Perhaps the most important workflow any of us encounter is the one least talked about: That is, the flow of, well, our work. Not of our content through a CMS, but of the process of building that CMS in the first place. Or, for that matter, any web project.
Many electrons have been spilled extolling the merits of Agile development and the evils of Waterfall development, the two popular workflow archetypes. The real world, as ever, is not that simple. Especially when we speak of consulting projects rather than in-house teams, pure Agile is rarely acceptable; it lacks long-term predictability (by design). And good design (both visual and technical) requires some level of up-front gestalt planning.
Every project is different, but what does an ideal project workflow look like? And how can we try to approach that ideal more readily?
There is an old British military adage: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Up-front planning of a project is crucially important, especially when some stakeholder asks the all important question: “So will we be able to do it within budget and/or timeline?”
Good planning is how you are able to answer that question.
More important, though, that planning phase (often called “discovery”) is where the architecture of the project is defined. That architecture encompasses three different, closely-related areas: Content Strategy, Design, and Architecture.
Content strategy is one of those fields that has only recently received a name, but has been around as long as good websites have existed. It can be thought of as the “architecture of information” (not to be confused with information architecture, which is a subset of content strategy), or perhaps design of information. Content strategy is concerned with questions such as: