Agile Web Development: Process, Examples and More
At the latest count, there were about 1.13 billion websites in the world. It is hard to imagine life without them; equally, it is difficult to imagine any business entering the commercial landscape without building – and then constantly upgrading – a top-quality online presence.
As a result, the process of designing and delivering outstanding websites is firmly in the spotlight. When you want to maximize your visibility, it’s essential that the steps you take to spread your message to the world are as nimble and progressive as possible.
Which is why agile methodology is such an important topic. It is virtually impossible to deny that the agile web development process is the best way to bring your website to life, and to bring to fruition any associated digital transformation.
But what is agile web development? How does it ensure the optimal creation process for websites of all sizes, and the successful delivery of software projects?
At ZirconTech, we have extensive expertise in the use of agile web development to create outstanding digital experiences for our clients. Our knowledge of the flexibility and versatility involved in the agile web development process puts us in an ideal position to offer you a detailed guide. Let’s define, and discuss the benefits of, agile web development.
What is Agile Web Development?
Perhaps the best place to start when defining agile web development is with an illustration of what it is not. Agile web development strikes a vivid contrast with what went before, the traditional method by which websites were brought to life.
This is most commonly known as the Waterfall Method. It is a linear method whereby a web development process was completed strictly one step at a time, with a review after each stage. As you can imagine, this is a methodical, laborious and incredibly time-consuming way to complete a web project.
It is now nearly three decades since developers realized there was a far more efficient and effective way to deliver web and software projects. Many of the agile web development techniques we take for granted today date back to the 1990s. That is the decade when you will have first heard names like Scrum, Extreme Programming, and Feature-Driven Development.
However, agile web development took its biggest step forward in 2001, with the publication of the Agile Manifesto by a group of leading developers, which laid out the 12 principles of agile web development. Collectively, this document outlined a process that was far more nimble, collaborative, and effective.
And over more than two decades since, those principles have helped numerous businesses through the efficient delivery of websites and other development projects.
But what does that look like in practice? How does the agile web development process work?
The Agile Web Development Process
The cornerstones of agile web development are flexibility, collaboration and communication. Rather than one single, stretched-out, linear process, you can think of agile methodology as a series of different areas of any web development project being carried out simultaneously.
By the end of this initial meeting, every member of that extended team should have a sound understanding of the overall aim of the project, and of the process that will bring it to fruition.
Under the guidance of a senior manager, the work needed to complete the project is divided into a set of “sprints”. Sprints are the building blocks of agile web development. Each will have a particular task that needs to be completed to assist in the overall work.
Sprints can last a couple of weeks, or maybe a month; what matters is that the members of the team required to deliver the target for that sprint understand what is required and can move forward with confidence.
After each sprint, there should be a meeting of all the team members to assess the success of the sprint and to share any learnings – again, communication is absolutely key to the success of agile web development.
Of course, different sections of the overall project can be addressed and completed simultaneously. The key figure in this is the project manager, who has a vision of all the various work streams and sprints. By being able to constantly evaluate the project’s progress, this person can identify issues and hold-ups and address them so that the work continues to move forward at a satisfactory pace.
If you want a simple breakdown of the structure of each sprint, it is as follows: Discover -> Design -> Develop -> Test. In the ideal agile web development model, each sprint achieves its aim of delivering a satisfactory outcome that works towards the overall mission – which in turn will be completed in far less time than a similar piece of work undertaken using the Waterfall method would occupy.
Benefits of Agile Web Development
There are several reasons why agile methodology represents the ideal solution when you are planning a web development project. They can be summarized as follows:
- Increased customer satisfaction: Agile web development keeps the product owner far closer to the project. They can see how the work is progressing, and can feed back with any proposed changes. The fact that the agile web development process should deliver a much faster result than traditional methods should also keep them happy.
- Greater control: Regular sprint meetings and good communication ensure there is visibility of the whole project, and all its constituent parts, for the team or individuals overseeing the work.
- Regular testing: Testing is a key element of agile web development. At each stage, the elements produced should be checked to make sure they function correctly and contribute to a smooth-running overall project.
- Lower costs: By definition, the fact that agile web development delivers faster results means the cost of the project in overtime, consultancy fees and any associated materials will be reduced.
- Regular delivery: The agile web development process involves a series of targets that must be hit in successive sprints. That means new features are developed and incorporated, and those in charge of the project and product have a clear view of the progress that is being made.
- Lower risk: The regular communication and collaboration that drives agile web development ensures the possibility of a catastrophic failure is greatly decreased. You can monitor progress, identify any potential upcoming risks, and move to address them as part of the sprint process. The customer, or product owner, is involved in the process too, so with good communication there should be no unpleasant surprises at any point.
- Flexibility: If there is one word that sums up the benefits of agile web development, this is it. The sprint model means that parameters and targets can be discussed, flexed and even changed at short notice. The integration of communication and collaboration ensures a project team and its leaders can respond flexibly to changing requirements and assimilate them while maintaining forward momentum.
Examples of agile methodology
While the overall concept of agile web development has gained significant traction and recognition in the software development world, there are various different ways in which the principles of agile web development can be applied.
Let’s look in detail at some of the most popular agile web development methodologies – and how they deliver results to the people and organizations that use them:
In many ways, Scrum is the system that embodies most closely the overall principles of agile web development. It’s a project management framework with the core values of collaboration and communication at its heart. The five core values all Scrum teams are encouraged to follow are Commitment, Courage, Focus, Openness and Respect.
Those teams use three tools – also called artifacts – to plan the successful delivery of a project. The Product Backlog is the list of requirements that must be completed for its overall success; the Sprint Backlog is the items that must be completed in the next sprint; and the Increment is the step towards the overall goal or vision that is delivered at the end of each sprint.
Extreme Programming (XP)
XP is a system often used in conjunction with Scrum. It focuses on short-term aims and deliverables, and uses sprints that tend to be just two weeks long. Whereas Scrum methodology can be applied to projects in a wide variety of commercial situations, XP is all about dynamically changing software requirements.
Feature Driven Development (FDD)
FDD is an ideal agile methodology for complicated, long-term projects. Whereas Scrum focuses on working towards overall delivery, FDD is all about features. Sprints tend to be much shorter – between two and 10 days rather than 2-4 weeks – and teams communicate via documentation rather than at daily meetings, which tends to be the pattern with Scrum.
Dynamic Systems Development Methods (DSDM)
While Scrum tends to focus on the development of particular web products, DSDM can be applied to a project context. The scope tends to be tighter, and there is an increased need for governance. This fits with its overall philosophy that a project must be aligned to clearly defined strategic goals, and focus on early delivery of benefits to a business.
Adaptive Software Development
ASD is a relatively new agile web development model. It benefits teams looking for quick responses to changes in the work and project environment. Lightweight planning and continuous learning are at the heart of ASD.
As you can see, many of these examples of agile methodology are extremely closely related. The underlying principles that make agile such a compelling option are present in most, if not all; the need to collaborate, the importance of communication, and the alignment of the work being carried out with a strategic goal.
The overall message is clear as to why agile methodology is the right way forward for businesses and development teams faced with the need to launch new web projects. It’s faster, it’s more economically efficient, and it encourages a collaborative culture among the people working with it.
Why ZirconTech can help you achieve agile web development goals
When ZirconTech works with a client, we ensure the following principles are central to our agile web development process:
- Clear and continuous communication: We make sure we are able to communicate at all times with our clients’ teams. This includes escalation mechanisms, so that issues and challenges raised by customers can be addressed and resolved as swiftly as possible.
- Control of project deliverables: Collaboration is essential in the maintenance of an effective agile process. It’s also key that our clients are kept in the loop constantly, to monitor progress and ensure strategic alignment with our teams.
- Low-risk projects: By creating open communication links and encouraging transparency at every stage of an agile web development process, we ensure that the level of risk associated with any project is significantly reduced. We also ensure all information management is protected by an NDA.
- On-time delivery: Thanks to the thoroughness of our planning process, and the detail with which we define requirements and roadmaps, we always achieve timely completion of a project. Another factor that helps in this respect is the way we are able to bond with a client in the creation of a single, unified team.
If you would like ZirconTech to apply our expertise in agile web development to the creation of a website or the delivery of other digital transformation projects, we will be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us today to begin our conversation.