A Hybrid Approach to Agile Web Development

One thing we like about the name “Radish Lab” is that it evokes something that is organic, experimental, and always growing and changing. Just like plants that evolve to find the most optimal way toward sunlight, we are always working to improve our processes as we grow stronger and create something beautiful that contributes to the greater good.  

Recently we’ve been reflecting on what is known as the “Agile” method, which is a set of principles programmers consider in regards to assessing development quality, and considering ways that we might best draw upon these practices within our project management style.  We do realize that not all of our clients are going to be as excited or interested in the details of development processes—it might sound pretty geeky—we get it! But we believe it is our thoughtful approach and commitment to genuine quality in our work that sets us apart as an agency (however nerdy we might risk seeming along the way).

Here are just a few examples of agile practices that we’ve been adapting, and the benefits we see for our clients and our outputs of work.  

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Don’t Run in Circles—Run in Cycles!

What we do:

Organizing our development work into regular two-week “sprint cycles” allows for substantial, dedicated time for proper testing procedures and internal code reviews. This, almost more than all of the other changes we have considered, will help to ensure that attention to quality is “built in” and accounted for during the development process. This also gives our developers a chance to review each other’s code. This vital step in the process that not only helps developers themselves to learn new skills and problem solving techniques, but it ensures that developers are holding themselves, first and foremost, accountable for their work.

What’s in it for you:

Developing in well-organized sprint cycles results in greater quality in our production output, with fewer bugs, fewer mistakes, better options for navigating through the uncertain seas of developmental change and much more. Like assuredly ascending terraced levels of a mountain, the rhythm of regular sprints gives us more confidence in what we’ve already done, preparing us to accelerate through project completion.

Versioning (A Formal Affair)

What we do:  

In tandem with our sprint cycles, we also employ formal “versioning” for all web site code. This practice allows us to laser-focus our testing efforts on specific, contained sets of features in an organized fashion, while also allowing us to go forward and backward between versions as needed.

What’s in it for you:

We document and communicate our versioning to clients throughout the process, which provides neatly organized status summaries to make it easier to communicate internal progress updates—a need our clients frequently identify. It’s a win for all of us to approach long-term maintenance work and new project development in these attractive, presentable packages.

First Thing’s First: The Prioritized Backlog

What we do:  

Creating a slightly more formalized development process with sprint cycles might at first seem to present the problem of: How do we respond to new requests if we’re committing to smaller sets of features and longer periods of testing? While there is no avoiding the inevitable backlog, we want you to know we’re not talking about one like that to-do list of home improvement projects that is in a corner somewhere gathering cobwebs. We’re talking about a well-managed backlog that is thoughtfully ordered in terms of priority and with a clear technical strategy, which is a powerful tool to ensure project success.

What’s in it for you:

Okay, this one might sound especially dry! But stay with us, because this is the Agile tactic that you may just love the most. What that means for you is that you need not have thought through all of the odds-and-ends involved with developing an application at the onset. We’ve got you covered! Our expert project management staff will serve as your personal assistants in keeping backlogs organized, and executable.

While these practices may sound like internal concerns, we’re confident their effects will be noticeable in our work in the world. And we’re never going to use someone else’s toolkit right out of the box. Rather, we believe by strategically incorporating specific elements of the agile approach into our workflows, we will be able to better support our client’s unique needs with a consistently confident and reliable technological backing.