There Is No I in Web Development Team

Who’s on your roster? No, we’re not talking fantasy football here. We’re talking about your web development team.

Perhaps your team is one person who does everything. Although this can work well for simpler web projects, more complex sites typically require more skills than any one person has, and the work is allocated to different specialists.

Team Members

So who are these specialists? Every web development team is different, and some are larger than others. Here are some roles that might be found on a development team:

  • HTML Developer: Writes the HTML that encodes the web pages. This person may also work on the cascading style sheet (CSS) files that determine how the HTML elements look when displayed on the pages.
  • Script Developer: The script developer works on the programming that powers the cool features of the site, usually in JavaScript but sometimes in other programming languages, such as PHP, Java, VBScript, or Perl.
  • Database Developer: In projects that involve databases, a database specialist will be called upon to design the database tables, entity relationships, and queries.
  • Tester: The tester provides a fresh, objective set of eyes, and often specialized testing tools, to test all aspects of the site, from the visual presentation to the scripting and database functionality.
  • Systems Analyst: If the client has complex needs, a systems analyst may be brought in to make sure all the client’s requirements are discovered and documented, so that the developers can design a solution that doesn’t overlook anything or leave design choices to guesswork.
  • User Experience Designer: Sometimes the functional design—the choice of controls to be implemented to realize the client’s requirements—is performed by a user experience designer who is an expert in usability.
  • E-Commerce Specialist: For e-commerce sites, a specialist in a particular e-commerce platform may help set up the online store, including the product types and categories, the content management system, search engine, promotions, and more.
  • Project Manager: For very complex projects, a project manager may be used to coordinate the efforts of the other team members and ensure the project is progressing within the planned schedule and budget and that any obstacles are swiftly dealt with.

Most teams will not have all of these roles on them, and some will have other roles besides these.

Advantages of the Team Approach

Why would having a team of people working on a site be better than a one-person operation with “one throat to choke?” Clearly, for small projects, having a large team is overkill, and one person who knows enough about all the aspects of a straightforward web development project should be sufficient.  But as soon as you start adding complexity to the project, the more attractive a team approach becomes:

  • Team members have specialized knowledge and skills that a generalist typically does not possess.
  • Team members can work in parallel, shortening the development schedule.
  • Team members can check one another’s work to ensure the quality of the final product.

How do you know when your project should be tackled by a team rather than an individual? There’s no bright-line distinction because different one-person shops (and different teams, for that matter) have different capabilities; a highly skilled individual may sometimes outperform a team of specialists. Developers who are honest (with themselves as well as their clients) will recognize when a job is too big for one person and will recommend going with a team.

In any case, although a one-person shop may cost less per hour than a team, a good team that can get it done right the first time will represent a better value than a single developer who does not have all the necessary skills. Invest wisely because where your website is concerned, the stakes are real. Unlike your fantasy football team.