Developing a website is one of the most crucial assignments in a business-IT endeavor. Apart from offering the much-needed convenience to both existing and potential customers, it’s also a vital channel to build a long-lasting relationship with them. In turn, it helps in creating goodwill while fostering the brand’s image and credibility.
However, most website and web application development projects do not end up delivering the product that is initially desired. One of the reasons is that following the traditional development ideology that is built on rigid methods. It usually starts with analyzing the requirements and planning, followed by development and testing. These steps are not allowed to overlap each other and each step is initiated only after the completion of the previous one. This creates the danger of projects getting stuck in the perpetual loop of identifying the requirement, which is the very first step.
The majority of stakeholders usually find it difficult to agree on the primary purpose of the website and its functionality, and in some cases, even on its appearance. It could take an excruciatingly long time for the project to get past the initial step, which can considerably delay the subsequent phases. Not being able to accurately plan for the demanded specifications can have a dire effect on the final result, which makes the next step of planning crucial for the project. As the stakeholders could insist on ensuring that this crucial step is not overlooked, the project could get further delayed.
Finally, in order to keep up with the time and budget constraints, the project may also face the risk of ultimately getting pushed into development stage without the right plan. Due to this, the final product may differ slightly or significantly with the one that was initially considered. As the organizations have no choice but to accept the product owing to various constraints, they would be living with it until the site turns obsolete.
However, the advent of Agile development methodology has brought an end to this chaos. This is a concept that has the ability to cater to the current scenario in which the web has evolved to become much faster and efficient. In order to keep up with the new web standards, even the development process has to be accelerated. At the same time, it also has to improve in efficiency and result-orientation.
So, when the opportunity to build a new site arises, businesses can choose to shun the traditional method in favor of a modern framework, which is refreshingly flexible and efficient in its approach. Moreover, with the huge number of advantages to its credit, the Agile concept has grown beyond its utility in software development to be adopted by other non-technical business processes such as marketing and human resources.
The essence of this modern approach is aimed at eradication of unnecessary delays, initiating sanity checks and performing only those activities that add value to the overall outcome. When it comes to web development, the objective of using this methodology is to streamline the project by investing the time and efforts on adding value to the website. Initiatives such as making the site responsive and much more optimal by conforming to the new standards can add the desired value, as the focus is firmly fixed on improving the user experience. Moreover, with the Agile framework, chances of accomplishing these objectives in much lesser time would increase drastically.
The Agile methodology is known for its flexibility, and one of the reasons it is able to ensure it is because of its focus on the involving the clients at every level. For instance, the representatives on the client-side are usually asked for their instant feedback on every new development and are instrumental in deciding every change. To ensure faster turnaround, the team members working on the project communicate regularly with the clients in meetings that are called Scrums. This is with an aim to maximize collaboration among all stakeholders working on the project, including the team members with different expertise. The project activity is divided into repeatable work cycles called as Sprints or iterations. Optimally, the Scrum Sprints are conducted every one or two weeks.
The steps that are followed in the Agile Web Development account for better productivity and usually include the following.
The process starts by gathering maximum details about the clients’ goals, vision, business environment, and their target audience. Based on this, the clients’ exact requirements are identified in a couple of discovery Sessions.
The teams that have been set up to handle the project collaborate with each other to create a profound list of website features based on their understanding and discoveries. The client then helps them to prioritize the activities that would be initiated to develop these features. This is a crucial step as the prioritization helps in streamlining the process by focusing on delivering features with the highest value before the rest.
Once the teams understand the clients’ exact requirements, the members get down developing the features. The essential features of the site and the application are delivered in a series of Sprints.
The teams regularly collaborate and discuss the developed features while consuming the feedback from the client. The changes advised are quickly incorporated and the results are reviewed and tested instantaneously to create a beta version of the site.
By developing the vital features quickly, the team combines them together into a product that resembles the final website. Based on the premise that changes are bound to happen, the initial version is released. The additional features are subsequently added in some time, and the final website is delivered.
The emphasis of Agile practices is based on the principle of delivering the core components of the site in the early iterations. The scope of the activities is determined regularly, which gives a clear idea on the progress of the project. This helps to keep it within the budget and time constraints. As cross-functional teams with experts having multiple skills are working closely, they communicate with each other regularly and share the updates. This type of collaboration leaves is very little rooms for errors. Moreover, as the client is constantly asked to review the progress, the quick feedback can be quickly incorporated to adjust the scope and goal of the next iteration.
Thus, by using the Agile methodology, the development teams are able to emphasize on the priorities of building the website, while being flexible enough to manage any abrupt changes instantaneously. This can speed up the overall process and could maximize productivity. As the time taken to release the product is also minimized, the Agile methodology can help the web development process to closely align with the core business objectives like never before.