Succsessful Web Teams

Jesse James Garrett’s recent short essay: The 9 Pillars of Successful Web Teams complement nicely the book I am currently reading: Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. (yeah that is a bit overdue). Garrett suggests there are 9 basic competencies that come into play on successful projects: 1. User Research, 2. Site Strategy, 3. Technology Strategy, 4. Content Strategy, 5. Abstract Design, 6. Technology Implementation, 7. Content Production, 8. Concrete Design, 9. Project Management.
What follows if you read the extended text of this entry is a rambling piece of writing that attempts to describe how I am generally involved in each of these 9 “pillars” and then some attempts to pull all the ramblings together. When I started this post yesterday I am almost certain I had a point. I am just sure there was some underlying, message that I wanted to convey. I warn you now, however, you won’t find it in the extended entry.

  • User Research – Usually the first problem with many projects today is there is simply no time for this vital step. Clients may say they know their market but how often is it really true?
  • Site Strategy – This is where I typically have a lot of interest these days and can add the most to discussions.
  • Technology Strategy – I am somewhat involved with this – to a greater extent than I should be but when the need is there…
  • Content Strategy – I wish more attention was paid to this. all too often our project teams get Word documents culled from past marketing material as content for a website. For the love of god let us help you!
  • Abstract Design – Garrett defines this as the information architecture and site structure portion of design. I tend to be heavily involved here too as I am very interested in this aspect of design.
  • Technology Implementation – I am usually not too involved in this though I will occasionally delve in to template development or some such thing under tight timeline’s
  • Content Production – I don not think enough credit is given to the folks who take the designer’s style and apply it to oodles of content that was (usually) never designed for the project at hand.
  • Concrete Design – A rather hard name for the portion of the process that usually has the most focus on it. While I am often very involved in the feedback loop for the visual design – it is usually the navigation and information design arenas that I pull the most weight.
  • Project Management – My title: Producer, is based on my skills as a project manager. While I enjoy personal and team interactions a great deal, managing projects is not the most glorious of tasks – especially if you are not overly confident in the system you are managing within. I tend to view a project manager as ending up being squeezed by internal and external clients and (nowadays, all too often) a small overworked group of designers and developers.

While these “pillars” do all go into most projects, it is difficult for me to fathom that all projects can have 9 separate specialists assigned to them. In many cases then you have team members wearing multiple hats – which is fine in most cases – I guess. My goal for the next 6 months is to really work on my Project Management and Abstract Design Skills (with a little work on the Concrete Design side of things as well). I hope to bring the value of Project Management to a level where it is more apparent both inside the company I work for and outside to the industry at large. All too often it is pooh-poohed as something of a budget killer (and indeed I have seen this) but that is only if there is not enough value coming back and clients think they can, perhaps, manage the project themselves.

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