Chapter 3. Planning a Dynamic Site

This will inevitably happen to you.

You are sitting at your desk, and the phone rings. When you answer it, the individual, from the Oakbridge Recreation Center, will start a conversation that goes something like this:

"Do you build web sites?"

Your answer is, "Of course," and then you talk about the work you have done for other clients.

"Here's what we need," says the voice on the phone. "We need to rethink our site and are looking at adding a couple of features that cement our relationship with the community. They would include an interactive tour of the facility based on interest. We would also like to streamline our current facility booking procedures and enable people to book sports facilities or meeting rooms online. Finally, we do a lot of community work and want to create something on the site that enables people to meet online...or something like that. Do you do that sort of thing?"

This is typically the start of the process, and a positive answer will result in a client meeting. The project's success or failure is dependent upon what you do next.

In the good old days of the Wild, Wild Web, up to about 1998, the answer was a resounding, "Yes." In those days, the developer met with the client, got a rough idea of what was needed, and gave the client a rough idea of what he or she was going to do. The client, not having a clue what the developer's proposal entailed, inevitably bought in because it sure sounded "cool." At that point, the developer bought the necessary software and spent the next month learning how to do what he or she had just promised the client.

With the rise of dynamic sites and the introduction of the work group and some pretty sophisticated software, the technical and creative demands placed upon web developers have increased. This means the day of the "One-Guy-Does-It-All" shop is a thing of the past. In today's production environment, speed and accuracy are critical. This means projects can only be completed by a team of specialists working with a carefully crafted production and project plan.

The old business adage, "Plan your work and work your plan," is more appropriate than ever. More often than not, that means the production cycle doesn't start with pixels lighting up on a screen. It starts with a sheet of paper.