The Web Project Guide Podcast: Episode 15: Determine System Requirements (w/ Joe Kepley)

It’s The Web Project Guide Podcast, and we made you a new episode.

The web is a medium of ideas. Design, content, and the organization of all of it — it’s ideas. There’s no real physical representation: it’s just a bunch of concepts and dreams, kind of.

The closest we can get to manifestation is through code — through the implementation of ideas as visual and interactive pages on a website. So there’s a translation point — just as authors struggle to find words to explain emotions and actions, developers must decode design. Or, code design, I guess.

This is where the art of determining system requirements comes in. How do you create something in a way that’s sustainable? How do you balance development ease with the often contradictory editorial ease?

This month, we’re talking to Joe Kepley — founder at Blend Interactive and someone who often interprets and translates the work we do discovery and design and turns it into something than can be coded. Something real — or, at least, as “real” as a website can get.

From our interview:


…I think it’s really common at the wireframing stage to just kind of draw a box and say, well, this box looks cool here, and it’s got this button in it because that feels right. But then I think a lot of folks will not have a plan of what that button does. Or just say things like, “Well, this is going to list our top trending topics on our website.” But then people don’t think through, okay, well how are we going to understand what the top trending topics are? Is that what people are searching? Is that what our editorial team wants to highlight?

So I think there’s a danger, particularly if you just start with the wireframe side and don’t have some of that framework of what are we really trying to accomplish, and you just start drawing pictures, you can draw some very nice looking pictures that, A, may be difficult to implement, and B, may be things that when you sit down and align with what your goals are don’t really make sense to implement. So you can spend a lot of time doing hard work that doesn’t benefit you.


Tony Byrne called that seduction by wireframe.


Yeah, yeah. And I think we used to talk about, Deane, software that demos well but doesn’t particularly work well, I think is really common. It’s very easy to make something look good in a sales demo because it does something cool. But what you really need to do is sit down and think about how your organization needs to use the software. And I think you guys will probably talk about that when you get to CMS selection.

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