I found this image the other day and it is a brilliant illustration of the challenge of understanding and scoping custom web development projects for our customers. We all bring our own unique perspective to any problem. Customers have a business view, programmers have a data view and designers have an aesthetic and usability view. We all look at a problem differently and see different problems and different solutions. In the illustration, imagine the solution to the problem "make a hole that fits this object".
One of the benefits of entering our 20th year doing web application development is that we have made all of the mistakes ages ago. One thing we learned early on is not to assume we understood the clients issue the first time. What might seem like a simple problem with a simple solution could have far reaching impacts. We have programmed ourselves into corners more than once just by not asking the right questions. This came up yesterday when I was working with a client. We started with a fully automated solution (more programming, less on going management, always accurate), then considered a manual solution (almost no programming, lots of maintenance, prone to mistakes) and settled on a hybrid of both so that they had some ability to override some features of the automated solution. This was a 30 minute conversation and at one point in the conversation each option seemed to be the BEST solution.
5 Important questions for investigation:
- What is the users goal & benefit?
- What is the business goal & benefit?
- What is the process?
- What are the roadblocks?
- What are the options?
These questions ensure that we are looking at the problem from the same angle and will design a winning solution for you and your customers.