Adweek published a great article this week by Benjamin Palmer of the Barbarian Group. It it, he challenges the ad industry to stop being scared, embarrassed and confused by “Web 2.0″ and to start exploiting crowd-sourced creativity from within as well as radically new ways of working together. He urges both advertising creative and television commissioning people to learn from the way ideas are generated and developed in a Web 2.0 world.
Web 2.0 is more than just user-generated content. It is, in short, rich media applications (AJAX), folksonomies (like tags), new development approaches (“fail fast, fail cheap” and agile development), interoperability (RSS) and, yes, user-generated content. And since this is also the world of publishing 2.0, you should totally look up those terms on Wikipedia.
It’s definitely our experience over the past 18 months that there are two types of web project:
- The *really* successful ones: the ones that do more with less, where you achieve far more than you should be able to with relatively few people against all the odds; always run more like start-ups even when the client is a large media business; they involve much shorter project lifecycles, smaller teams of more focussed people, pragmatism; the budgets are much smaller; the development process is very agile; strategy is emergent rather than being a straitjacket and all the stakeholders including representative users are involved and contribute throughout.
- The ones that do okay but leave everyone (including users) feeling that something is missing: they persist in going for the ‘big bang’ launch; they can’t stop themselves adding features and requirements in the misconception that ‘more is better’; they drag on and on; they go way over budget, which usually means loads of the cool stuff gets the chop and they end up launching something that’s already out of date; they are always very much more expensive than the successful ones, demonstrating that success is not a function of budget; they usually use waterfall processes; the idea-making is concentrated in the hands of relatively few who typically move on to another project during the development.
Digital is the front line in working smarter. It’s the disruptive factor that gives start-ups an edge, but it’s not just for start-ups. When Isaac and I launched My.Telegraph with James and Interesource last year we made the conscious decision to act like a start-up, but with an established big media client. The Telegraph’s tech journalist Shane Richmond stopped being a client and joined our project team. We worked very rapidly and very openly. Daily SCRUMs, sprints, real-time decision-making, tiny team, limited budget, severe time-boxing, mutating requirements/priorities, everyone wearing several hats, involving target users early and testing and iterating throughout. It was exhausting but exhilarating, and it worked better than any project. I’m biased obviously, but I think that the user experience and site really benefited from this approach. Shane was also able to blog about the whole project, turning the design and development process inside out and building an audience, getting the audience involved and creating a group of beta testers in the process. Most importantly we were able to build a very successful niche social networking service from scratch and deliver it to live within 17 working days – as Shane explains here.