Transparency in Web Development

Cornell University’s Web Communications Team kept a blog about their site development, which is an interesting exposition of “why decisions are made a certain way”. It’s an interesting read, for those of you who are interested in seeing how the production process goes from the PM’s perspective.

A lot of missteps can occur early in the project cycle when the client is (1) misunderstood by the developers or (2) vague about their goals. This leads to a lot of “the client doesn’t know what they want” grousing by the literal-minded developers, who would prefer to get everything handed to them as a technical spec. On the client’s side, they’re confronted by what seems to be a passive-aggressive wall of defiance, because developers don’t know how to translate other people’s concepts into technical implementation. Hence the need for Project Managers who are fluent in both clientspeak (itself with many dialects) and developerspeak. I like how this blog not only illuminates the decision making process in a large organization, but also includes the raw, unfiltered reactions from people outside the process. It’s a neat microcosm of the media development process, from the social interaction perspective.

On a side note, using a multiple-blog system as a way to facilitate client communication is itself an interesting idea. I’ve used intranets in this way in the past, laboriously updating HTML manually. It took hours, but the result was that I had a pretty good sense of project continuity. I’m not so sure that clients found it useful on a day-to-day basis, but perhaps it was reassuring. My big problem is I write too much, and it’s tough to read on the screen. I’ll have to think about this a bit more.

Cornell Update spotted on Digital Media Minute via Full as a Goog.