What is Agile Web Development?

Agile is one of the most commonly used web project management methodologies today. A survey shows that more than half of the 601 respondents now use Agile versus traditional approaches, such as Waterfall.

If you have heard of Agile before, then you might want to know how it can help you achieve your web development goals. Whether you’re a developer who wants to learn different web project management methodologies or an entrepreneur who wants to know how to work with developers who use Agile, this post will cover the basic information you need to learn about it. These include what is Agile, what are its core values and guiding principles, how does it work, and what are its pros and cons.

What is Agile Web Development?

Agile is an umbrella term for different software development methodologies that use “sprints”, or short development cycles, to provide customers with the best product through continuous feedback, iteration, and collaboration. These include:

  • Scrum
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Kanban
  • Lean
  • Adaptive Software Development
  • Crystal
  • Feature-Driven Development
  • Rapid Application Development
  • Dynamic System Development Model
  • Disciplined Agile Delivery
  • Agile Unified Process
  • Scrumban

The goal of Agile is to increase productivity in software development. It involves dividing a project into several phases. Each phase can be completed, tested, modified, and launched one by one instead of waiting until the entire project is finished and rolling it out at one go.

History of Agile

Agile traces its roots as early as 1957, when incremental software development approaches were the norm. It was only discussed in depth in the 1970s by William Royce, who conducted a study on the development of large-scale software systems.

Three decades later, 17 software developers created the Agile Manifesto. It presents the four core values and 12 principles of Agile, as well as its benefits as an efficient and people-centred approach to software development.

What are the Core Values of Agile?

These four core values serve as the foundation of Agile.

1. Individuals and interactions over tools and processes.

Agile values people more than tools or processes. The people behind the project must answer to all of the needs and changes as they arise, and ultimately drive the development process, not the other way around.

2. Working software over comprehensive documentation.

Time is of the essence. Developers shouldn’t be tied down documenting each technical specification, plan, test, or approval. Agile provides them with a streamlined process to focus on what they really need to complete the project.

3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

While negotiating the contract and client requirements is important, getting them involved during the web development process often leads to better results. When a customer participates actively in meetings or periodic demos, they can easily communicate their needs. Hence, they will more likely end up satisfied with the product.

4. Responding to change over following a plan.

Change was often regarded as an overhead cost so developers wanted to avoid it. But based on the Agile Manifesto, change like new programming languages or technologies can be a valuable tool for creating excellent products. Developers are encouraged to respond urgently to these changes, as well as to those that are raised by their customers, users, and the market.

What are the 12 Principles of Agile?

These principles guide web developers who are currently adopting pure agile project management methodology or leaning towards it so they can increase their chances of being successful in their web development projects.

  1. Customer satisfaction is a top priority, and this can be achieved through early and continuous product delivery. Customers are more satisfied when they get a functional product after each phase is completed, rather than waiting until the entire project is done.
  2. Welcome changes and feedback from the client throughout the web development process. This will help the developers adapt quickly and implement these changes, which will ultimately help their clients gain a competitive advantage.
  3. Ensure regular delivery of working product(s) or software.
  4. Collaborate with stakeholders or customers throughout the web development process.
  5. Motivate, trust, and support all of the people involved in the project to keep them inspired and happy.
  6. Onsite meetings are highly encouraged, as they help facilitate better communication between you and the stakeholders, which can yield more favourable results.
  7. A product that is 100% functional is the ultimate measure of progress.
  8. Use agile processes to ensure a maintainable and consistent development pace at which developers can deliver the final product as promised.
  9. Enhance agility and pay close attention to the design and technical detail of the website to spot any areas for improvement and then make the necessary changes.
  10. Keep things simple. Focus on what needs to get done for now.
  11. Organise the team in a way that allows everyone to stay motivated, make decisions, communicate, and share ideas constantly to create quality products.
  12. Hold regular meetings to reflect on how to become more productive.

How Does Agile Web Development Work?

Agile puts a lot of importance on customer satisfaction. Change is always welcome throughout the web development process. This is why Agile uses sprints, which is a time allotment for a set of specific tasks and milestones defined by the customer.

Since customers play a major role in the process, they must be ready to put in the time and effort to assess and review each development before the team can move on to the next step. For instance, they can test the website before launch or release a beta version to collect user feedback. Developers will then take the user feedback in mind when making the necessary changes to the website. Ongoing maintenance is also just as important.

Read more: What is User Testing in Web Design?

Overall, Agile is a suitable approach for customers who want as much presence and control as possible in a web development project. It is also ideal for industries operating in a fast-paced environment, such as IT, telecommunications, and banking. These industries are dependent on flexibility, speed, and productivity to keep up with the rapid pace and changing demands of their clients. Because these customers work with the web developers from start to finish, their project can be completed in a shorter span of time.

What are the Pros of Agile?

  • Less tedious and time-consuming approach to web development
  • Able to maximise the available resources efficiently, reducing waste and energy
  • Increased flexibility to accept changes
  • Frequent collaboration and feedback
  • Increased project success through people-centred efforts and simple processes
  • Customers have more control over the project

What are the Cons of Agile?

Agile may not be the right methodology for:

  • Customers who don’t have a well-defined set of goals and requirements
  • Companies with rigid web development processes
  • Developers who don’t perform well under tight deadlines

Agility Matters

Web development consists of several phases where constant communication between the customer and developer is of utmost priority. Should the need to change some features arise, the developers and the methodology they use must be flexible enough to accommodate those changes without causing significant delays in the process.

However, if customer feedback and requests came after the entire project had been finished, the developers would have to redo everything just to modify it accordingly. Thus, delays can be expected.

Agile eliminates this potential problem as it divides a web project into several phases that can be completed one by one. It also uses sprints to speed up the development process. Customers are given as much control over the project as the developers themselves. This means any changes they wish to apply can be instantly communicated and implemented, saving everyone time and money.