What is the The Web Methodology Project?
For those not familiar with navigating a ship in the open seas the process must seem pretty basic. You need to point the ship in the direction you want to go. There is a beginning, middle and end to the journey. However, those more familiar with nautical navigation understand that the process is much more complex and consists of various risks and unforeseen complications: unpredictable weather conditions, unreliable ship equipment, engine fires, unexpected crew illnesses and injuries, etc.
Far too many Web Professionals treat Project Management like a ship’s journey with simply a beginning, middle and end.
Your team may be filled with tech superstars. And online there are countless guides, courses, tutorials, forums, and Q&A sites to help overcome virtually any technical question or challenge they may come across. But what if your challenge is that your client is indecisive and won’t sign off on the design mockups? Or that the client keeps requesting out of scope changes? Or your project is being held up because your client is taking forever to send you their content? Or your projects continuously run past their deadlines? These non-development soft skills are much harder to find answers for and it’s especially difficult to find best practices to help understand which approaches are most successful.
Our industry loves technical best practices. It is likely your team has optimized and re-optimized every technical aspect of their work from the setup of their local development environment to project scaffolding to their deployment processes to unit testing. Yet when it comes time to present a prototype to a client or get their sign off on a new feature, they often “wing it” without preparation, clearly defined goals or a strategy based on best practices.
“[Web Agencies] often have the talent, but aren’t pulling together the non-development skills that make clients comfortable spending the big bucks.” — Matt Mullenweg, Creator of WordPress.
Web agencies rarely fail because they are unable to overcome a technical challenge. They fail from poor project management skills, communication inefficiencies, workflow bottlenecks, time mismanagement, disorganized client interactions, etc. While it is well understood that there are best practices for every technical process, there are also best practices for each and every non-development soft skill.
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 were undoubtedly the Years of the Tool.
We have a plethora of tools, frameworks, languages, abstractions and platforms including ES2016, Babel, Closure, Clojure, React, Ember, Backbone, Oboe, Angular, Web Workers, Service Workers, RAIL, Rails, Hot Loading, Node.js & iojs, Promises, Observables, GraphQL, CSP & Channels, core.async, immutable, HTML5, SASS, LESS, Emmet, npm, build tools, brunch, gulp, grunt, npm scripts, broccoli, ember-cli, mocha, phantom, chai, karma, sinon, jQuery, vanilla.js, Mithril, virtual doms, routing, isomorphic & universal code, Express, Koa, Elm, CLJS, PureScript, TypeScript, Flow, static type checking, compilers, compile-to-js languages, git, modernizr, webpack browserify, rollup, commonjs, amd, umd, SystemJS, js-to-native packages, Haskell, type systems, lambda calculus, functional programming, Meteor, transpilers, variadic behavior, context vs. contextless approaches, offline first, deployment tools, docker, macros, languages extensions, sweet.js, Bootstrap, Foundation, Sublime Text, Atom, containers, container management services, dev-ops & web-ops, WebRTC, JSCS, style guides, linting, WebGL, Unity engine, benchmark suites, online coding environments… to name just a few.
The truth is, we don’t need more tools. A new framework or language will not turn a failing web agency into a stellar one. Whether you are looking for CSS preprocessors or postprocessors, JS task manager or NodeJS web server we already have an abundance of choices. This is actually harming the industry as Yet Another Framework Syndrome (YAFS) can lead to confusion and frustration and is causing choice paralysis as developers are afraid of starting projects because they fear making the wrong technological choice.
That is why 2016 starts The Era of Web Methodology.
The Web Development profession is young. It is time for it to grow. Why? The developer-client relationship is poorly documented and so fraught with challenges that it’s a miracle anything good comes from it. Projects are more often than not behind schedule and over budget. It doesn’t have to be that way.
People have been claiming the death of web design for a long time. The industry isn’t dying, but there is no more Low Hanging Fruit. Gone are the days when every Mom and Pop business would readily spend thousands of dollars for a website which didn’t actually benefit their business. And the low end of the industry is highly commoditized. Web designers are competing with other web designers around the world who may charge a fraction of the cost. Web development tools are available to all. Platforms such as Squarespace lower the skillset required to build a website. Clients can no longer justify spending thousands of dollars on a web presence which doesn’t provide quantifiable value.
Yet the industry is booming for those companies which can provide exceptional value and which can help their clients grow and increase revenue through smart, effective web solutions. The industry isn’t dying, it is going through a rebirth in an ever-evolving landscape. But the game has changed. And it requires Web Professionals to evolve. The new-age Web Professional is judged by the value he can provide to a client (and should bill based on value provided, not trading time for dollars).
So what is the Web Methodology Project? It is a step-by-step handbook on how to run and manage web projects by documenting best practices of the soft skills. It is an opinionated, crowdsourced, best practice guide to running and managing successful web projects. It won’t discusses technical matters such as how to install Apache or configuring Grunt as there are already plenty of resources for that.
Inside you’ll find articles on pricing strategies, producing effective proposals, collecting content, increasing your rates, prequalifying clients, avoiding procrastination, getting client sign-off, tips on meeting with clients, building a high-velocity development team and many more.
You can find it here: http://webmethodologyproject.com/
If you are an experienced Web Professional (Developer, Designer, Project Manager, Social Marketer, etc) and you want to ensure you stay relevant, or if you are just starting out and looking to enter the industry, be sure to subscribe to remain informed and so you can participate in the discussion. We will notify you when new content is published.
Welcome to the Web Methodology. Happy Sailing.