B2B Articles - December 16, 2013

What is Iterative Web Design?

Web development planningAn overview of web design iteration

Iterative web design is a methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, designing, testing, analyzing, and refining a website. We recommend iteration with membership websites and social networks (among other types, for example).

The goal is to deal with the reality of unpredictable user needs and behaviors while quickly responding to opportunities in the marketplace.

The process helps an association achieve success quicker because it allows for a team to learn from data and metrics and quickly respond.

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Benefits of web design iteration

  • Learn from changing market conditions, member engagement, opportunities, and new data
  • Do not exhaust budget and resources in the initial launch of website
  • Plan to release features over time on a schedule. One option is agile web development. Another approach is to plan feature releases monthly or quarterly with analytics and opportunity reviews each period during the planning stages.
  • Get feedback and observe behavior in order to serve application users or member needs.
  • Align marketing and communications to feature releases. Use each release as an opportunity to demonstrate value to the member community or web application users.

Why is iteration important to larger web design projects?

  • A minimum viable project allows for an organization to launch a project early without exhausting their entire budget and resources. Also, stakeholders will be more invested in a longer lifecycle--burnout will be reduced.
  • Misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions can exist early in the project. Iteration allows for development over time as new learnings are shared across teams.
  • User feedback can be important for building successful applications. In an early stage of a project, the feedback will be less useful when there is nothing tangible to react to.
  • Web developers will remain focused on those issues that are most critical to the project rather than being constantly distracted on side projects or whimsical needs, which can be wasteful and destructive to business goals.
  • A project can align development/technology needs to business goals and real engagement data.
  • The workload can be more consistent, which helps keep quality high.
  • Leverage lessons learned throughout time--new feature releases will be paired with real needs and opportunities.
  • Stakeholders will be able to see progress over time and have more aligned expectations--rather than unrealistically expecting immediate success because no clear expectations were set.
  • New and on-going feature releases can excite users.
  • New and on-going feature releases can create press opportunities, blog content options and social media advocacy.
  • Members of the website or application will feel less alienated, as the organization appears to be making consistent and on-going improvements to the app, website, or community.
  • When new technology is released but does not excite the community, the development team can respond faster. If a feature needs to be scrapped or re-envisioned, waste is minimized.
  • Success rates of the project are increased because waste is reduced overall, and there are more inputs (data, feedback, and time) to get it right.

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