streamlining your process with agile web design?

You may want to stick to the processes you’re used to, but waterfall web design will have you moving too fast. (Okay, okay, enough with the TLC references.)

As it happens, agile web development and design methodologies are not the “rivers and lakes” that I’m used to as a web designer. (Last one, I promise.) Thus, when I first heard about agile methodologies, I had to do some exploring to learn about it.

In my research, I barely grazed the surface of the topic, but I’m looking forward to an in-depth study of agile web development and design from educator, designer and writer Jason Tselentis, who will host a one-hour webinar on Agile Methodologies for Designers on May 28. I hope you’ll join me at the webinar as Jason explains how SCRUM – a framework for managing web design and development projects – and other project management methods can help web design teams get down to business and move products out the door much more efficiently.

shutterstock_144613484photo from Shutterstock

What is agile web design?

Most designers follow a “waterfall process” in which project assets are generated and shared, moving from one person to another in a sequential order: conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, implementation, and maintenance. This waterfall is linear, with checkpoints in place to aid project management and enable quality assurance.

But the waterfall doesn’t work for every project, and it can sometimes create problems because once each step in the process is complete, designers and developers can’t go back to a previous step without scrapping the project and starting from scratch.  The waterfall allows no room for change and no room for error, meaning your plans must be rigid from beginning to end. If you follow the waterfall process and you find it’s inconvenient for some projects, you have other options.

According to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, agile design and development is dedicated to discovering better methods for developing software and designing for the web.

The values of agile web design are as follows:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

This is not to say that processes and tools, documentation, contract negotiation and following a plan are not important—in fact, all of the values on the list above are crucial to web design. But agile web design places the most value on users, interaction, collaboration and flexibility.

Agile methodologies were created to solve some of the problems involved in waterfall methods. Instead of sequencing the process, agile web design begins with a simple design. Small elements are completed in increments, and at the end of each increment, the web or software design team re-evaluates the project’s priorities and goals.

This collaborative method is helpful because problems can be fixed and identified easily, and designers can incorporate customer feedback going forward. But, much like waterfall methodologies, agile design isn’t ideal for every situation.

500x500_AgileMethodologiesWant to learn more about agile web development and the waterfall?

Learn how and when to implement agile web design in Agile Methodologies for Designers, Jason Tselentis’ one-hour webinar on May 28. In the design tutorial, Jason reveals the waterfall’s advantages, as well as its pitfalls, and teaches you about how different, non-waterfall processes that use iterative and incremental development (IID) may satisfy the needs of your team, clients, end users and consumers.

He’ll explore SCRUM and other project management methods that can improve your team’s efficiency. You’ll see how project management systems and tools can enable you to release work more rapidly and more often, a goal that practitioners of agile software development strive to achieve. Register for the webinar here!

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