CHALLENGES THAT A CLIENT AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION FACE WHILE BUILDING A UI CENTRIC WEBSITE

We, in the digital world, have been seeing a drastic change in the field of digital environment over the past 15 years back.  Every organization has an online presence nowadays, and must be vigilant in the constantly evolving online environment and leverage the opportunity to showcase who they are, what they do and how they do, their capabilities, and success stories.  Depending on the type of business an organization deals with, the target audiences differ. To cater the needs and likes of those target audience, and to stand apart from their competitors, different organizations adapt different methods and one such strategy is to build a User Experience which is informative and user friendly.

As a project manager, I have seen different kinds of requests coming in to build websites and more and more often the focus of these requests is User Interface centric design and development.  Here the client focuses primarily on the look and feel of the website compared to other elements.  It doesn’t mean that the contents and other functionalities take a back seat.  It is just that the User Interface and User Experience elements in the website play a more integral role in the development and design of the site.

While it may seem that site development building is simple, UI/UX centric websites require a slightly different approach. Most clients will feel that they have enough data to start the development process, and define the project timeline, but the reality is only a limited number of clients have a perfect vision of what they actually want. The majority of clients have about 60% of the necessary requirements, the remaining 40% need to be defined during the requirements gathering, design phase, development phase, UAT or at times even post completion of the website.

There are obvious reasons why these changes are given by the client.  The client, initially, will view the project from the organization’s perspective even though they intend to view it from an end user’s perspective.  Later, during development, when the client is able to interact with the site they usually are able to begin seeing it from the point of view of the user.  Playing the role of the end user, they begin to realize that the User Experience is not satisfactory based on the initial requirements that they have provided and hence they change the requirements.

With regards to the UI centric website, the user experience can be achieved only when the page is complete; anything prior to that is mere imagination.  When the output is not per the client’s imagination/vision, they want to change the same and hence the changes are introduced until they see what they originally envisioned or what they think the users might like.  While these items are implemented there is a significant challenge that both the parties involved, the client and the development organization, face.

Timeline changes are of particular concern as upstream changes in deadlines affect everything downstream.  The timeline initially provided by the DO is based on the initial requirements but few clients realize changes that they request will affect the timeline as a whole. So, the client should be prepared for the change in date of completion or any possible trade-offs, such as releasing the website in multiple phases.  Also, from the perspective of the DO, the changes increase the timeline, resource utilization and in turn the money spent.  Hence, it can forecast the same and should be ready to accommodate the changes while the client should understand the effort and time involved; support the DO and enable them to complete the changes prescribed.

One of the internal challenges that the DO faces while developing a UI centric website is how the website looks in different browsers and the several versions of those browsers.  While responsive design is a concept that has been widely followed and implemented in the last two years, it is highly unlikely to get the responsiveness in the older versions of any browsers.  It is the primary duty of a DO to educate the client about concepts like this and also the client’s responsibility to act and support the DO accordingly.

Having said about all those discussed above, when there is transparency, understanding, mutual respect and business maturity, the thought of bringing a UI centric website LIVE should be a cake walk for the DO and the client.

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