Iterations

Your web workers have their own special terminology, as workers do in any field. You should be able to ask what anything means and get a clear answer. On the other hand, some things are too complex for a quick definition, some designers are going to say, “Ummmm…” and we’re happy to help out.

Do you hear your web workers talking about “iterations” and wonder what they mean? Here’s an example.

The image above shows BillWestRoofing.com at an early stage, when Tom had refreshed the design and put in the new content.

This image shows the page in its current state. The fade-out picture of a roofer was added, and some phone numbers, the bars of tiny roof images have been added, the green and yellow circles ave been changed to text links, links for social media have been added, an additional page has been included, and the text has been changed.

This page has gone through several iterations, or sets of changes, to reach its current stage.

This is normal. And fun. And it can also be a frustrating and difficult experience, sometimes. The frustration and difficulty arise, when they do, from communication.

In this case — not a frustrating one, fortunately — we’ve had a variety of communication issues, ranging from uncertainty about which logos are the current versions, to questions about where various links should go, to uncertainty about which phone number belongs to which location. As I say, this hasn’t been frustrating. But it has allowed me to think about some of the things that can help make sure your next set of iterations won’t be frustrating, either:

  • Use a web-based solution like Basecamp or Google Docs to keep everything in line. Relying on emails sent back and forth among all the people working on the project is a sure way to get confused.Ask the team for access if you want it.
  • Name your files in a useful way — and get everyone to be consistent. On a recent project, we were shooting around files with names like “current_page” and “update.” If you all name your files things like “content-update-5” or “homepage_5.11.2010,” you have a better chance of identifying the latest thing. It also makes it easier to talk about stuff, because you can say, “I think we should go back to the call to action from content-update-12,” rather than, “I think I like the one before John changed it best.”
  • Agree on terms. On another recent project, various members of the team were calling the same item “slider,” “gallery,” “widget,” and more. Add people who don’t use the terminology and are therefore using phrases like, “thingamajig,” and you have some communication complexities in the making. Just saying, “Let’s all call this a slider,” can solve the problem.
  • Follow up phone calls and IMs with a written record. Whether that’s a summary document uploaded at  your online shared workspace or an email record, it can keep you from thinking you’ve agreed to something you haven’t — or keep your team from thinking you agreed to something you don’t want. Get agreement before you end the call on who will do this follow up.

Iterations can be an exciting process of seeing your site or document bloom into a perfect representation of your company or your ideas. These ideas can keep them from being a source of stress.

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