in Process

Web Practices and Decentralized Companies

Developing Best Practices for Distributed Networks of Sites: Heuristics, Design, and Politics (PDF) by Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path and Carolyn Gibson Smith of PBS sets a great example of improving web design and encouraging certain practices across a large, decentralized organization. One particular aspect I like is that by distributing templates and building examples they offer the affiliates carrots rather than attempt a futile effort of waving sticks, which often fall under the auspices of governance or compliance in contemporary corporate environments. Even when there is top-down authority to enforce these standards, it’s rarely done happily.

The process used heuristic analysis, stakeholder interviews, and UCD to…

  • Examine the issues affiliates faced
  • Find internal best practices
  • Build prototype using best practices
  • Test prototype

They delivered

  • Printed best practices report
  • Working prototype
  • Templates and code
  • Guide for conducting usability tests
  • Case studies
  • System-wide report card

We’ve heard from Web teams that they are using the recommendations not only to build their sites, but as justification for funding. The report is being used as ammunition for designers and developers as they seek to convince their internal stakeholders of the value of a strong Web presence.