Iterative web development the Monmouthshire way (Guest Post)

Joanna Goodwin
Our latest guest post is by Joanna Goodwin, who appears on our Digital Leaders 100 list under the Local    Government category. She works in the digital team at Monmouthshire County Council. Her role includes    managing the council’s web presence and digital communications. Get in touch with her on    Twitter @joannagoodwin3


At Monmouthshire County Council, we never aim for perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist. There will always be something we aren’t happy with; something that can be improved, developed or changed. When talking about web development specifically, I’m including content, navigation structures, layouts, design, functionality and processes. These are all pieces of the puzzle and should all be evolving and being updated continuously.


A cycle for change

flowDevelopment of any website shouldn’t be a linear process. Each change and update should be part of an ongoing process, a cycle. Each full cycle should be short and achieve a small outcome to make the site better. At Monmouthshire, we may do the cycle three or four times in a team meeting to do small improvements quickly.

Examples of times we use the cycle in Monmouthshire County Council are:

  • improving content on a web page
  • tweaking website navigation structure
  • updating a web form
  • shuffling the page contents around
  • improving SEO for one page
  • reviewing a process currently in place, such as a workflow


Situation Analysis: where are we now?

The situation analysis should identify a need or problem on your website. It should pick out one thing that you can change now to make the site a bit better. The source of the demand for change could be a tweet or comment from a resident; something shown in analytics or just a niggle for you as the web team.


designDesign: where do we want to be?

The design process generates ideas for updates or improvements. It should promote creativity and innovative thinking to solve  the specific issue. This should be small and achievable quickly. During the design  section, you can review your current offering and look at best practice from a  variety of business sectors to generate ideas to solve the problem identified in the  situation analysis.


Testing: how are we going to do it?

The testing section checks the ideas and solutions created in the design phase.  When challenging the idea, ask silly questions and invite feedback. Edward de  Bono said “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to  be always right by having no ideas at all.” This is the chance to fail, adapt or  improve on the previous stage.


Implementation: how are we going to apply it?

Implementation of the idea allows you to make shall changes, tweaks or additions to the website or schedule changes. This may be as simple as doing it on the spot. As a general rule, if it is difficult to implement, you have been thinking too big.


Evaluation: did we pull it off?

This is a chance to look at the problem or need identified in the situation analysis and decide if you are happy with the changes made. If not, use the same problem to do the cycle again. If so, find something else to change.

To find out more, register here for a live webinar,  ‘Iterative Web Development Process’, being held by Siteimprove on Wednesday, 8th October.

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