Recover Your Password

​Understanding the differences between Waterfall and Agile App/Web Development

Whether you're developing a website or an app, you always start with a concept. What should the website be about? What is its major goal? What problems does it solve for your audience? But after considering these major theoretical questions, it's time for the actual development - and that's where approaches start to differ. It's a battle of waterfall vs. agile, and only one of them can win.

The Traditional (Waterfall) Approach to Development

Traditionally, conception is the beginning of a step-by-step process. Imagine a waterfall: water can only fall one bit at a time, and has to hit the stones high up in the process before it gets closer to the bottom. After the concept comes an analysis of the current situation, followed by the actual design, which is then coded. When everything is done, it's time to test the website or app before it gets officially released to your audience.

Running into Problems

Unfortunately, the waterfall method of development comes with some serious issues. Most times, you will develop your app or website with a specific timeline and budget in mind. But what if you run out of either? What if the product needs to be launched in a week, and you haven't even gotten to the testing phase yet? If you've already begun promoting the release, the logical response is to skip the testing phase either partially or entirely. That, of course, can lead to serious problems and an unfinished product.

Waterfall is all about the upfront plan however, the above scenario can happen no matter how well-planned the project was. In theory, the waterfall method sounds perfect for allocating a certain amount of time for each step. Reality, however, looks quite different. While in theory it is nice to think that before a project begins you will be able to account for every scenario and use of the application the reality is you often create as you go and the scope begins to creep or the developers make assumptions based on written requirements. While the code amy fulfill a written requirement it may not be what the client envisioned and they won’t have any input until the end so change orders start to fly, budgets start to grow. You won't know if you've produced a good product (website or app) until the very end, when you have started to test it. As a result, you may spend much more time on the coding or design than you intended, leaving less time for testing than you actually need.

Of course, even if everything works out beautifully within your schedule and you allocate an even 25 percent of your time to testing, you may need more. You never know what issues pop up during the testing stage that you had no idea about. But if you discover a bug that happened early on, it may affect how the entire code was written. By strictly adhering to the inflexibility of a step-by-step process, you're suddenly running out of options.

The Agile Alternative

Fortunately, the waterfall method isn't the only way to develop a website or an app. All of the situations we described above can be fixed with an alternative approach, and its strength is in its name: agile development. Instead of looking at the analysis, design, coding and testing steps in succession, they all occur at once. The development is still split up into various stages. But these stages are separated not by type of work, but individual modules, completed in "sprints."

That, in turn, allows for a number of advantages. First, it greatly decreases the possibility of finding a mistake too late to do much about it. Testing is the final step for each sprint, allowing developers plenty of time to catch up and course correct before moving on.

Second, client input becomes more important. In waterfall development, you as a client will only be able to give you input in the beginning stages; after that, you essentially hand over the project to the developer and wait. Agile development encourages a collaborative approach: clients add feedback for each module, allowing the final website or app to move closer to their vision. Finally, choosing an agile method allows the developer to plan the project's timeline more easily, leading to a greater possibility that your website or app will be finished - even with added changes - within its intended timeline.

In short, agile development is the perfect solution if you're look for a new website or app in the near future. And if you are interested in finding out more, don't hesitate to contact us! We'll be happy to talk to you about the different processes and how agile development can benefit your business.

Posted By Dwayne McGowan | 3/16/2015 9:27:12 AM