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Reflections on Going From Agile to Insane Software Development : Page 2

Alex Genadinik applied his development suggestions on a new group hiking site he launched and can now share his findings.


6) Saying No To Good Ideas

Over the short time of working on the site, I have already talked to many people who have made great suggestions about what I should do with the site.  I try my best to create all the features people suggest and request, but there is always a balance of improving current features vs. making the existing features more stable.  Plus, if I really did everything people asked for, I'd have a feature list a mile long that would take too long to complete, and eat up too many of my already too-few resources.  Not to mention that many site features like privacy are conflicting.  For example, generally, web projects thrive when they are free and open (think Twitter or Open Source community).  At the same time, people need their privacy which necessitates at least some degree of restriction (Think early Facebook appeal, or strict control imposed by Apple).  The balance is difficult and it is impossible to please everyone.

7) No Heavy Languages

In an earlier article I made the point that Java was a language that is becoming less popular and that other, newer languages are gaining more and more traction. Many Devx readers pointed out the many tools that make Java competitive and still superior to the newer languages.  I probably over-assumed in my original assessment.  My question to the DevX community is: With Oracle now owning Java, what is the future of the language?  And is it risky to start new code bases on Java because of the uncertainty of where Oracle will take this language in the future?

8) User Experience Over User Interface

I think I got things all wrong on this one as I over-simplified what goes into the overall look, feel and navigation of the product.  There isn't just the balance of a site being pretty vs. high level of usability.  Here are just some of the many factors a modern site has to take into consideration:

    * Navigation clarity and usability (UX).
    * Nice, pleasant and professional design.
    * SEO friendliness.
    * Copy that is written for humans instead of search engines, but helps with SEO as well.
    * Conversion (ad clicks, user sign-ups, product sales, user retention, engagement)

Most sites do not get all of these aspects balanced well.  In my site's case, I focused too much on the SEO side, and am catching up on the design, navigation and clarity side.

9) Real Gain From Prototyping

So in the end, what was my gain from the rapid prototyping?  The short answer is that a feature release can take as little as 4 hours from concept to live realease.  Consider this in light of how a mid-size company would go about releasing features.  First, there would be market research and meetings.  Then a product plan would be created.  Then the necessary features would be given to the design team and the engineering team.  The engineering team would operate on about a weekly release schedule. 

In total, the mid-size company product release cycle from concept to product release would be considered good if it took under 3 or 4 weeks.  In a large company,it may be as long as 3-6 months.  In my case, in one instance, I was chatting with a site over email and before my exchange with him ended, I was able to point him to the live feature that he wanted, which was already on the site.  I used breaks in our conversation to code the feature and quickly released it to pleasantly surprise him.

Needless to say, the person asking for the feature was quite impressed. My only caveat was that I had to warn him that I had just made this feature as I was talking to him so it may be a bit buggy initially.

10) Reader Experiences

What are some of your experiences developing new sites?  Did you take some of my approaches?  Did they work for you?  Did you do something else that worked better?  Email me and let me know.

Alex Genadinik is the founder of San Francisco Hiking Community and a Startup Consultancy. Please say hello and continue the conversation on this topic on Twitter @genadinik
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