Before a professional web development team begins their first line of code, an even more fundamental decision must be made: Which development methodology is right for your website project?
After all, a web development team has a lot of moving parts, and every website is different. A basic template site may require a greater focus on content development and images, while a complex e-commerce site relies on a team of skilled developers, designers, and SEM experts to create a beautiful, functional website with high conversion rates. With so many team members working together to produce a seamless final result, it’s vital to keep everyone on the same page. There are two primary development methodologies web development teams utilize for productive team communication: Waterfall and Agile.
Understanding the Basics: Waterfall Versus Agile
Waterfall is the “old school” development methodology. Essentially, the team meets with the client, and the client says, “These are the exact features I want — let’s build it!”
Agile is a more dynamic, collaborative approach to project management. At the onset of more complex projects that require the ability to adapt, the client says, “I have a idea — let’s collaborate as a team and build a minimal version of it. Then, let’s test and improve with each step. We can even release a basic version, understand how people use it, and improve the idea with that information!”
In short, Agile is more — well, agile!
The Basic Agile Process
Waterfall tumbled into many pitfalls as a sequential, static development process. In response, the Agile methodology was created. Instead of sequential, Agile is incremental.
Instead of starting at the beginning of a project, then flowing directly to the end like a Waterfall, Agile teams work in “sprints” of work that take a segmented amount of a time — one or two weeks, a month at most. Then, the project is evaluated, feedback provided, and changes made.
Developers work collaboratively, using a morning Scrum meeting to organize their daily plans and keep each other updated. In this way, teams are able to communicate and move forward on each part of the project, each with separate tasks that come together to form a whole project.
Benefits of Agile Development
Agile development is particularly effective with large, complex, creative projects. If you have an e-commerce or Magento site, a site with unique features, or a site that serves as a large database, Agile might be the right choice.
- Agile is lightweight. It allows for changes in vision, or even for improving upon what already exists as new information develops.
- Agile is flexible. Using the Agile system allows for dynamic solutions, such as involving an SEM specialist in creating content or design features to increase conversions.
- Agile reduces risk. Since it encourages open communication between the client and project managers, Agile is great for those who value transparency.
- Agile can adapt to the market. Did something change in your industry halfway through the development process? We can update your site to reflect that!
- Agile allows for client involvement. Many clients feel more comfortable knowing they, as stakeholders in the success of the project, can help craft their vision.
Disadvantages of Agile Development
As with all processes, Agile does have some weaknesses that require navigation. For example, Agile may not be the best choice for a small, simple website — the overabundance of communication could slow down what should be a very fundamental project.
- Agile allows for high client involvement. Yes, this was also listed under the benefits of Agile — but it can be a weakness. Waterfall trusts in the expertise of the web development professionals, putting the entire project in their hands from beginning to end, which keeps the project expedient and on-task. Client involvement can slow down the development process.
- Agile can suffer from scope creep. Since Agile is so dynamic, able to respond to industry changes and cool new update ideas, the addition of new features and changes can not only slow down the development process, but also increase the project’s scope. That scope creep can increase initial price estimates, lower the priority of some features, and delay feature deployment dates.
Should You Use Agile or Waterfall?
Since our team offers custom web development projects, with complex features and sleek modern designs, we often recommend Agile. We value transparent communication with our clients, and find our clients also value having the flexibility to update their site to respond to industry trends and market shifts. Working together, we create something that fits your vision, while utilizing our expertise to ensure your project reaches its full potential.