Common Mistakes: Functional Web Specification

Ineffective functional specification for web projects such as web sites, intranets or portals contribute largely to delays, higher costs or applications that do not match the expectations. Independent if the Web site, Intranet or Portal is custom developed or built on packaged software such as Web-, enterprise content management or portal software, the functional specification sets the foundation for project delays and higher costs. To limit delays and unexpected investments during the development process, the following pitfalls should be avoided:Too vague or incomplete functional specification: This is the most common mistake that companies do. Everything that is ambiguously or not specified at all, developers do not implement or implement in a different way of what site owners want. This relates primarily to Web features that are considered as common user expectations. For example, HTML title tags, which are used to bookmark Web pages. The Web steering committee may specify that each page contains a page title, but does not specify that HTML Title tags needs to be implemented as well. Web developers therefore may do not implement HTML Title tags or implement them in a way, which differs from site owners’ visions. There are other examples such as error handling on online forms or the definition of ALT texts for images to comply with the disability act section 508. These examples look like details but in practice, if developers need to modify hundreds or even thousands of pages, it amounts to several man-days or even man-weeks. Especially, the corrections for images as business owners need first to define the image names prior that Web developers can implement the ATL texts. Ambiguous functional specification can result due to the lack of internal or external missing usability skills. In this case, a one-day usability best practice workshop transfers the necessary or at least basic usability skills to the Web team. It is recommended, even for companies that have usability skills or rely on the subcontractor’s skill set, that an external and neutral consultant reviews the functional specification. Especially, as such reviews relate to marginal spending as compared to the total Web investments (e.g. about $10 K – $15 K dollars for a review).Future site enhancement not identified or not communicated: It is crucial that the Web committee identifies at least the major future site enhancements and communicates them to the development team. In the best case, the development team knows the roadmap for the coming three years. Such an approach allows the development team to anticipate implementation choices to host future site enhancements. It is more cost effective on mid- or long-term to invest more in the beginning and to build a flexible solution. If Web teams do not know or even ignore future enhancements, the risk for higher investment increases (e.g. adding new functionality in the future results in partially or at worst in totally rebuilding existing functionality). Looking at the financial delta for a flexible solution versus a solution just satisfying the current requirements, the flexible solution has proven to be more cost-effective in practice from a mid- and long-term perspective.Planned functionality not aligned with internal resources: Many companies look at site functionality only from a site visitor perspective (e.g. facilitation of searching information or performing transaction) and corporate benefits (e.g. financial benefits of self-service features). However, there is a third dimension the impact of site functionality on internal resources. Site functionality that can heavily impact internal resources are for example:- Web sites: providing news, online recruitment, online support, etc.- Intranets / portals: providing content maintenance functionality for business managers.It is crucial for the success of site functionality that the Web committee analyzes the impact and takes actions to ensure operations of the planned functionality. For example, providing the content maintenance functionality to business owners and product mangers with an associated workflow. This functionality is effective and can generate business benefits such as reduced time to market. However, in practice, business owners and product managers will need to write, validate, review, approve and retire content. This results in additional workload. If the Web committee has not defined in the Web governance (processes, policies, ownership and potentially enforcement), it may happen that this functionality is not used and hence becomes useless.Wish lists versus actual needs and business requirements: The functional specification is not aligned with user’s needs or business requirements. This is more common for internal applications such as Intranets or portals. In many cases, the project committee neglects to perform a sound internal survey and defines functionality by generalizing individual employees’ wishes without any sound proves. Capturing the feedback of internal users across the organization allows determining the critical functionality. To effectively perform a survey a representative set of employees need to be questioned. Further these employees need to be categorized into profiles. The profiles need to be characterized by for example, frequency of usage of the Intranet, estimated duration by visit, usage of the Intranet to facilitate their daily tasks, contribution to the business, etc. Based on this information the Web team can then prioritize the functionality and choose the most effective and relevant functionality for the next release. Less critical or less important functionality may be part of future releases (roadmap) or dropped. If such a sound decision process is not performed, it may happen that functionality is developed but only used by few users and the return of investment is not achieved.Not enough visual supports or purely text based: Textual description of Web applications can be interpreted subjectively and hence leading to wrong expectations. To avoid setting wrong expectations, which may are only discovered during development or at worst at launch time, functional specification need to be complemented by visual supports (e.g. screenshots or at best HTML prototypes for home pages or any major navigation pages like sub-home pages for the major sections of the site such as for human resources, business units, finance, etc.). This allows reducing subjective interpretation and taking into account the users’ feedback prior development. Such an approach helps setting the right expectations and to avoid any disappointments at the end once the new application is online.We have observed these common mistakes, independently if companies have developed their Web applications internally or subcontracted them to an external service provider.

Do You Really Need New Gadgets?

The world around us is very dynamic as we can experience various impacts of Science and Technology. From time to time, new gadgets are introduced into the market. Since they are indispensable, they really affect our daily lives in several ways.Sometimes, movies that are based on science fiction showcase incredible gadgets which can perform extraordinary functions. For instance, before manufacturers began to make GPS-enabled phones, there was a singer who used a gadget to physically locate someone. Today, you can find many brands of GPS-enabled devices. Anything is actually possible as far technology is concerned.The more complicated the world becomes, the more will there be the necessity for devices that can adequately satisfy certain requirements pertaining to human needs. Basically, new gadgets come with excellent features that surpass the functionality of previous versions, the objective being the need to meet the rising needs of consumers. In some cases, the gadgets have little improvement on previous versions or models.Because of the natural tendency for people to desire new gadgets, they often take quick decisions to buy them without proper considerations. It’s however advisable to buy a device that has exciting features, provided that they are important to you. Ensure you first check the features of the new gadgets, comparing them with what you already have. If there are only little differences, you can ignore it. Also, if the product is just a copy of the brand you have, don’t waste your time and money on it. Nevertheless, if the product has significant improvements over previous models or version, you can choose to buy them.People make use of electronic devices on a daily basis. The basic fact that you should consider is the functionality and features of the new gadget – these are the main factors that will help you to determine whether you should buy it or not. Don’t just purchase it because it’s new. Ensure that it has desirable features that surpass the model you already have. After all, the major aim of individuals when buying a new device is to improve on the quality of life in such a way that they will be able to do things with ease and great convenience.New gadgets will always find their way into the market. Manufacturers will always work to improve on the features and functionality of their existing products. Innovation is the watchword that gives rise to latest devices, and there is no person who is not fascinated by them.

Sport Nutrition for Children For Improved Performance

Observing proper sport nutrition for children is not just beneficial for enhancing their sports performance, but also for ensuring they stay healthy. Parents must therefore take an active role in overseeing what food components are included in your child’s diet to ensure that it will foster their development, growth, and performance at their chosen sport.Importance of Balanced Nutrition for Active ChildrenYou need to have a good understanding of what makes up a good nutritional diet to be able to provide for your child’s nutritional needs. You cannot expect your child to be healthy physically and mentally unless they get the right nutrition that their body needs.The key factor to remember here is to make sure they get balanced nutrition. Meaning, they must consume food from all the basic food groups as part of their daily diet. There are three groups that must be equally consumed as part of their daily meal plan: grain group (such as rice, pasta, or bread), dairy foods (such as cheese, milk, and yogurt), and fruits and vegetables. Make sure to provide protein foods such as fish, meat, and poultry as it helps to nourish the muscles and provide energy needed by the body to perform sports.There are various conceptions of what a good nutrition is and intake recommendations for each child could largely vary. But the main idea is to provide a variety of foods from each food group to ensure that all essential nutrients are acquired as part of sport nutrition for children.Nutritional Issues to Consider Children involved in sports need additional nutrition to ensure they remain healthy whilst boosting their sports performance. However, there are significant nutritional issues that are involved in sports nutrition. Make sure you address them to help your child stay competitively active.Each issue is discussed in more detail below.Timing of Intake When it comes to sport nutrition for children, it is not just about the amount of nutrients and vitamins that one can intake. The timing of intake could also create a major impact. Children are recommended to have 5 or 6 meals per day made up of three big meals and two or three snack meals. This is ideal for maintaining the appropriate energy levels in their body to perform their sports activities.Appropriate Hydration As children sweat during sports activities, they lose essential fluids from the body. It is therefore important to stay hydrated by ensuring that your body has enough essential fluids. Children (as are adults) are encouraged to drink plenty of water and make sure to drink during break to replenish the hydration which has been lost. Aside from water, drinking sports fluids are sometimes recommended, depending on the level of activity, as they contain electrolytes. But note they should not be considered as a permanent alternative to water and have may have a high sugar content.RefuelingNo matter how much water they drink, children can sweat a lot during sports and it is important to rehydrate as required.According to health experts, eating a meal or snack after the athletic activity is recommended to refuel your body. Ensure the snack contains protein and carbohydrates for proper refueling. This is an important tip for parents who wanted to ensure proper sport nutrition for children because it also prepares the body for future sports activities.If you are ever in doubt, or require more tailored advice, you can contact a dietitian, family doctor or the school/club sports trainer and/or coach.