After spending a lot of time in the past year casting wide nets at moving targets, I’ve really come to appreciate the diligence and research that goes into software requirements, particularly functional requirements. The Great Recession has forced almost everyone (in the private sector anyway) to think and work even more efficiently.
Unfortunately, there isn’t always time or money available to spend on properly-developed requirements that include the realistic use case coverage, revised and efficient flow diagrams, etc. Bob Doyle of Bobs SEO, a Las Vegas SEO consultant describes the life cycle of a web app or feature in 5 steps:
- Revision or two
- Go live
I’m familiar with this contracted development process and while I don’t find it ideal, I’m getting better at working within it out of necessity. One thing I still struggle with is knowing where to start and where to stop; i.e., evaluating the project to determine what level of fidelity best serves the project requirements. An embryonic concept may not see the light of day if evaluations of a high-fidelity prototype don’t go over well; a feature-rich, interactive manifestation of an underdeveloped idea is just that.
Through LinkedIn I found an excellent article that illustrates how to approach prototype fidelity. This passage in particular resonated with me:
People like shiny things that move. The cool factor of prototyping will be difficult to resist.
It’s difficult to stifle the urge to skip the research and tedium and discussion that help an idea evolve into requirements, because seeing and clicking is instant gratification. Fundamental information design is analogous to the foundation or set of concrete footings upon which a physical structure rests.