Site Development's Fate

New Forrester report (requires subscription) mentioned on SIGIA. Firms Must Overhaul Site Development To Succeed. Industry by industry, Web sites will become so central to business that the distinction between a firm and its site will evaporate. With Web sites playing such a crucial role, companies will have to treat them as full-scale software engineering efforts, aligning people, architectures, processes, and tools accordingly. One of the suggestions in the report discussing assembing your team had this to say about IA and usability people. Architects, not just builders. Solid programmers and developers are the lifeblood of any site project -- without them, applications don't get built. But to master the complexities of modeling N-tier infrastructures and content taxonomies, firms should bolster their staffs with object and information architects. Without these skills, teams won't be able to properly create the logical partitions developers need to work safely in parallel or effectively manage the metadata and business rules that drive advanced interactions. Usability experts, not just design gurus. Creative designers help make the Web better looking and more entertaining. But creating software requires usability experts to build interfaces that help users achieve their goals on a site. One construction hardware manufacturer had designers create a navigation bar that looked like a drafting board. Marketing was ecstatic until usability consultants pointed out that the design meant too few product categories were being shown on the home page, frustrating customers. Real users, not just product managers. Product managers have a deeper understanding of the features and benefits offered by the sites they supervise than anyone else in the organization. But even the best can't objectively assess the quality of the content and tools their firms provide online. Saving $50,000 upfront by relying on a product manager's recommendations without gathering usability data is penny-wise but pound-foolish. Why? Because the firm will have to redesign the inadequate UI, adding six more weeks and $90,000 of customization to the project.