Master The Three Factors Of The Project Triangle

Part two in a series of blog posts looking at effective design and how to master the three factors of the project triangle. 

In the first post of this series we talked about how to start a design project on the right foot; by defining goals up front to ensure you stay on track throughout.

We touched on how everyone wants to achieve the “best” design but this week, we’re going to look at this area in a little more detail. In particular, we’re going to examine a handy diagram which, when used properly, could could save you hours of effort and ultimately, a big chunk of budget.

Read on to learn more…

The project triangle

The project triangle states that you can only prioritise two of its three factors: good, fast or cheap.

Let’s take a look at the possibilities:

  • Good and fast = not cheap

    The chances are if you pick these two you’ll need to throw in quite a bit of cash to achieve a good solution.

  • Fast and cheap = not good

    We all know that if we rush something and don’t allocate much budget, it’s likely the solution will suffer.

  • Good and cheap = not fast

    If we want a good solution and want to achieve it cost effectively, it’s likely we’ll have to spend longer doing it.

The project triangle is here to remind us of the tradeoffs that we need to make throughout the design process.

Clients and stakeholders will inevitably demand a design that is good, fast and cheap. But the system forces us to properly consider the value in our work and select priorities to ensure we reach the best result.

Using the project triangle as a rule of thumb, it’s easy to get an idea of how much effort (time and money) will be required to achieve something.

Prioritising in this way means tasks of lower value can be done fast and cheap, resulting in quicker delivery, allowing us to spend more time on higher value design problems.

dotSurvey and the project triangle

Design lessons like this run through everything we do at dotDigital from adding new features to dotdigital (including dotdigital’s famous EasyEditor) to whole new projects like the one we’ll look at next for examples: dotSurvey.

When we started working on the design of dotSurvey, you gave us a long list of things you wanted the app to do.

The difference in demand for each allowed us to prioritise and understand the value of each problem. Using the project triangle, we were able to work out how much effort we needed to put into each at both the design and development stage.

Does each feature require full in-depth research and a ‘reinventing of the wheel’ or can we achieve what our users need with less effort?

Most asked for request: The ability to get a survey looking the way you want on your website as easily as possible without having to code or engage your web team.

As this was a high value requirement, we knew we needed to put in the effort to deliver the best possible solution.

We didn’t want to compromise the quality of the most important requirement by delivering it fast and cheaply. We also knew that to deliver a good solution fast, we’d need to use all designers and developers from across the dotDigital Group- a serious commitment of resources.

We’re proud to have spent time working out the finer design details of this requirement. As a result, we’ve been through a complete end-to-end design and development process to bring you what we believe is the best solution: CopyKat.

Find out more about CopyKat and how it can make your life easier…

Less commonly requested (but still important): To be able to share surveys via social networks.

Designing the sharing to social networks feature didn’t need us to reinvent the wheel. By concentrating on the most popular social networks within our target audience (in this case Facebook and Twitter) and by using their connectors, we were able to add this functionality into the app very quickly and cheaply.

The best solution

We believe we’ve achieved the best design solution to these two problems by prioritising requirements guided by you, our users. Using the project triangle we’ve been able to understand the value in each and therefore the amount of effort required.

Therefore next time you embark on a design task, ask yourself and your client or stakeholders: would you like it to be good, fast or cheap? Pick two.

To see all the Design blog series in the same place check out our handy Effective Design page! Above all, be sure to pop by regularly as we’ll be updating it with other blogs in this series, here is the link.

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