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The Communication Process

It makes no difference whether a site is dynamic or static when you reach the core concept behind its existence on the web. The web is nothing more than a high-speed communications vehicle. The page being viewed will communicate with the visitor, or, in the case of dynamic sites, the visitor can communicate with the page.

If you understand that you are dealing with a communications medium, then you can also grasp the importance of clear lines of communication between all the players, from client to team member, in the development process. This communication can be anything from interpersonal communication to the trading of email. Regardless of how you choose to communicate with each other, the key is simply to communicate. The last thing a client or project manager needs to hear is, "Well, no one told me."

Client/Team Communication

A key communication vehicle for all parties is a staging area where the client can view the progression of the project. This usually takes the form of a site created in Dreamweaver.

If you are considering a client site, set up areas for the team and the client, and password-protect both areas. This way, you can control, on the client side, whom the client talks to. If properly designed, a client site imposes tight controls on the communications and avoids conflicting messages to the players.

If you do build a client site, consider adding these features:

  • Security: Most work done involves a legally binding Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). To avoid infringing on the project's release date or other confidential information, password protection—to avoid leaks and to protect the confidentiality of the client's work—is the first line of defense.

  • Threaded Communications: By having all the communications in one place, you have a dated record of all communications. This is especially useful in situations where a team member, for example, claims he or she never saw the authorization to proceed.

  • Contact Information: Ensure everyone on the team has current contact information for all team members. In the case of contract members, this will include phone numbers and a valid email address. The client should provide this information on his side of the fence to the project manager.

  • Critical Path: Make the critical path or other scheduling device available to both the client and the team.

We aren't going to explain how to build a client site because these sites inevitably reflect the complexity of the project and the design standards of the developer. If you are looking for a couple of excellent overviews of how create a client site, Kelly Goto presents in her New Riders book, Web Redesign: Workflow that Works, a rather simple example, and Todd Purgasson shows in his New Riders book, Flash deConstruction, how his company, Juxt Interactive, uses a fairly complex site as a communications vehicle.

We are going to show you how to construct a relatively simple chat room in Flash MX 2004. This could be used for real-time communication between the client and the team or as a communications vehicle between the various members of the project team.

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