Handing over a digital project is like passing a football

A blog post by Andreas Markdalen called Calculated Errors РThe Ink Trap got me thinking a little while back. It looks at what happens when you hand a project over to a client:

Many times our design solutions fail following that crucial handover point, when we no longer control/curate the direction, and when the idea is too complex or demands too much from whoever is taking it over

He goes on to draw a really interesting analogy with how typefaces have been designed to take account of the way that ink behaves in the printing process. It’s great – well worth a read.

Now, I’m no typography buff so I thought about how I’d go about framing that same idea in the context of handing over a website to a client. I maintain that football’s both simple and complex enough to provide analogies for pretty much anything and this is no exception (although you could probably substitute your team ball sport of choice).

Proper passing

When you’re passing a ball to someone it’s not enough to hoof it in their general direction and let them take things from there. If they lose the ball when played into trouble by a hospital pass then it’s your fault, not theirs.

To pass a ball to someone properly you should take into account:

  • Where they are
  • The direction they’re moving (or the direction you think they should be moving in)
  • Whether they’re left or right-footed
  • Their level of skill, which will affect how likely they are to be able to control a firmly hit or airborne ball
  • What their next move might be, and
  • Whether they’re paying sufficient attention.

It’s not always easy. It requires vision, anticipation, empathy, good decision making and sufficient ability in execution in order to do it well. That’s what you see when Barcelona are knocking the ball around.

So that got me thinking about how digital projects are handed over to clients. At the most basic level it’s about making something that’s absolutely fit for purpose, providing some scope for future development (which may include scaling up or scaling back), taking account of the level of internal resource required and providing upfront and ongoing training and support as and when it’s needed.

So there you go. Football. I realise I’ve alienated most of the people who might be reading this but sod it. If it helps, here’s xkcd on the same subject.

Published by Chris Unitt

I work at One Further, doing digital projects with cultural organisations. Follow @ChrisUnitt or find me on LinkedIn.