Four agile principles for your next project.

In the pharmaceutical industry, speed to market is critical – especially when life-saving drugs are at the center of an ambitious clinical trial. So it should come as no surprise that when we decided to redesign the website for Praxis, our patient recruitment division, we followed a process that forced us to be as efficient as possible.

When it comes to agile development or agile marketing, I do believe that there are different degrees of it and many find ways to adapt it to fit business needs. However, there are some core guiding principles, without which you are not really doing agile marketing at all. Here’s how agile can be applied to a website project and work effectively – even on one as involved as our new Praxis site.

User first.
Focus on being user-centric. In developing your vision for the site, always answer the following question throughout its development: “What matters the most to a user coming to our website?” To accomplish this, rely on available research, data, and direct user insights, development of user stories, and overall scope. Build a website based on the needs of those who will discover and frequent your site, not what you think a website should do or look like.

Cross-functional team.
Put together a lean project team that includes individuals representing design, content, and development, and then encourage them to trek together throughout the lifecycle of the project by having stand up meetings, use collaborative project management tools, and simply have a conversation when they need answers. This allows the team to stay in constant touch and be an active part of the conversations about why certain things are being done a certain way. It helps to alleviate two things: potential misunderstanding of what needed to be done as well as a slowed-down process due to the need for extensive documentation.

Empower the team to make decisions as the project progresses. This takes away the need for extensive, top-heavy review processes.

Accountability is the key to success. Moreover, the returns of having people who are accountable and who work within an agile process have always been much higher, in my opinion, compared to a traditional project approach. Throughout our redesign of the Praxis site, we stressed the importance of accountability – and people took it to heart. They made sure that they met their due dates on their individual tasks, worked together with the project manager to quickly overcome obstacles, and never missed a standup meeting.

While there are many more principles that govern an agile process, those outlined above are perhaps the most critical and can be applied to many other types of projects outside of websites.

If you’re still skeptical of the value of agile, consider that we built a whole website on a content management system, had a photoshoot, integrated video, and much more on a timeline that many thought was impossible. But we pulled it off. So we’re not just preaching, we’re practicing. Check it out for yourself: