Agile web development describes a methodology or workflow process that developers use to achieve their specific milestones and goals. It’s been described differently by different schools of thought. Some call it a philosophy, others think of it as a mindset and yet there are those who see it as an attitude towards development. I’ve even met a few developers who claim that agile is the code upon which all their life and work rests.
Nevertheless, everyone finds common ground in the fact agile is immensely beneficial to a project. So, step into this ride where we’ll we take a cruise into the depths of agile web development and see what it really is all about.
Agile development was conceived in Utah in 2001. Inspired software developers came together and put together The Agile Manifesto. This manifesto was designed to provide professional developers with a flexible and verifiable means of attaining quick software solutions and improve them continuously and easily. Agile development particularly ensured early delivery by streamlining processes to get rid of unnecessary time-wasting routines.
Traditional Web Development
The formative years of web development saw developers struggle with almost every task in the development process. Translating information and ideas into a website was quite a hassle. Ideas were expressed using paper prototypes, user personas, flowcharts and wireframes. Feedback was sourced from focus groups and/or case scenarios. The clients, who in most cases were company CEOs, dictated their responses to secretaries who then relayed the info to developers.
If you’ve played ‘broken telephone’ (a children’s game also known as Chinese whispers) you probably can tell that this traditional way of doing things was bound to have huge gaps of understanding between all the parties involved. This is why the game had to change. Key participants in the development team had to stay connected and develop new methods of getting information, goals, expectations and feedback in real-time. All these necessities along with various other factors become a mother to the invention that’s now ‘Agile Development.’
Web development has various distinct processes. Traditional development saw these processes as distinct steps each with a distinct timeframe attached to it. Agile development, however, sees them as ongoing and simultaneous.
Unlike traditional development, agile recommends that all stakeholders of any project meet early during development. During this time, they discuss and set goals and expectations of the project. Doing this saves time by eliminating unnecessary consultations during the development cycle.
In agile, all project team members are engaged from the get-go. Developers work on navigation as well as content from the start of the project. Any challenges are solved when they arise not just before product launch. Beta launches are a favoured way of feedback collection and maintenance is deemed as important as any other development step.
Agile Vs Waterfall
The agile development process is better understood by comparing it to Waterfall development model. In the waterfall model, the process of development is sequential. In fact, today most workplaces used this model; one development phase only starts after the preceding phase is complete. Waterfall model is simply rigid.
where as, Agile processes are broken down into sprints- cycles that involve discovery, followed by design then development and finally testing. The sprints are time sensitive; a sprint should be complete when its time expires. The result of a sprint is a tangible product or information that is fed into the next sprint.
Components of Agile Development
- Product Backlog – a list of features expected in the final product
- Sprint Backlog – a list of tasks to be completed in a sprint
- Scrum Meetings – short meetings held every day to set the day’s course
- Scrum Master – the scrum meeting facilitator
- Shippable Increments – every sprint should ideally produce a shippable increment i.e. a tangible
application that’s fully functional and showcases a particular feature of the final product.
Agile development has concrete advantages over other methods of development. Not only does it help projects achieve their goals faster but they also maintain brand consistency and produce better and superior solutions. It’s thus a recommended practice for developers working in a team to optimize the results of their project.