How to Avoid the Risk of Unclear Requirements in Offshore Web Development Projects

It is common in IT industry to hear complaints from clients about the poor quality of the solutions or about receiving unwanted solutions that do not match with their requirements. However, the reality is that most of the outsourced projects fall short of their purpose not because of the inferior capabilities, but because the project requirements were not properly understood by the development company.

Unclear requirements have been one of most prominent reasons for inferior solutions in offshore web development model. Poorly defined requirements on the part of the clients are usually the case in failed projects. How can you expect to obtain proper solutions when you can’t even define your requirements? This usually happens when the client is running out of time and wants very quick solutions. They usually skip the proper requirement gathering and analysis part or just skim through the documentation of project requirements in order to get quick solutions. However, this is a perfect recipe for complete disaster.

This does not means that you have to define the specifications in overly detailed manner for even mediocre projects, but it means that you can’t expect an effective solution from a one page project concept. The clearer the project specifications are defined since the beginning, the easier it would be for project managers and developers to understand your requirements and work accordingly.
Now the question here is how you can avoid the risk of unclear requirements in offshore web development projects. Mentioned below are some tips that will help you in doing so:

Giving Some Extra Time To The Requirements Gathering Phase: When you outsource web development projects, make sure that the project manager from the development firm interviews some potential users and finds out the desired features and functionalities for the new software. The software would be most probably used by your employees therefore the project manager should try to understand your business requirements, the user interfaces that are required and the high level requirements of the completed system. It is very important that the manager makes a proper documentation of all the requirements along with any milestones that may be helpful in determining the performance. Further, also make sure that he documents the number of users that are expected to be using the software and exactly how they will be using it.

Requirement Analysis: Once the requirements are gathered it is time to analyze these requirements to determine the feasibility of the software. It is very important to make sure whether the project is even feasible or not before you start working on it. The web development company also needs to determine the acceptability of the proposed solution and the ability to implement it.

Requirement Inspection: In this section, the web development company needs to review the requirements that are proposed by the clients and try to identify any ambiguities or discrepancies in the requirements. Further, they should also determine plan for handling any errors or issues that may arise during the development of the project.

Clients should make sure that their requirements are clear to them and to the web development company when they outsource web development requirements to offshore vendors. As you are not physically available to the vendor therefore it is required that you make most effective use of latest communication and data sharing technologies to provide clear requirements to the development team.

Must-Have Chrome Extensions For Every Web Developer

Even though Google Chrome has only been on the scene for a few years, it has captured the attention of many in the web development industry, and for good reason. The web browser is lightening fast (as proven by its quick overtake of Internet Explorer as one of the most popular browsers) and has new extensions added daily. And here are the must-have extensions for any developer hoping to utilize Google Chrome at its full potential:

Awesome Screenshot

This extension allows a web developer to take a snapshot of an entire web page or just a part of it. You can then circle or underline relevant sections, blur out anything that is irrelevant and make comments on the page. You can also save the image or upload one, making sharing that much easier.

Chrome Sniffer

This extension allows a developer to check the framework of any website that they happen to be browsing. It will locate and display any content management system (CMS) or JavaScript library that is attached to that site.

Cloud Save

As a web developer, you will be used to working on the internet – but do you currently save any important files that you’re working with online? This extension allows you to save files from any website to a services that is supported by ‘The Cloud’, such as Amazon Cloud Drive.

Drag2Up

This extension makes it much easier for a developer to use the file attachment system. All you have to do is drag the file you want to attach from your computer onto the input field, instead of clicking through a stack of windows.

HTML Instant

This extension allows web developers to work in real time HTML. In the split screen, you will type your code into the left hand side and see the results straight away on the right.

MeasureIt!

This extension is essentially a ruler that a developer can use to find the dimensions of any element on a given web page.

PlainClothes

This extension is highly useful for web developers, as it allows them to see the ‘bare bones’ of a website. This can make it easier to see mistakes in design and to see why everything works much better when it is more simple.

Web Developer

This extension is a must have for any developer, as it allows them to view and edit CSS, display image file sizes and clear session cookies all with the click of a button.

After downloading these handy web developer extensions for Google Chrome, you will be set for making websites for the browser that much more accessible and user-friendly.

Top 8 Firefox Add-Ons for Web Development

As a web developer, you can never have enough tools to help make web development faster and more efficient. Mozilla’s Firefox web browser has a feature called add-ons (similar to extensions or plugins), which add extra features to the browser. Note: Not all add-ons are available for all OS platforms. The add-ons discussed here are compatible with Firefox 11, OS X Lion 10.7.3.

Firefox 11 by default already has very impressive tools for web development. It includes (descriptions from the Mozilla website):

  • Web Console – Lets you see logging messages from your JavaScript code, JavaScript and CSS errors and network activity. Search and filter to find just the events you need to look at. Plus, you can directly interact with and explore your page via JavaScript.
  • Page Inspector – Peek right into the styling of any Web page by visually selecting the page element that you’re interested in.
  • Scratchpad – Scratchpad lets you write JavaScript code that can interact directly with the contents of a Web page.

With these powerful tools already included, there are actually even more features you can add to Firefox for even more power. Here are my favorite add-ons specifically used for web development:

  1. Web Developer 1.1.9 – Also known as the Web Developer Toolbar (WDT), this add-on installs various web developer tools to the browser. It will allow you to quickly disable any JavaScript, CSS or image files on website. The toolbar also gives you easy access to any cookies, meta tag information, and forms on the web page you are viewing. One of my favorite features is the ability to auto fill forms for form testing. The “name” of the form element will be used as the form value, so when testing a form with many fields, this feature will save you plenty of time. The truth is, the WDT has so many different features, I haven’t been able to use them all yet!
  2. Firebug 1.9.1 – Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page. It’s like the built in Web Console and Page Inspecter but with more features. Some developers will debate on which is better, WDT or Firebug. From my experience, WDT is more suited for front end designers that do a lot of CSS coding and Firebug is better for JavaScript/AJAX debugging and web development. I say use them both.
  3. MeasureIt 0.4.10 – Draw a ruler across any webpage to check the width, height, or alignment of page elements in pixels. This ruler is one of the handiest add-ons I’ve used.
  4. Firesizer 1.7 – Allows you to resize the window to specific dimensions. This add-on shows the dimensions of the current browser window in pixels.
  5. HTML Validator 0.9.5.2 – Adds HTML Validation to the View Page Source of the browser. The add-on is based on Tidy and OpenSP, both algorithms that were originally developed by the Web Consortium W3C. The details of the errors are seen when looking the HTML source of the page. If you care about your code being valid, then try this out. Although the WDT has a HTML validator feature, those validation results are shown to you from an external website, rather than being shown along with the page’s source code.
  6. Rainbow 1.5.1 – This add-on has a color picker and eyedropper + saving colors. It allows you to try out colors with drag and drop. Want to know the hexadecimal notation (HEX) color of a particular blue that is in a jpeg image without needing an image editor (like Photoshop)? With Rainbow, it’s no problem.
  7. Lazarus: Form Recovery 2.3 – Lazarus securely auto-saves all forms as you type, so after a crash, server timeout, or whatever, you can go back to the form and get the form data back. If you have a lot of forms that need testing and would like to use actual form content, this add-on will make it a less tedious task.
  8. FireFTP – FireFTP is a free, secure, cross-platform FTP/SFTP client for Mozilla Firefox which provides easy and intuitive access to FTP/SFTP servers. If you are experienced with FileZilla, FireFTP will be familiar.

And of course, the latest version of Firefox can be downloaded from the Mozilla website.