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Agile Web Development: Reduce Risks And Finish Website Projects Faster

Brian Bojan Dordevic
About The Author

Brian Decoded

President at Alpha Efficiency

Join me at the forefront of web design and digital marketing innovation. I am obsessed with web design, business philosophy and marketing performance.
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Managing web development projects can be a headache. You know the drill: deadlines are missed, budgets balloon, and in the end, clients aren’t happy. It’s a cycle that’s all too common in our industry, leaving you feeling stuck and stressed.

I’ve been through these challenges myself. Running a web development agency in Chicago and managing over 500 projects, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of web development.

The root of the problem? Relying on a development process that hadn’t evolved in over two decades.

That’s why I switched to agile web development, a modern approach that not many other agencies used back then. This method helped us manage projects more effectively, stay flexible, and keep our clients and team in sync. Agile web development gave my agency a head start in the competitive market, allowing us to compete with big players and offer fresh energy to clients.

In this article, you’ll discover the essence of agile web development, its advantages over traditional methods, and practical steps to implement it in your projects.

I’ll show you how agile web development can streamline your process, help you finish projects faster while saving money, and deliver websites that leave your clients satisfied. Let’s get into the details and see how you can make this shift work for you.

Table of Contents:
Agile web development

What Is Agile Web Development, And Why Is It Gaining Popularity?

You’ve probably heard the buzz around agile web development. But what exactly is it, and why is it becoming the go-to approach for many in the industry?

Agile web development is a methodology that prioritizes flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction. It’s a stark departure from the ‘set it and forget it’ mentality of traditional methods.

At its core, agile web development involves breaking down projects into smaller, manageable units, allowing teams to adapt to changes quickly and efficiently.

Its emphasis on adaptability, team collaboration, and client involvement makes it a powerful tool.

But is it always wise to rely on agile methodology for web development instead of traditional methods?

Agile Development vs. Traditional Methods

Traditional web development methods are increasingly showing limitations, especially compared to the agile methodology.

In traditional web development, the process is often linear and company-driven. You take a set of requirements from the client and then work through the design, execution, functionality, and testing phases in a sequential manner. This method, while organized, has significant drawbacks:

  1. Lack of Flexibility: Once the plan is set, making changes can be difficult and costly. If a client wants to alter something midway, it can derail the entire project.
  2. Client Involvement: The client’s involvement is typically limited to the beginning and end of the project. This can lead to a final product that doesn’t fully meet their needs.
  3. User Experience: Traditional methods often prioritize the company’s perspective over the user’s experience. This can result in a website that looks good on paper but fails to resonate with the end-users.

Agile web development turns these traditional methods on their head:

  1. Embracing Flexibility: Agile is all about adaptability. It accepts that changes are an inevitable part of the development process. By breaking the project into smaller segments (sprints), changes can be incorporated more easily without disrupting the entire workflow.
  2. Continuous Client Involvement: In agile, the client is involved throughout the process. This enhanced my agency’s relationship with clients, who appreciated being involved and heard throughout the development process.
  3. User-Centric Design: Agile puts the user at the center of the development process. Regular testing and feedback loops ensure the user experience is always front and center, leading to a more effective and engaging final product.

Agile methodology has proven efficient in web design project management, and more and more teams are starting to apply it.

Four Ways Agile Web Development Fueled My Agency’s Growth

I remember the first time my agency decided to give agile web development a shot. We were working on a complex web project that seemed to be going nowhere fast. Deadlines were missed, the team was stressed, and the client was getting anxious.

Enough was enough.

I decided to pivot to an agile methodology.

My team started breaking down the project into smaller parts (called sprints), each with its own mini-deadline.

Suddenly, things started to click.

Here are just some of the benefits agile methodology brought:

Agile web development gives you more control

It Gave Us More Control Over Web Projects And Reduced Costs

When we shifted to an agile methodology for web development, one of the most immediate and noticeable changes was how it gave us greater control over our web projects.

Instead of being locked into a rigid plan, you can adapt as the project progresses. This flexibility means you’re not just reacting to issues as they arise but proactively managing them. It’s like having a roadmap that allows for detours, ensuring your team always finds the best route to the destination.

The agile methodology in web development also helps you reduce costs.

Traditional methods often lead to overruns due to their inflexibility in handling changes. With agile, I’ve found that the continuous iteration and feedback loops significantly reduce the likelihood of costly last-minute changes. You can catch potential issues early and address them when they’re still manageable, preventing the need for expensive fixes down the line.

It Allowed Us To Finish Projects Faster… Which Almost Felt Like A Hack

When you implement an agile development process into your agency’s workflow, you suddenly start moving through projects at a pace that almost feels like you’ve found a shortcut. This shift dramatically accelerated our project timelines, a change that was palpable both for our team and our clients.

Instead of tackling a project as one massive entity, you break it into smaller, more digestible pieces. In my agency, each team member focused on specific segments or ‘sprints,’ concentrating on distinct features or aspects of the project. This approach allows you to progress in leaps rather than steps, ensuring that no part of the project becomes a bottleneck.

Agile is all about continuous delivery. You’re constantly moving, testing, and delivering small parts of the project. This method doesn’t just speed things up; it transforms the way your team works. In my experience, team members become more engaged and proactive. They’re not just waiting for someone else to finish their part but actively contributing to the project’s momentum.

What does this mean for project completion times? In simple terms, you finish faster. Much faster. By streamlining tasks, encouraging proactive collaboration, and focusing on continuous delivery, the agile development process turns what used to be a marathon into a series of sprints. 

Regular Check-Ins Minimize The Chances For Disaster

One of the most impactful changes I made in my agency was implementing regular check-ins, a staple in the agile workflow. My team regularly meets to discuss progress, and at the end of each day, my employees also submit daily stand-ups in Hubstaff (I highly recommend checking out my Hubstaff review to see how this platform can help your team become more efficient).

In agile, you don’t wait for a project to finish before reviewing what’s been done. Instead, you have regular check-ins. You catch issues early, adjust quickly, and ensure everyone is on the same page. This ongoing communication is crucial, especially in web development, where a small oversight can snowball into a significant problem.

I’ve Noticed Improved Customer Satisfaction After Implementing Agile Web Development

Since adopting agile web development at my agency, one of the most gratifying outcomes has been the noticeable improvement in customer satisfaction. 

Agile’s collaborative approach brings clients into the heart of the development process, allowing for regular feedback and adjustments.

This ongoing interaction keeps the project aligned with the client’s vision and fosters a deeper sense of involvement and investment in the outcome.

Clients appreciate seeing their ideas come to life in real time, feeling more connected to the evolving product.

Agile frameworks - scrum vs kanban

Agile Development Frameworks You Must Understand Before Moving On

Agile is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a philosophy with various methodologies under its umbrella. These frameworks share common principles of agile processes but differ in execution, making some more suitable for specific teams and projects than others.

As developers and project managers, understanding these nuances is key to implementing agile effectively.

In the following sections, I’ll guide you through the most prominent agile frameworks – Scrum and Kanban.

We’ll explore their core concepts and how they differ, helping you gauge which aligns best with your team’s needs and project goals.

Scrum

If you’re looking for a highly effective agile process, especially for small teams, Scrum should be at the top of your list. It’s all about sprints – focused bursts of work that drive your project towards its goals.

With Scrum, you get a clear structure and flexibility to adjust as you go. 

Understand the Scrum Essentials:

  • Product Backlog: Think of this as your to-do list. It’s where you prioritize tasks and requirements for your final product, constantly updating it as your project evolves.
  • Planning Sprint: Here, you decide the tasks for your upcoming sprint from the product backlog.
  • Sprint: This is your action phase, usually lasting 2-4 weeks, where you and your team work to tick off the tasks set during the planning sprint.
  • Scrum Meetings: Picture these as daily power-ups – quick, daily meetings where you sync up with your team and plan the day ahead.
  • Sprint Review: At the end of each sprint, you’ll sit down with your team, review your achievements, and brainstorm ways to improve the next sprint.

Scrum Team Roles – Who Does What?

  • Scrum Master: The team’s coach, helping everyone stick to the Scrum rules and smoothing out any bumps along the way.
  • Product Owner: The voice of the customer inside the team, setting priorities in the product backlog and steering the project’s direction.
  • Team Members: The heart of the operation, the ones getting hands-on with the sprint tasks. These are usually web developers and web designers who bring a mix of skills to the table, making the project come alive.
  • Stakeholders: Though not in the daily scrum grind, stakeholders’ needs and feedback are crucial. They influence the project’s planning stages and overall goals.

Kanban

If you’re a web developer looking for a more flexible and lean approach to your projects, Kanban might just be what you need. Unlike Scrum, Kanban offers a less structured path to agile web development, focusing on continuous improvement and efficiency.

Think of Kanban as your tool for visualizing and managing workflow. It’s all about seeing your tasks move from start to finish. You use a board, either physical or digital, to track your progress. Tasks are moved across the board from ‘To Do’ to ‘Done,’ giving you a clear picture of where everything stands.

The main difference between Kanban and Scrum is that Kanban ditches the sprint-based approach. You get a continuous flow of work, allowing you to adapt on the fly. This means if your web application project needs a sudden shift or an unexpected feature, you can incorporate these changes without waiting for the next sprint.

As a web developer, you’ll find Kanban especially useful for its lean approach to development. It’s all about cutting out the unnecessary and focusing on what adds value to your web application. 

7 Steps To Successful Agile Web Development Process

Embarking on the journey of implementing agile web development in your team or agency? Great choice! To help you navigate this transition smoothly, I’ve put together a clear, concise 7-step guide. Think of it as your roadmap to successfully integrating agile methodologies into your workflow.

These seven steps are designed to be your checklist, ensuring that you don’t miss any crucial elements in adopting an agile web design process.

Set clear goals

Step 1: Set Clear Goals

The first step in your agile software development journey is setting clear end goals for your project.

Start by asking yourself: What is the ultimate purpose of this project? Are you creating a brand-new web application? Revamping an existing website to enhance user experience? Or are you integrating new features to stay ahead of market trends?

Your end goal should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound
Brainstorming ideas

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas With Your Team and a Client

After setting your goals, the next step in agile web development is brainstorming ideas with your team and the client.

Encourage each member to bring their unique perspectives and ideas to the table. This is where your team’s diverse skills and experiences shine, offering creative solutions and innovative approaches to the project. Remember, every voice matters in Agile, and the best ideas often come from collaborative thinking.

This step is also an opportunity to better understand the client’s needs and preferences. You can also go through a web design checklist with your clients to ensure they understand all the features a high-quality website needs.

Creating a project roadmap and release plan

Step 3: Create a Project Roadmap and Release Plan

Now that you’ve set clear goals and brainstormed with your team and client, it’s time to bring that vision to life with a project roadmap and release plan.

Remember, this roadmap is your guide from the initial concept to your Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and it’s crucial for steering your project in the right direction.

Think of your project roadmap as the big picture of your web development endeavor. It’s where you outline the main requirements, user stories, and a rough timeline.

In agile, you want your roadmap to be goal-oriented. Concentrate on key objectives, like improving user interaction or incorporating innovative features. Keep features to a minimum for each goal, maintaining clarity and focus.

You’ll need input from various stakeholders – marketing, sales, support, and your development team. 

Get this roadmap ready before diving into sprint planning. It should take enough time to cover all your goals thoroughly, but remain agile. My website planning guide might help if you start feeling stuck during this phase.

Sprint planning

Step 4: Sprint Planning

After laying out your project roadmap, the next step is sprint planning. This is where you shift from the broader view of your project to the specifics of what you’ll achieve in the upcoming sprint.

In sprint planning, you and your team pick items from the product backlog you can realistically complete in the upcoming sprint. These items should contribute to the creation of functional software or tangible project progress. It’s a focused session where you decide what tasks will take priority and set clear objectives for the short cycle ahead.

You conduct sprint planning at the beginning of each sprint cycle. For instance, if you’re working with weekly sprints, you’d have this planning session at the start of each week. It’s a time to regroup, reassess, and set the agenda for the days ahead.

While you don’t want to linger too long in planning, it’s a vital step that can take a few hours. It sets the tone for the entire sprint, so giving it the attention it deserves is essential. Once your sprint is planned, your team is ready to dive into the tasks and start making tangible progress.

Daily standups agile web development

Step 5: Use Daily Stand-ups to Keep On Track

Once your sprint is underway, step five in agile web development comes into play: using daily stand-ups to keep your project on track. 

In Alpha Efficiency, I’ve fine-tuned our stand-up process to make it as effective as possible. At the end of each day, team members submit their updates via Hubstaff. They detail the work they’ve completed, outline what they’re targeting next, and report any challenges they’ve faced. Additionally, we summarize our day’s work in our team channels on Slack.

These stand-ups are invaluable for keeping the project moving smoothly. They help identify issues early, allowing for quick resolution and minimizing delays. Plus, they keep the team connected and focused on common goals, which is essential in a dynamic environment like web development.

Sprint review

Step 6: Sprint Review

The sprint review marks a crucial step in your agile web development journey. It’s the moment when you and your team pause to evaluate the work done during the sprint, ensuring it aligns with your project goals and stays true to the established site structure.

It’s a vital part of your agile project methodologies, enabling you to measure progress and ensure the project is on the right track.

During the sprint review, focus on several critical areas:

  • Alignment with Goals: Evaluate how the completed tasks contribute to the overall project goals.
  • Site Structure and Functionality: Check if the developed features and site structure meet the required standards and functionality.
  • Managing Scope Creep: Discuss any instances where the project’s scope expanded unexpectedly and how your team addressed these changes.

The sprint review is an opportunity to adapt and refine your approach. It’s not just about checking off completed tasks; it’s about learning and adapting. This meeting is key to maintaining the flexibility and responsiveness of your agile approach, allowing you to adjust your plan based on user feedback and progress.

Step 7: Move On To The Next Set of Work

After a thorough sprint review, you’re ready to take what you’ve learned and apply it to the next phase of your project.

Transitioning to your next sprint involves a few key actions:

  • Reflect and Learn: First, take the insights and feedback from your sprint review. What worked well? What needs improvement? Use these learnings to refine your approach.
  • Update the Backlog: Revisit your product backlog. Prioritize new tasks or re-prioritize existing ones based on the latest project needs and client feedback.
  • Plan Your Next Sprint: With an updated backlog, you’re ready to plan your next sprint. This involves selecting tasks from the backlog that align with your project’s current phase and goals.

One of the core strengths of agile is its cyclical nature, which keeps your project moving forward continuously. You maintain momentum and keep your team engaged and productive by smoothly transitioning from one sprint to the next.

Remember, agile is more than a series of steps; it’s an ongoing journey of improvement and adaptation. Each sprint is an opportunity to refine your process, enhance collaboration, and deliver better results. 

Final Thoughts – Mastering Agile Web Development Can Give You A Head Start

Diving into agile web development isn’t just a shift in methodology; it’s a transformative step in your professional journey. It gave me and my team more confidence before tackling each project, allowing us to satisfy clients later on while eliminating stress.

Experimenting with agile is a learning adventure. Each project becomes a playground for new strategies and solutions. You’ll find yourself adapting faster, meeting client needs more effectively, and delivering results that truly stand out. The journey is as rewarding as the destination.

If you’re feeling stuck with your website project, feel free to schedule a call with me. During the strategic consulting session, I’ll try to help you find the path to digital success.

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