Designing and building software is at least as complex and demanding of intellectual labour as the building of ships, large buildings or suspension bridges. If the number of failed software projects is anything to go by, perhaps it’s is even more difficult than these. In modern history at least, the underlying assumption when performing complex […]
(This post implements my new year’s resolution of sub-titling my sections so as to make me look like I know what I’m talking about.) At MailOnline, we have no development process. Well, that’s not entirely true, we use Programmer Anarchy. The developers decide for themselves which “table” they want to work on, and can then […]
When multiple designers work on multiple assets or across multiple projects, it gets very difficult to manage files over time. Which files are the latest versions? Which files are even relevant any more? Which files contain things that may be affected by the contents of other files? Yet with a few short-term exceptions, I have yet […]
On the few occasions I’ve told myself the situation calls for a Gantt chart – or more accurately the use of MS Project to plan tasks and dependencies such that I end up with a Gantt chart – I’ve almost always been disappointed. In retrospect, the complexity of the project, or my lack of skill […]
At Hotels.com we’ve been doing multi-variate testing (“MVT”, or sometimes “A/B testing” if you’re variant challenged) for a while. This means we typically build a number of different designs, then let them duke it out on the live site to see which one performs the best. Recently, however, I’ve been increasingly aware that while we […]
Agile development is a process (nay, a “culture”) that amongst other things has a number of revolutionist slogans attached to it. One of these is “fail fast” – sometimes boosted by the rejoinder “fail often”. My relationship with Agile has been a bumpy one, but I think I’m qualified to at least understand the basics […]
It has become a shibboleth of the UX and Agile communities that “collaborative design” is the best way of designing things. Or if not the best way, it is at least better than leaving people to come up with solutions on their own. Regular readers of Webtorque will know that if there’s one thing I […]
Last year, our fearless team of interaction designers, creative designers and interface engineers (about 20 of us at the time) took the decision to embrace Scrum, the “agile” methodology for project management. We were all given training courses to attend, and I myself volunteered (along with several others) to become a certified Scrum Master. As […]
I had a bit of a Seth Godin moment a while ago. I have been meaning to air it in public for a while. I don’t have such moments very often, so please indulge me. Working as I do in a large e-commerce company, I am constantly bombarded with information generally intended to make my […]
Scrum is now officially my thing (850K PDF), having just taken my certification exam after the training I had a couple of months ago. A score of 80% or above is considered mastery. My result was: 92% (1.1Mb large image) I would have got more, were it not for my failure to read one of […]
Whether or not you think that “user-centred design” is generally a good way of designing a web site, most would agree that before doing any real design work, you first need to listen. Ideally, you should listen to the people who will be using your site. At the very least, you should listen to some […]
It’s that time again, when my fragile designs need to be encased in a sturdy barrel of documentation and set off down the rapids of implementation. All I can do is hope that they end up at the bottom in one piece. If there’s one thing that’s constant about documentation, it’s the maddening inconstancy of […]
“Any clod can have the facts, but having opinions is an art.” — Charles McCabe So take that, “programme managers”
From BoingBoing today (guest blogger Clay Shirky!): Mark Hurst, the user experience expert [at MeetUp.com], talks about Tesla — “time elapsed since labs attended” — a measure of how long it’s been since a company’s decision-makers (not help desk) last saw a real user dealing with their product or service. Measured in days, Meetup approaches […]
There are too many methods of designing digital media. We currently have “agile” (hip, groovy) at one end and “waterfall” (a term of abuse) at the other. Each of our projects at LBi inhabits a space somewhere in between these two extremes at any one time – although because we’re an agency it’s mostly just […]
I’ve been reading 37 Signals’s book Getting Real on line. This caused a bit of stir when it came out as it self-consciously throws out the rule book(s) on application development and looks firmly towards the new dawn of Web 2.0, and (sort of) in the direction of an extreme “agile” methodology. All the rage. […]
Once in a while you get “one of those moments” on a project. This time, it was courtesy of the off-shore developers we’re working with. I’ve inherited the acceptance phase from the first iteration of an application that was specced up before I got on the project (I’m picking it up on the second iteration).
The requirements for iteration one are pretty simple, so I found it odd that while some aspects of the application were fine (the layout, menus etc.) others were just utterly wrong. It was almost as if they’d not even read the specs there were given.
Amazing. I get in to work on Friday, and the senior PM comes in to say that the client has decided to go for an ecommerce deployment so that £250,000 they’ve just given us to redesign their site along non-ecommerce lines (because originally they weren’t up for that) is canned. Well, maybe about 20% of it can be salvaged for re-use, but all the work I’ve been doing for the last three months (along with two other IA’s, some graphic designers and a PM) is definitely never going to see the light of day.
Well such is life. Good for our balance sheet, crap for job satisfaction. It’s the off-shore developers I feel sorry for though. We only handed them our designs at Christmas!
There’s been an upsurge in deep thinking about development process at work over the last few days, and I’ve been in somewhat expansive mood.
It’s been nose-to-the-grindstone this last week working towards an insane deadline to write up the findings (and think up some suggestions going forward) from a large card-sort being done while I was in Milan the week before. Planning and analysing the results of a 30-user card sort is actually rather fun. It’s rare you get the chance to do one – I only regret not having the time to facilitate more than a couple of sessions. And of course it’s more than just a pity it ended up crashing into such a short deadline, but such is life. At least, I say it’s just life. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’s something else as well.