This morning, a friend and client of mine emailed me regarding the work we’re doing to get his new website built:

I interest myself in how the structure of our site will influence our behavior … As the website design develops, so does my clarity. It’s obvious to me that “site review and evaluation” will be an opportunity for us to reflect on our goals … I mean that the site is, for me, kind of like a biofeedback device that informs me about myself and helps me develop my goals. At least that’s how it feels at this stage in the process.

This is a great reflection on how the actual process of making a website helps to make more concrete the actual project or work that the website is supposed to communicate. This kind of thinking caused a seismic shift in the philosophy of webdesign and web programming a couple of years ago. It’s called “agile design” and I think it’s fascinating.

The basic idea behind agile design is that you minimize the amount of forethought and planning on paper, and instead take advantage of technologies that let you easily update the website once someone has actually clicked through the Real Thing.

Before agile development we said to our clients: “Get it right on paper, or else we’ll bill you astronomical fees for change-orders.” Now we say: “Let’s just get the basic sketch online, play with it, and then keep tweaking things until it feels right.”

This is one of the reasons I build a lot of sites for my clients using WordPress. It means that we can change our minds about lots of things — even the fundamental look and feel — without having to build everything over again from scratch.