Reasons To Become An Agile Web Designer. #5 Fewer Risks
Reduced risk is perhaps the key reason for agile project management going mainstream in IT and development.
It’s taken many years and annual losses running into billions to force top-down, budget focussed organisations like governments to change, but for small web agencies it should be much easier.
We don’t have centuries of culture overturn and thousands of employees to retrain. We just have to rethink and the benefits are not just for our clients.
Less Technical Responsibilities
The traditional web designer focuses on the selling of the end product. But since most of us rely on 3rd party software like WordPress we have lost control and this brings risk to our businesses.
The Agile web designer is mostly able to sidestep this by making their service one that concentrates on the relationship between design and human behaviour.
The software only serves as a way of delivering an ongoing and adaptable data-driven user experience.
The value of the service goes beyond the tech of the day. It can not so easily be undercut by free one click websites or fly-by-night designers reselling software to deflect from a lack of actual value.
Adopting an agile mindset has made me rethink. One of the allures of WordPress was that it allowed me (via plugins) to offer clients things that would have required a full stack developer.
I started to take responsibility for ecommerce, memberships, LMSs and events sites, but soon saw with the commercialization in WordPress, the Gutenberg project and large scale plugin acquisitions that I am not the plugin author’s target customer. I’m caught between client and plugin author with little control.
Of course, there are exceptions.
One is the sponsor of this blog Beaver Builder. Although, they also serve the DIY user they have prioritised the needs of agencies in delivering stability. They are not alone, but I would say most plugin authors aim to capture the larger DIY market with different desires.
My focus has shifted to highlighting the other essentials of web design and marketing such as UX, soft skills, interpreting user data and psychology. It is timeless and my relationships with clients can extend beyond the lifespan of a particular platform.
Less Business Liabilities
Agile web designers bring skills and knowledge to a collaboration with the product owner (the client). They are not selling a product.
This means it is easier to correctly apportion responsibilities over knotty legal issues regarding GDPR and accessibility.
Under GDPR our clients should have already assigned a data controller who is responsible for data beyond what a website collects.
To me, it seems logical for them to make the decisions over what happens with the website and retain full responsibility.
What seems to happen with traditional web designers is they are inadvertently taking on the role of joint data controller without discussion. I see many taking decisions for clients over things like the use of Google Analytics and cookie notifications.
That said, this liability is generally overstated by those with commercial interest. There is a clear warning process that has to be adhered to when it comes to fines.
Accessibility again has levels ,which a client must decide on, and even then there are areas for interpretation. I think the safest thing to do is honestly make clients aware of the discussions and avoid declaring expertise beyond our knowledge.
Less Health Risks
The agile web designer offers a time boxed service. They don’t have the deadlines of the traditional model.
Effectively, if managed well they can flit from one client to another doing continuous stints of work to improve the sites of each.
As the aim is to establish long term trust relationships there’s not the stress of having to convince new people to work within our processes. In fact we work to accommodate each other (like grown-ups!).
In my view, working with clients who see us as a product supplier creates dissatisfaction. There is instability in the work. The pressure of deadlines and the sense you never quite finish to satisfaction start to weigh heavy. It’s of our own making.
This has been the fifth and the last of my reasons to become an agile designer series. I hope it inspired some thoughts of your own.