Posted on April 13th, 2008 No comments
We have started building a new website and an issue has come up around the prioritisation of the work to include in our first showcase.
Do we focus on developing the site functionality first or do we make sure we make it looks good by implementing the graphic design?
I will ask to make you own call soon but let me fill you in on a little of the detail first.
A showcase is part of our agile project methodology where the business stakeholders get a demonstration of what the team have been working on in the previous fortnight and are given an opportunity to give feedback on the results so far.
This is a new site we are building so there is nothing much to show at the moment but it is going to have quite innovative functionality and some people are quite keen to start making some early progress on this. We also have an awesome visual design worked out that looks very impressive on paper.
The other thing is that the business stakeholders are not 100% behind the project and are not really convinced that we can do this sort of thing. There is the distinct possibility that they might shut the project down if they are not happy.
Timelines, as always, are very tight and we can’t do both things.
So…what do you do ? Make some early progress on the functionality in order to prove that you have the chops or put your efforts into building the flashy interface that is all smoke and mirrors because there is nothing really behind it.
Right…made your choice?
I believe that when people look at a website, (or anything really), they make a split second judgment about whether they like it or not then go about collecting evidence justifying their initial impression. If the first impression is good they will start picking out things they like about it. Conversely, if that first experience is poor they will start finding things they don’t.
That split second judgment is so fast it can only be based on visual aesthetics. There is not enough time for anything else.
So you can have the most amazing functionality of all time but if it looks like arse, then most people will say that they don’t like the font and have to be convinced it is worth using.
The reverse situation is where you have a snazzy interface over broken or useless features and you will find that many people will persevere with it way beyond what is reasonable because it promised so much!
It is far easier to roll people downhill that it is to push them uphill. So we made our decision and went with building the interface first and just had images for most of the features. Hopefully our business stakeholders will see the façade of a great website site get inspired, fund the rest of the project and not notice that all the smoke floating around.