Yesterday’s post from Ryan at 37signals (the folks who bring us Basecamp) echos our thoughts on how to approach web development and other online projects. (We extend the model for budget allocation, as well.)
The key is never to let your reach exceed your grasp. Don’t deliver anything beyond what you can deliver fantastically. Meaning, don’t deliver anything you don’t have the time or budget to do right.
Obviously, it all comes down to how you define”fantastic.” It doesn’t mean every feature under the sun. In fact, that’s the opposite of what we want. Fantastic means bomb-proof usability. Pick the features you can do well within your resource limitations (time and money) and don’t reach beyond that.
We also go a step further in adding post-launch elements into the equation. A project simply isn’t going to succeed if you ignore on-going technical support, marketing and promotion, and metrics/measurement. Not factoring these items into your schedule or budget dooms you to failure.
- Production / Coding
You can’t throw all of your budget at great design any more than you can throw all of it at an expensive iPhone app. You have to balance each of the factors above against your available resources, and plan on making adjustments as your analysis shows you what you got right and what you got wrong.
(Usability isn’t one of the bullet points above, and that’s not a mistake. It’s not something to be balanced against other factors. It’s the underlying model for excellence that you should be evaluating against. If you can’t add a feature with great usability, don’t include it until you have the resources to perfect it.)