Developing an effective and successful presence on the Web is a requirement for all organizations. As the Web has matured, the development and management of sites has become increasingly complex. Today, Web site development requires the close collaboration of diverse professionals such as programmers, interactive designers and engineers, animators, videographers, writers, marketers, and businesspeople--all working within a highly coordinated and structured development process.
Written by a leader in Web development methodologies and processes, Collaborative Web Development brings structure and sanity to what is often an overwhelming and chaotic process. Drawing on the front-line experiences of practicing professionals and numerous real-world case studies, the author will help you get a handle on the issues and challenges you face, with proven strategies for effective coordination among team members and clients, a smooth development process, and a successful end result.
You will find in-depth discussions on crucial topics such as:
So that you can benefit from the experiences of those who have been through the process, this book includes concise interviews with accomplished Web site managers and developers who reveal valuable insights and practical suggestions for successful Web site development.
Table of Contents
Key Differences among Web, Advertising, and Software Project Management.
What Skills Do You Need?
Define Your Project.
Write a Project Mission Statement.
Identify Your Targeted Users.
Determine the Scope.
Assumptions for Budgeting.
More Preliminary Planning Issues.
Interview: Getting Your Arms around the Project.
2. The Team.
The New Web Team.
Evolution of the Web Team.
Roles and Responsibilities.
Putting Together the Right Team.
Identifying Necessary Skills.
Building a Team.
Managing the Team.
Team Dynamics: The Unique Issues.
Working with the Client's Resources.
Outsourcing or Working with Vendors.
Sorting Apples and Oranges.
Interview: Bringing in the Special Teams.
Steve Kirsch and Paul Smith.
3. Planning and Process Development.
Getting to Know Your Audience.
Defining Development Stages and Strategies.
Identifying the Development Phases.
Writing the Creative Brief.
Creating the Review Site.
Creative and Content Planning.
Creating the Concept.
Site Architecture and Schematics.
Identifying Technical Infrastructure.
Defining Technical Development Requirements.
Feasibility and Software Testing.
Planning for Maintenance and Growth.
Understanding End-User Requirements.
Planning for Change.
Effective Meetings and Reviews.
Interview: Managing Change in the Web Development Environment.
4. Communication Issues.
Communication Breakdown: Why?
Creating Effective Communication Systems.
Evaluate the Way Your Team Communicates.
Do You Need a Translator?
Tools, Standards, and Methods.
Leading Effective Meetings.
Interview: Developing Standards of Communication for Web Teams.
Indi Young and Pete Howells.
5. The Client.
Definition of the Client.
Differences between Internal and External Clients.
The Client Education Process.
Your Client's Point of View.
Communicating Your Process to Your Client.
Explaining Technical Issues to Clients.
Building Communication into the Budget.
Communication throughout the Project.
Giving the Project Back.
When to Hand the Project Back.
Handling Maintenance Requests.
Interview: Effective Client Management.
6. Multidepartmental and Large-Scale Sites.
Do You Have an “Internet” Department?
Does Your Company Have an Online Strategy?
Getting to Know Your Audience.
Making the Site Searchable.
The Web Team.
The Corporate Publishing Process.
The Subsite: Risks and Rewards.
Interview: Managing a Large-Scale Content Site.
7. Quality Assurance and Testing.
Quality Assurance: Some General Principles.
What Is Unique about Testing Web Sites?
The Promised Environment.
The Role of Testing in Quality Assurance.
The Role of the Specification for Black-Box or Requirements-Based Testing.
A Successful Test Plan.
Web Testing Tools.
QA and Testers Shake out the Bugs.
Interview: Quality Assurance for Web Applications.
8. Technological Advances and the Impact on Web Teams.
Emerging Technologies and Changing Needs.
The Web as Interactive Television.
The Web as Information Store.
Portable Web: Convenience and Access.
Preparing for Change.
Changes in the Process.
Interview: Web Sites of the Future.
Tim Smith and Joel Hladecek.
9. The Evolving Team.
Where Do You Go from Here?
Stay Up to Date.
The Care and Grooming of Your Team.
Changing Skill Sets.
Detecting Weakness in a Team.
User Groups (UseNet).
Heading toward Efficiency.
10. Case Studies.
Absolut DJ: The Consultancy Team.
Objectives and Metrics.
The Consultancy Team.
Background and Planning.
Power of Ten.
The E-Commerce Team.
Objectives and Metrics.
Oxford Express: A Shopping Utility for Lands' End.
Objectives and Metrics.
Background and Planning.
The Miami Herald Publishing Company.
When the Process Fails.
Key Obstacles and Project Risks.
Appendix B: Web Team Resource Guide.
Project Management Tools.
Web Design Programs.
HTML Text Editors.
Software Testing Tools.
HTML Conversion Programs.
Multimedia and Animation Programs.
GIF Animation Programs.
Java Development Tools.
If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Over the two years that it has taken to conceptualize and write this book, many people have asked me what inspired me to write about Web development, and why is this book different from the many other books out there on the bookshelves? This book doesnit offer a single-minded solution to the myriad of problems and issues that Web developers face. Itis not a solution in a box, or an "Idiotis Guide" to anything. Itis naive to assume that it would be possible to offer the single solution for Web development because of the many kinds of Web applications that exist: entertainment-based, information-based, commerce, or advertising. What this book does contain is a treasure of ideas, methods, devices, tips, advice, stories, and even a CD-ROM full of useful templates and tools to help you develop the Web team and Web development systems that best suit your environment and project objectives.
Who Should Read This Book?
This book is for a project manager or producer, or anyone who is responsible for putting together a Web team. It will help you understand what you need to know to build the right team for the project. It will also help you understand the Web development cycle, the issues you face with clients, be they internal or external to your business. This book will help you understand the costs involved in Web development, time lines, phases, and cycles so that you can create a process that suits your team and the needs of a specific project. The figure that follows this Preface will give you a "picture" of the bookis organization.
Heading toward Sanity
Why did I write this book? Many reasons. I had produced more than 20 Web-related projects and at least half of them seemed akin to torture. Through conferences and networking I developed a circle of friends and colleagues who were creating Web sites: the production manager at Cisco; the managing editor of the Miami Herald, the vice president of Snap! Online; producers at Red Sky, Novo|Ironlight Interactive, Ikonic/USWeb, and CKS Partners; and project managers at Netscape, Microsoft, and the Servinet Consulting Group. They were all saying the very similar things:
I began to develop a theory that the central problem with Web development is the lack of clear standards or methods for creating Web sites. There are many kinds of sites and applications. The people who are building Web sites today come from many backgrounds. On e-business sites, I worked with software engineers, security experts, information designers. In advertising, I met brand stewards, copywriters, graphic designers.
Each kind of site required a certain team and a certain methodology. There existed good practices that I could use from my e-business background, but they needed to be modified to fit with the needs of the team and the project. To try to enforce processes without the teamis buy-in meant certain project failure.
This book contains interviews with people from the following fields: software development, advertising, multimedia, film, publishing, teaching, and writing. It shows how and why we, as Web project managers and developers, must create methodologies and standards for developing Web applications. Not every suggestion I offer will work for you; your organization will have to decide what works best for its Web team. But, it's important to work toward developing methods that your entire team supports, understands, and wants to use.
When you can do that, and when you are able to articulate the method, then you will start to gain some sanity around developing Web applications. Not that you wonit ever experience a chaotic project again, you will. This book will, however, help you develop strategies to make those projects run as smoothly as possible, thereby reducing team burnout and, ideally, help your group achieve true job satisfaction and profitability whenever you take on such a project.
First and foremost, I have to thank my team at Red Sky for giving me the inspiration and support necessary to write this book: Adam Kane, Alisia Cheuk, Beau Giles, Christina Neville, Greg Meyers, Deirdre McGlashan, Jill Badolato, Kristine Gual, Sophie Jasson-Holt, Stacy Stevenson, Willy Lefkowitz, Pamela Snyder, and Yelena Glezer. You guys are the best. Thanks to all my colleagues at Red Sky for cheering me on.
Thanks to the great project managers I've known: Susan Junda, Chelsea Hunter, Lisa Welchman, Sheila Albright, Amy Lee, Stacy Stevenson, Deirdre McGlashan, Pamela Snyder, Christina Neville, Jill Lefkowitz, Mike Powell, Dave McClure, John Kim, Peter Rosberg, Don Howe, Lisa Bertelson, Linda Waldon, and those who've introduced themselves to me at conferences and trade shows. This book is really for you.
Thanks to the writers of books that inspired this book: Edward Yourdon, Louis Rosenfeld, Linda Weinman, Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister, Peter Drucker, Neal Stephenson, J. P. Frenza, Michelle Szabo, Phil Jackson, George Santayana, and Walt Whitman.
Thanks to the people who contributed to this book directly. Janine Warner gave me the original idea to write about Web teams, and she wrote the Miami Herald case study and most of Appendix B. Sophie Jasson-Holt, my friend and QA manager, wrote Chapter 7. Amy Lee, account manager at Red Sky, wrote the Absolut Vodka case study.
Andrew Klein, director of technology, and Gary Stein, account manager at Red Sky, wrote the Lands' End case study. Dave McClure, Peter Rosberg, Bayard Carlin, Dave Kendall, and Renay Weissberger Fanelli contributed to the Quicken Store case study. A big thanks to Tim Smith and Joel Hladecek for giving me a great interview.
Many thanks to the people who helped in the publishing process. For their thoughtful and helpful review of this book, my sincere thanks go to Heather Champ, Ken Trant, John Cilio, John Wegis, and Mitchel Ahern. Many thanks to my editor, Elizabeth Spainhour, who gave me support, supervision, and encouragement along the way. Thanks to Marilyn Rash's production team at AWL, Angela Stone of Bookwrights in Rockland, Maine, and Judy Strakalaitis of Bookworks in Derry, New Hampshire, for producing a beautiful book. Thanks to my agent, Margot Maley, for helping me find a publisher for this book.
Most of all, thanks to my family and friends, especially my husband Paul, for putting up with the late nights, early mornings, and weekends that I couldn't spend with you all while I was working on this book. Your understanding and support mean very much to me. And now that I'm done, bring on the beer!