HighEdWeb Assocation October 10-13, 2010

Session Details


Rapid Iterative Design: A Minimalist Approach to Requirements Gathering and Interface Design

MMP5 Marketing, Management, and Professional Development Track

Pavillion Ballroom, 4th Floor


A priority for developers practicing Agile software development is to re-evaluate the role of documentation in the software development lifecycle. On many traditional software development projects, the outcome of the analysis and design phases is a lengthy technical specifications document which is turned over to the developers with the charge, “build this.” In reality, adhering to “the plan” rarely happens, because life is not static--the plan changes as new information is revealed. Hence, Agile developers place a lot of value on continuous face-to-face communication with the customer, iterative development, and minimalist documentation. We seek lightweight development techniques, so that we spend the bulk of our time on writing software, not writing documents. This presentation will detail how our team has combined four simple techniques—1) task-based scenarios, 2) personas, 3) user stories and 4) paper prototyping--into an Agile approach for gathering requirements and designing interfaces for custom applications. The primary advantage of this approach is that it is very light-weight: functional requirements can be generated very quickly, so that coding can begin earlier in the project. The deliverables are essentially stacks of sticky notes and hand-drawn sketches of interfaces. That’s it! It may not be appropriate for the development of campus-wide ERP systems, but in our experience, it has worked well for our small- to medium-sized Web applications.


Beth Snapp
Team Lead, Web and Data Solutions, Ohio State University, Arts and Sciences

Beth Snapp is the Team Lead for Web and Data Solutions in the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University. Her team supports about 200 websites, writes custom software, and provides data analysis and reporting services for Arts and Sciences. The flagship products of the team are two university-wide applications: University Notes and Media Manager. The current priority of the team is to move the Arts and Sciences website portfolio to the Drupal open source content management system, as well as to support the College's transition from quarters to semesters. Beth earned a BS and BA from Otterbein College and an MA in sociology from the University of Memphis where she studied at the Center for Research on Women. She is a certified Scrum Master.