Analysis of Current Web Application Design Methodologies: Quality Products in Web-Time

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Buda, Jonathon M. (Jon)
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As the Internet and the World Wide Web have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, so has the complexity of Web applications and the expectation of user-friendly interfaces increased. Developers must scramble to deliver quality, usable systems in a fraction of the time that is provided to standard systems software development. However, as Web applications grow increasingly complex, more development time is needed than is allotted, requiring programmers to eliminate certain important portions of a standard design process such as user-requirements and development documents, usability testing, code testing, code documentation, and integration testing. Web projects often miss deadlines, exceed set budgets, require numerous upgrades to fix glitches, and overall do not meet the intended goals. The absence of a solid design methodology for Web applications development to organize a project is a leading reason why the setbacks occur. Several design methodologies do exist for Web applications development, however most development teams are not aware of these or think them to be too time consuming and constricting. The methodologies are designed with Web development in mind and aim to produce quality Web applications that are released on time with the correct requirements and with a highly intuitive user-interface. The most popular options are Extreme Programming, Site maps and Storyboards, User-centered design, and Usage-centered design. Each design process contains its own strengths to help programmers produce quality products. Extreme Programming is a lightweight, agile design process for small teams that focuses on face-to-face communication between developers rather than through documents. An emphasis is put on producing code quickly, but testing often to catch errors. Site maps and Storyboards are used as visual representations of how a Web application will function. The functionality is finalized through numerous sketches and the production of code can commence. This approach aims to get the user requirements and interface correct before coding begins. A User-centered design process focuses on real-life problems that the user wishes to complete with the product. Extensive research into user-requirements and user-interfaces is completed in user-centered design. The Usage-centered design approach focuses on functionality and creating code that successfully completes tasks requested by the user. With this methodology, the usability and user-interface will evolve naturally out of the functionality.
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