In her introduction to Collaborative Web Development: Strategies and Best Practices for Web Teams, author Jessica Burdman quotes industry leaders as saying, "Web development is crazy." Throughout the remainder of the book, Burdman breaks the process of Web development down to manageable chunks and offers techniques to help you successfully complete Web projects without pulling your hair out.
This isn't a book about development tools or programming languages--it's a user manual to the process of managing site development from conception to completion. The focus is on team development since almost all such projects of any scale involve a diverse collection of professionals. Brief interviews with seasoned team leaders add real-world perspective to the topic.
Burdman provides frameworks for analyzing both the project at hand and the team you have at your disposal. She tackles the process with a discussion of getting the project off the ground in an organized and complete manner. The material here is presented in plain English instead of with the usual heavy emphasis on flowcharts and management theory. She also doesn't stop with the summary of a single project cycle but covers client issues, team communication, and ongoing team cultivation as well. This book may not make all your projects go smoothly, but it will sure help. --Stephen W. Plain
Topics covered: Project scope definition, cost budgeting, team assembly, content planning, team and client communication, client education, quality assurance and testing, team evolution, and case studies.
From the Inside Flap
If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.
- W. Edward Deming
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- George Santayana (1863-1952)
Over the two years that it has taken to conceptualize and write this book, many people have asked me what inspired me to write about Web development, and why is this book different from the many other books out there on the bookshelves? This book doesnit offer a single-minded solution to the myriad of problems and issues that Web developers face. Itis not a solution in a box, or an "Idiotis Guide" to anything. Itis naive to assume that it would be possible to offer the single solution for Web development because of the many kinds of Web applications that exist: entertainment-based, information-based, commerce, or advertising. What this book does contain is a treasure of ideas, methods, devices, tips, advice, stories, and even a CD-ROM full of useful templates and tools to help you develop the Web team and Web development systems that best suit your environment and project objectives.
Who Should Read This Book?
This book is for a project manager or producer, or anyone who is responsible for putting together a Web team. It will help you understand what you need to know to build the right team for the project. It will also help you understand the Web development cycle, the issues you face with clients, be they internal or external to your business. This book will help you understand the costs involved in Web development, time lines, phases, and cycles so that you can create a process that suits your team and the needs of a specific project. The figure that follows this Preface will give you a "picture" of the bookis organization.
Heading toward Sanity
Why did I write this book? Many reasons. I had produced more than 20 Web-related projects and at least half of them seemed akin to torture. Through conferences and networking I developed a circle of friends and colleagues who were creating Web sites: the production manager at Cisco; the managing editor of the Miami Herald, the vice president of Snap! Online; producers at Red Sky, Novo|Ironlight Interactive, Ikonic/USWeb, and CKS Partners; and project managers at Netscape, Microsoft, and the Servinet Consulting Group. They were all saying the very similar things:
"Web development is crazy." "Web projects are death-march projects." "I need to take three months off to recover."
I began to develop a theory that the central problem with Web development is the lack of clear standards or methods for creating Web sites. There are many kinds of sites and applications. The people who are building Web sites today come from many backgrounds. On e-business sites, I worked with software engineers, security experts, information designers. In advertising, I met brand stewards, copywriters, graphic designers.
Each kind of site required a certain team and a certain methodology. There existed good practices that I could use from my e-business background, but they needed to be modified to fit with the needs of the team and the project. To try to enforce processes without the teamis buy-in meant certain project failure.
This book contains interviews with people from the following fields: software development, advertising, multimedia, film, publishing, teaching, and writing. It shows how and why we, as Web project managers and developers, must create methodologies and standards for developing Web applications. Not every suggestion I offer will work for you; your organization will have to decide what works best for its Web team. But, it's important to work toward developing methods that your entire team supports, understands, and wants to use.
When you can do that, and when you are able to articulate the method, then you will start to gain some sanity around developing Web applications. Not that you wonit ever experience a chaotic project again, you will. This book will, however, help you develop strategies to make those projects run as smoothly as possible, thereby reducing team burnout and, ideally, help your group achieve true job satisfaction and profitability whenever you take on such a project.
First and foremost, I have to thank my team at Red Sky for giving me the inspiration and support necessary to write this book: Adam Kane, Alisia Cheuk, Beau Giles, Christina Neville, Greg Meyers, Deirdre McGlashan, Jill Badolato, Kristine Gual, Sophie Jasson-Holt, Stacy Stevenson, Willy Lefkowitz, Pamela Snyder, and Yelena Glezer. You guys are the best. Thanks to all my colleagues at Red Sky for cheering me on.
Thanks to the great project managers I've known: Susan Junda, Chelsea Hunter, Lisa Welchman, Sheila Albright, Amy Lee, Stacy Stevenson, Deirdre McGlashan, Pamela Snyder, Christina Neville, Jill Lefkowitz, Mike Powell, Dave McClure, John Kim, Peter Rosberg, Don Howe, Lisa Bertelson, Linda Waldon, and those who've introduced themselves to me at conferences and trade shows. This book is really for you.
Thanks to the writers of books that inspired this book: Edward Yourdon, Louis Rosenfeld, Linda Weinman, Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister, Peter Drucker, Neal Stephenson, J. P. Frenza, Michelle Szabo, Phil Jackson, George Santayana, and Walt Whitman.
Thanks to the people who contributed to this book directly. Janine Warner gave me the original idea to write about Web teams, and she wrote the Miami Herald case study and most of Appendix B. Sophie Jasson-Holt, my friend and QA manager, wrote Chapter 7. Amy Lee, account manager at Red Sky, wrote the Absolut Vodka case study.
Andrew Klein, director of technology, and Gary Stein, account manager at Red Sky, wrote the Lands' End case study. Dave McClure, Peter Rosberg, Bayard Carlin, Dave Kendall, and Renay Weissberger Fanelli contributed to the Quicken Store case study. A big thanks to Tim Smith and Joel Hladecek for giving me a great interview.
Many thanks to the people who helped in the publishing process. For their thoughtful and helpful review of this book, my sincere thanks go to Heather Champ, Ken Trant, John Cilio, John Wegis, and Mitchel Ahern. Many thanks to my editor, Elizabeth Spainhour, who gave me support, supervision, and encouragement along the way. Thanks to Marilyn Rash's production team at AWL, Angela Stone of Bookwrights in Rockland, Maine, and Judy Strakalaitis of Bookworks in Derry, New Hampshire, for producing a beautiful book. Thanks to my agent, Margot Maley, for helping me find a publisher for this book.
Most of all, thanks to my family and friends, especially my husband Paul, for putting up with the late nights, early mornings, and weekends that I couldn't spend with you all while I was working on this book. Your understanding and support mean very much to me. And now that I'm done, bring on the beer!
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