On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
By continuing to use LinkedIn’s SlideShare service, you agree to the revised terms, so please take a few minutes to review them.
A web site ruled by form is like a house without a blueprint.
A web site ruled by function is like a custom built house carefully designed by an expert architect.
Through examination of web development strategy, web developers can see that successful web projects are built upon goals, which thereby illustrates the irreversible dominance of function over form in commercial web design.
This essay will show the strategic phase of web projects built on a functional foundation of goals, research, project management, and design.
Function-driven plans in strategy
The first aspect of strategy proves a function-driven plan is better than a form-driven plan.
The first section of the research paper examines the first aspect of web development strategy and the three phases of strategy: research, project management, and design.
Strategy is the pursuit to align reality with goals, goals achieved when “the one with more advantages wins [...] strategy is the ceaseless pursuit of advantage” (Boar, 2001, p. 4).
Strategic foresight begins with a frame of the problem.
“ Framing enables analysts to define the scope and focus of the problems requiring strategic foresight” (& Bishop, 2006, p. 13) .
The defined scope and focus help to define a functional purpose statement.
The purpose statement is a set of goals the builder is expected to achieve, similar to the contract a custom home buyer writes with an architect.
Goal fulfillment is driven by expectations
In web-based enterprises, “each group has expectations, and the sooner that they know whether a site will fulfill those expectations, the better it is for everyone” (Feiler, 2000, p. 154).
The architect is expected to fulfill the house from the contract in the same way a web developer is expected to fulfill the site plan from the purpose statement.
Both parties fulfill an expectation of function-driven goals.
Form- versus function-driven plans
A form-driven plan lacks the comprehensive purpose and scope needed to see the end goals of the spokesperson, and instead plans for short-sighted elements of form, such as features or aesthetics.
Purposeful contracts, defined scope and limits, and advantage over problems are proof that for a strategy to exist, web managers must form function-driven goals.
Research of end users
The function-driven goal of a web project is to reach a target audience of customers or end users.
The research tactics of environmental scans and customer requirement evaluation show web managers that function-driven plans are better than form-driven plans.
A a set of personas is created from a summary of the raw data.
“ Personas are fictional narratives describing particular representative users and serve as a stand-in for real users during the design process” (Lynch & Horton, 2009, Ch. 2, p. 5).
Form versus function in research
End-users visit a company site for function, not elements of form.
The function-driven architect of a house researches what the buyers need most from a house.
A form-driven plan ignores the needs of buyers in favor of popular trends.
Environmental scans give managers a comprehensive perspective of problems in web design.
“ The goal is to come up with a mix of basic driving forces that suggest the most likely future, and some insight into potential change drivers that may lead to alternative future outcomes (Hines & Bishop, 2006, p. 55)”.
Form-based thought leaves managers without any suggestion of the “basic driving forces” and vulnerable to the unexpected.
Form- and function-centered plans do not give managers a map to the exact changes of the future, but “insight into potential change drivers” does allow for tactical changes in form.
The project manager
This section continues to show that function-driven plans and web site management are better than form-driven plans in web site management.
The web manager is the architect of site function and the core team is in charge of site form.
The manager of a web project “must provide the business sense and logic that will bring the project successfully to completion” (Warner, 2001, p. 10).
The web manager as key communicator
Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton say, “[t]he project manager acts as the primary contact between the web team and the sponsor and manages the overall communication among creative, technical, and production elements of the web site team (2009, Ch. 1, p. 2)”.
Form versus function in managerial roles
The form-centered project manager is similar to a movie director, whose primary concern is to give creative life to a project and to be free from the structural mandates of function.
The form-driven role of director cannot exist without the function-driven logistics work of the producer.
In the same way, form-driven plans are dependent on function for a final goal.
The web manager is the function-driven architect of the web development team who will implement a forecast with the help of form-driven specialists.
“ Ideally, your site designers should be involved as soon as possible in the planning discussions (Lynch & Horton, 2009, Ch. 1, p. 7)”.
The earliest possible involvement of designers allows the web manager to continue to focus on function, and minimizes the time form-based core designers spend in pre-production.
With a frame and scan complete, a forecast of alternative futures can begin (Hines & Bishop, 2006, pp. 85-123).
Forecasts examine risk, core foundations, and failures; it diversifies techniques, ideas, and eliminates faulty assumptions.
The functionality of emergent management
“ Enterprise architects must decentralize decision making to enable innovation [...] In decentralized organizations innovation is dynamic and change is organic” (Burke, 2008, Table 1 ).
The “decentralized decision making” to techs, designers, and other staff chosen based on their abilities still allows the crew meet the previously defined goals and create a vision in the best way they see fit.
Emergent management places priority on function, and allows form to emerge from the crew upwards.
A developmental model gives the project clear landmarks of progress towards a goal chosen by function-driven strategy.
Because developmental models follow basic principles of function, the form of the models can vary.
In the best model, “good project management uses the strengths of both iterative and linear models,” say Lynch & Horton (2009, Ch. 2, p. 6).
The hybrid model blends the reliability of consistent function with the variety of form.
Deadlines for development
The discouragement of iterations in the development and test phases forces final ideas to be implemented. The form is not permitted rule and landmarks are met.
In the house analogy, second-guesses of construction work eventually encounter the inspector as a limit to work. At this juncture, work either passes inspection and meets a deadline or fails and breaks a deadline.
Deadlines for development Design is the bridge between strategy and production in time- and team-based management. After the heavy research in the scan and forecast phases, the vision of the site begins to form. Vision connects the forecasting to the present, gathers assumptions, consequences, and long-term strategies (Hines & Bishop, 2006, Ch. 4).
Usability as function
Site design should be centered around usability as the core principle.
“ Results indicate that Web site design quality in the context of e-commerce is related to four major dimensions: information and service quality, playfulness, system use, and system design quality ( Liu et. al, 2001, Key dimensions )”.
Business sites can compensate for their lack of playfulness with a stronger emphasis on the other three dimensions.
Form versus function in interactivity
Form-centered developers concentrate on playfulness at the cost of the other three dimensions.
Function-centered developers implement a well designed system with high quality information and content.
With the customer in mind, an interactive approach affects users in the same way as playfulness.
Accessibility and ease of use
Effective content design or usability is synonymous with ease of use and flexibility. To reach a broad audience, web sites diversify the options available to access the site.
Technological variations include electronic devices, browsers, and file formats. Sensory variations include sight or hearing disabilities.
A site is easy to use when it is intuitively navigable by end users.
Final plans use short-term goals to bridge vision with action (Hines & Bishop, 2006, Ch. 5). Planning allows for emergent architecture, choice branches, contingencies, diversification, and takes advantage of a company's unique attributes (Id., p. 171-186).
Technology design identifies the technology strategy for the site — platforms, standards, technologies, and how they can all interoperate.
The physical host of the web site is budgeted in the project management phase by the core team. The other decisions in regard to web host, content management, and security are left to the expertise of the techs.
Results of action
Action urgently responds to changes and reinforces all other guidelines by the realization of milestones, reaction according to plan, and follows the system repeatedly (Hines & Bishop, 2006, Chapter 6).
“ The user interface and visual design of the site may be much more visible to the user initially, but if the underlying organization of the site and its content is poorly constructed, visual or interactive design will not fix the problems (Lynch & Horton, 2009, Ch. 3, Introduction section)”.
The last phase presents a finished product to the end user, usually the public.
Rooster Teeth Productions is an example of how perpetual modification can continually improve a site (et. al, 2009, p. 10). RT is a “combination of product feedback and social site features.”
The modification is made possible by constant research performed voluntarily by the end user.
While site construction has scheduled deadlines and road marks of completion, dynamics sites build flexibility into the site for new features. Developers who allow form to follow function strengthen the best characteristics of each.
This research paper has shown the strength of a function-based foundation. By research of a customer and global awareness, web managers can form function-driven goals.
The irreversible dominance of function over form in commercial web design is shown in emergent management, ease of user interface elements, and continued flexibility.
The essay has shown the stability of web projects built on a functional foundation of goals, research, project management, and design.
With a strong foundation in function, a web manager can rest assured in a room decorated by form that the house of the site has become a well-designed home.
References Boar - Feiler Boar, B. (2001). The art of strategic planning for information technology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved June 30, 2009 from http://www.netlibrary.com/ Burke, B. (26 August 2008). Architecting the emergent enterprise: New game, new rules. Gartner, Inc. Retrieved July 4, 2009 from Gartner database access: http://www.gartner.com/ Feiler, J. (2000). Managing the Web-based enterprise . San Diego, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
References Haefliger - Liu Haefliger, S., et al. (2009). Modding as rating behavior in virtual communities: The case of Rooster Teeth Productions. ETH Zurich. Retrieved June 20, 2009 from http://www.smi.ethz.ch/ Hines, A., & Bishop, P. J. (Eds.). (2006). Thinking about the future: Guidelines for strategic foresight. , DC: Social Technologies, LLC. Liu, C., Arnett, K.P., Capella, L.M., & Taylor, R.D. (2001). Key dimensions of Web design quality as related to consumer response. The Journal of Computer Information Systems, 42 (1), 70-82. Retrieved July 4, 2009 from Proquest database access: http://www.proquest.com
References Lynch - Warner Lynch, P.J., & Horton, S. (2009). Web style guide (3 rd ed.) . Retrieved July 1, 2009 from http://www.webstyleguide.com Van Duyne, D. K., Landay, J. A., & Hong, J. I. (2007). The design of sites: Patterns for creating winning web sites . Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Retrieved July 3, 2009 from Google Books: http://books.google.com Warner, J. (2001). Managing web projects for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Contact the author Joel Benedict http://sites.google.com/site/websitebuildingresearch/ [email_address] Or send a message through YouTube For UAT students: Comment on my joel96 blog in Puniverse Add a post in the Web design section of the discussion area