I’ve worked on a lot of web teams. I’ve written and edited web content, collaborated with designers and developers on new sites and been responsible for the management of existing sites in government and nonprofit organizations.
Every web team has its own principles, even if they’re unwritten. A combination of culture and procedure, these are the guides that team members follow when it comes to web development.
For example, when I was at AARP, we had a rule that we wouldn’t launch a new site on a Friday. Why? Because the team wanted to get out of the office on a Friday. They wanted happy hour, not to proof the site. Mistakes would be made and they would stay up all weekend long, until someone noticed the error on Monday. Therefore, no site launches on a Friday.
If you’re lucky, everyone agrees to the same principles. The web site manager supports the web designer when she says “no” to the client who wants a giant flashing red banner on the home page. And to launch it on a Friday without testing.
At the recent WordPressDC meetup. Mark Wahl, Technical Director at Jake Group, shared his Seven Principles for a Web Team.
It’s about choices, according to Mark. WordPress is infinitely flexible and, as a small firm, there’s a wide variety of projects and clients to consider. What workflow should you follow? How are projects managed? And, most importantly, how do you keep the web development team sane? No one likes chaos, especially web developers. They want achievable deadlines and established processes rather than churn and instability.
The answer is to follow a set of principles. Discover the principles that guide your team. Write them down. This clarity reduces stress for everyone by eliminating unwelcome surprises, like the cry of a manager, “We need to launch the site on a Friday! Rules be damned!”
Some (bad) managers may object. Rules are limiting, after all. But, as Mark wrote:
Principles make our approach clear to the entire team, allowing all to participate and contribute.
A set of clear and concise principles let team members to make decisions, confident that they’re following the “rules of the road.” Not only is this the most efficient way to manage a team, it’s also the most sustainable. Chaos is a tiresome and burns out developers and content creators.
While a rule like “don’t launch a site on Friday” may seem silly, a set of principles keeps everyone on the web team happy, engaged and sane.