Over the past few months, I have been working a a number of quite different projects. But, even though the projects have been different from one another, I have encountered the same problems on each of them.
The problems I have encountered generally relate to project requirements and client expectations. What I have realised is that for a project to be successful and to be delivered on time (which hardly ever happens with IT projects) it is incredibly important to agree the requirements before starting.
Once these requirements have been agreed, there should be a line drawn in the sand. From that point no changes should be made to the original agreement.
Another thing that I have become aware of, which relates to expectations is that the average person wanting a webiste doesn’t care about technical specifications. As long as the site “works” then they are satisfied – They don’t care whether the site is table based and are more worried about the design then about fuctionality. This brings me to my “analogy”.
Whilst at lunch one day this week, we come up with “The house analogy” – lets call it that for now. What it entails is that I want to compare building a website to a house. When someone wants a house built they need to get a plan, blueprints, approval, building suppluies and other resources. What I am getting at is that there is a lot of planning reuired to build a house – you don’t just decide to build a house one day and then shoot from the hip.
I believe that the same should go for a website. I can’t get my head around the fact that people want a site developed without ever going through a process of planning. It is not sufficient to just provide a developer with some design layouts and then expect him to magically create a new website.
You can’t just give a picture of a house to a builder and say – “Build it, I want a new double story house with a balcony”. I am sure he would tell you to fly a kite! Well being a developer, it is so important to have proper requirments. I am talking about wireframes, process flow, sitemaps, information architecture and design. Not just a few pictures of a site.
The bottom line is that generally the average joe on the street wanting a webiste doesn’t want to spend extra money on that sort of planning detail and would rather go for the cheapest and quickest option. Sad but true!
All I can hope is that in the future, web standards will become more important and proper planning will become integral. This will make life as a develope lot easier!