What is Agile Methodology? 

Agile methodology

Agile methodology is a set of tools, skills, and knowledge that is considered (collectively) as an alternative method to conventional product management and development. It is often used in software development wherein teams act and decide in response to unpredictability through iterative work sprints.

The Origin of Agile

The 1970 publication by Dr. Winston Royce entitled "Managing the Development of Large Software Systems" criticized the sequential process involved in product development.

Dr. Royce emphasized that software should not be developed like a product on an assembly line where each component is added in sequential phases, and where each phase must be completed before starting the next phase – the so-called “waterfall” approach. He opposed this phase-based approach wherein developers first gather all of the requirements, complete all of the architecture and design elements, write all the code, do all testing, and so on. Dr. Royce specifically opposed this style of process because of the lack of communication between the specific groups which complete every phase.

In waterfall methodology, teams only have a single chance to get things right. It is also not an optimized method compared to the concept of agile. Waterfall method assumes that each requirement can be identified prior to the design and coding processes. Could you tell your developers all they need to know (requirements and all elements) to include in the software before it is up and running? Or would it be easier to illustrate your idea to the development team if you could give feedback on functional software?

Why Go the Agile Way?

Using agile technology provides opportunities for your team to assess the direction of your project during the development process. This is attained through regular iterations, at the end of which, teams should present the resulting product increment. This method is described as 'incremental' and 'iterative' due to the process of repetitive shortened work cycles and the functional product they produce.
There are different types of agile methods that use the original principle stated in the agile manifesto. The most popular types are the following:


Scrum specifically focuses on how to manage tasks within a team-based development setting. It is the most widely implemented agile method possibly because it is easier for IT development teams to understand and follow. Scrum is not repressive and doesn't demand loads of technical discipline unlike well-defined Agile methods. It lets the development team decide what to do and how to do it; as well as get up to speed and begin doing Agile swiftly and cost-effectively.

Scrum certification helps fulfill the objective of the Agile manifesto by encouraging collaboration, productivity, and accomplishment among team members.      

Dynamic Systems Delivery Method (DSDM)
Possibly the original agile method, DSDM was already in existence even before the term 'agile' was used and adapted in software development.  DSDM fixes cost, time and quality at the outset and uses prioritization scope into “musts”, “shoulds”, “coulds”, and “won’t haves”.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming or XP is a more thorough type of agile method which focuses on process analysis, development, and test phases through frequent releases in short development cycles intended to improve productivity and introduce checkpoints to accommodate new customer requirements.

Among the three popular types, DSDM is possibly the most comprehensive agile method, while Scrum and XP are a lot easier to implement and complementary since they deal with various aspects of software development projects and both are established on very similar concepts.

In the last decade, many industries have seen the benefits of using agile technology. Media, marketing, technology, large corporations, as well as government sectors have seen a dramatic improvement in their IT development projects and team efforts, which also provides that much-needed competitive edge.

In agile product development, project management is a little different as it relies more on the team leader's skills in coordination, communication, and facilitation with less emphasis on planning and control. However, not all projects go well with this method and it is not always the key to instant success. The key is to understand many techniques from different agile and waterfall methodologies, and pick out the best approaches that will suit a specific situation.

Agile technology, with a combination of your team's skill and experience, can help you have a more flexible approach and less documentation, more collaboration and visibility that allows for a more rewarding team experience and better products as a result.


View User Profile for Brian Conte Brian founded Fast Track with over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience and technology expertise. Brian managed the development of Microsoft's first browser in 1985 and later founded hDC, the first Windows software company. Brian ran hDC, later named Express Systems, for 10 years before selling it to WRQ in 1996, where he remained as CTO. Brian spearheaded the development of one of WRQ's most successful products, Express 2000, which generated more than $10 million in its first year. Brian holds a BSE in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University.
Posted by Brian Conte Thursday, January 21, 2016 5:08:00 PM Categories: business partnership custom development enterprise project management small business tips technology web design web development

Website Tips and Trends: Top 5 Website Layout Trends in 2015 

Want to get ahead of your website conversions but don't know which one works best for your niche? Here's 5 trendy layouts for you.

Website layout trends

The ever evolving web has seen many changes in the way websites are developed and designed. From the glitzy and glamorous, to the simplistic and minimalist, today's website layouts are geared toward the user experience rather than impressing them.

If you are looking for website layout trends in 2015, here's a mix of remarkable and inspiring layouts you may want to apply:

Single Screen

Filling a single screen is one of the trends today. It is also a type of responsive design that adapts to the screen size, but has no scroll bars. The design completely fills the screen. The content of the site is tremendously focused and the (content) hierarchy is visibly established.

Single screen website can sometimes be dominated by a responsive image or a video clip.

Check out some examples of single screen website layouts here.


Modular or grid-based layout is also a responsive type of design. It’s flexible to adapt the size of the screen and uses adaptable layouts using plug-ins.

Creating same-size modules is one of the challenges of this layout since it lessens the emphasis on the most interesting content on the site. It is also difficult to grab the viewer's attention if you're focused on promoting a particular material or content on the site. Creating grids with various dimensions can prevent such problems.

Open style

We are all familiar with the design elements such as shapes, lines, boxes, and other 'dividers' containing content. Two of the most prominent elements among them are headers and footers which are designed to separate the important content from the rest of the material.

The latest website layout trend to remove of these elements and design a more open and free style layout. It offers a minimalistic look and feel, with an emphasis on the main content..

Split Screen

Split screen layout allows emphasis on two principal elements on a website. The significance of any website element is usually reflected on the hierarchy and structure. In this case, if you focus on two elements and would like to promote them simultaneously, a split screen website could be the best option.

Conveying duality is another reason to use this layout. If your business puts emphasis on products/services and your team, then this is the best layout to showcase your core assets to potential customers.

Flat UI

Another emerging trend is the use of flat user interface. This website layout strongly focuses on content and provides basic pattern with minimal distracting elements. Level UI is more simplistic in technique and has fewer image-concentrated patterns. There are easier pattern elements and fewer photographs which give way to a much faster website.

These are just some of the trends that many websites have applied and implemented these days. However, these are also building blocks which can be used in a variety of ways. Design according to any of these website layout trends depends on your business goals and how you can provide the best experience to your customers.

The usability and functionality of these layouts are also ever-evolving - allowing web designers to work on challenging but worthwhile mediums for every website owner's objectives.

If you wish to know more about these web layout trends or you would like to implement one for your business website, contact us today.

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Posted by Monday, July 13, 2015 9:56:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C responsive design SMB web design web trends website

8 Reasons Why Pageless Design Can Save You Time and Money and Increase Sales 

Here are the reasons why you should choose pageless design for your website

Among the web design trends that we saw coming in the past couple of years is pageless design. It fully utilizes its digital platform and creates a unique and enjoyable user experience that is intuitive, appealing, and with lots of options.

If you're at the brink of deciding on whether to use pageless design for your website, here are several reasons to do so:

(1) Motivates customers through storytelling

It's been said that storytelling is the best form for delivering one's message. Stories can inspire and motivate people to take action. A pageless format allows you and your design team to control the order of information that's being presented to website visitors. Since pageless web design uses a 'linear format', it helps in crafting the story while also delivering experience that's impossible to achieve using multi-page website structure.

(2) Improves user experience

Intuitive and simple navigation of a pageless design are achieved through scrolling. This eliminates the confusion and distraction that may cause your visitors to overlook the most important sections of your website content.

If you look at today's computers and mobile devices, they all have the scrolling capability which can help many users adapt to the technology. The smarter interfaces and simple navigation encourages visitors to continue perusing these sites, and eventually take action.

(3) Increases conversion rates

Generating new leads, growing your online community, and increasing sales are every website's objectives. A pageless website can help you achieve these goals, thanks to its simple and uncomplicated design that's coupled with compelling story and instinctive interactions among site visitors.

(4) Creates device uniformity

Scrolling your website on a mobile device or desktop doesn't have to be different in terms of user experience. Visitors can easily navigate using any device without the unnecessary constraints of dropdown menus and numerous clicks on page links. Best of all, it's cost-effective since you'll only need one design for both mobile and desktop.

(5) Decreases bounce rate and promotes sharing

The lack of complexity and distractions are just two of the main reasons why website visitors stay for a longer period of time. With a pageless design, your visitors can enjoy and focus on your storytelling.

Sharing your website's story is better than just sharing a particular page. This helps drive your visitors into an effective sales funnel organically.

(6) Enables faster, easier, and more effective iteration

Dealing a single page based on visitors' feedback and analytics makes it easier, faster and effective. You'd only have to tweak specific interactions in order to improve and make them more satisfying to your visitors.

(7) You save time and money

As mentioned earlier, it's more cost-effective to have a pageless website especially if you're developing one that's compatible with all types of devices. Traditional websites take a lot of time and tens of thousands of dollars to develop. You'll not only get a visually appealing website, but also one that actually gives you the best results.

(8) Use of interactive elements

Parallax scrolling, animations, videos and sliders are ideal features that make pageless websites more visually appealing. These features also initiate user-generated interactivity throughout your website.

As a business owner, you'd want a website that goes along with the ever-changing development and design objective. It needs to fulfill the primary goal of providing great user experience in order for visitors stay within the sales funnel, while sharing your site and returning for more.

Need a pageless web design for your own business website? Fast Track can help your business achieve one of today's web design trends. The first step is to contact us today.

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Posted by Sunday, May 24, 2015 10:31:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C landing pages SMB web design web development web trends website

6 Compelling Reasons to Have a Professionally Designed Website for Your Business  

why you should have a Have a Professionally Desig ned Website for Your Business


For many small business owners, designing their own websites seems like the best idea there is when money is tight. This is a scenario that's not uncommon, but it's also a huge consideration when it comes to taking your business to the next level.

Why not go for small business website solution instead of doing it the DIY way? Even if you're bootstrapping your way to gain online presence, there should be careful thought when it comes to your website. A web design and development team that doesn't charge too much is always available online and can provide you with the right solutions or package for you to achieve a professionally designed website for your business.

If you're caught in between the DIY way and getting in touch with a small business website solution, here are a few compelling reasons to go for the latter:

(1) You'll save a lot of time (and hassles)

If you're one of the many small business owners who are pondering on the DIY type websites, think again. Think many times.

It's so common for owners to go the DIY route if there are budget constraints. But do consider the amount of time you'll invest in it if you'll do it your way. Chances are you're also working on a 9-5 job and this website is just a side job for you, for now. Or if you do employ someone to do the task for you, it better not be your cousin who knows a bit of coding or your neighbor's son who's studying IT.

These may be good options if you're bootstrapping, but in the long run your website will require updates, upgrades, design code checks, and many others. If you'll do these yourself, it will take a longer time and you'll lose more money as you postpone your launch.


(2) You'll get more business

A professionally designed website needs to be pleasant-looking and offers great user-experience. These two are your top most goals in building your website because you need to attract and make a good impression to your potential customers. And the more professional-looking and user-friendly your website, the higher possibilities of making sale.


(3) It strengthens your brand     

Sending the right message to your customers can also be done through a professional-looking website. The design team can put together the right narrative, color scheme, and overall look and feel for your website based on the industry you're in and the customers you have.

Proper branding comes in various forms, and your website is a bigger chunk that should represent your business overall. It is the 'face' of your business, so it's imperative to use it well to capture more potential customers in the long term.


(4) You'll end up with a visually appealing website

Sure, you can easily buy a website theme, get web hosting plan, and post a few pages and updates. But does your site look professional?

It's easy to do all these things as the required elements are highly available and easy to access. They're also cheaper, but they're also generic most of the time. Don't be surprised to find the same theme used by a same-industry blogger or a competitor who's also bootstrapping.

If you have the opportunity to get a web design and development team like Fast Track, it's best to go for a professionally designed website right at the beginning. You'll need a significant amount of money to get a visually appealing business website that's unique and appropriate. But in the long run, it will be worth it.


(5) It ensures website security

If you need to add shopping cart and payment methods for your customers, it's best to employ a professional web design team to help you. They can facilitate this feature and include additional safety measures to make sure your site and customer transactions are safe from malware and other threats.


(6) You don't have to take care of everything

Like many online business owners, it's normal that you want to take care of everything when it comes to your website. Small business website solutions, like Power Site, are well versed on even the most minute details. They are experienced and skilled, so you only have to worry about your business and not your website design and development process.

It may be biased to say that it's still best to go for professionally designed websites. But look at the benefits and the time and money you'll save if you finally choose this route with the help of a web design and development team like Fast Track. If you need to build and design your business website, give us a call and let's get started.

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Posted by Monday, May 18, 2015 9:48:00 AM Categories: responsive design web design

Why Mobile-Friendly Website Design is Crucial for Small Businesses 

mobile friendly website design for small businesses

The proliferation of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, presents a need for mobile-friendly websites. This need became inevitable a few of years ago when many online businesses delve into mobile marketing strategies (i.e. SMS or text ads) in order to reach new audiences, while retaining the old ones via mobile channels.

For small business owners, it is never too late to develop online presence for both computer and mobile device users. The first step is to choose a small business website solution that can help you build a website with a responsive design. With a responsive design, your viewers can see a good layout of your website whenever they prefer to use a mobile device.

To better understand the current impact of mobile-friendly websites, consider these stats:

In 2011, Microsoft created and published an infographic that shows internet usage via mobile will overtake desktop by 2014.

And according to Google

  • 80% of online searchers leave their homes with their mobile device
  • smartphones are used: 97% at home, 83% on the go, and 78% in shops
  • 70% of mobile searchers are connected with a business
  • 52% of them called the business/service
  • 50% looked up on a map or got directions to that business
  • 66% of mobile searchers visited the business and 48% visited the website
  • 36% of mobile searchers made a purchase

There are many online reports and whitepapers showing stats similar to these. What they all convey is the opportunity to convert mobile searchers into customers. If you haven’t considered how visitors are interacting with your site through their mobile devices, you should.

If you're considering converting your site to be mobile responsive, consider these on four important things:

(1) Ensure you have a mobile-friendly website so your existing customers and prospects can shop your products and services on both desktop and mobile devices.

(2) Find ways to interact and engage with your potential customers, especially during promotional specials.  Keep your customers informed and engaged.

(3) Use mobile-specific tools/features to enhance the customer experience. Since this depends on the type of business and customers you have, think about the best way to get their attention without offending or bothering them.  Typically, companies offer informative articles, tips and other types of content that enhances the life of the consumer rather than selling to them.

(4) Mobile is not about technology. It is about your customers and prospects and how they use their mobile devices in finding and interacting with you. A successful mobile strategy entails getting more (new) customers while also selling more to existing clients.

Why go mobile?

  • It’s easier to immerse customers into your brand if they get the full electronic experience of your company on all devices.  
  • Having a responsive design is good for your site SEO.
  • Quite simply, it gives you more opportunity to sell!

Updating your website to a mobile-friendly format is essential to gain more customers. Most importantly, you have another way to keep the existing customers up-to-date and engaged.

Should you need a website update to make it mobile-friendly, Fast Track is here to help. Contact us today and let's begin this journey.

View User Profile for Shirish Sharma Shirish Sharma is a Project and Account Manager for Fast Track, Seattle, handling multiple Microsoft accounts. Shirish is a proactive, energetic, detail-oriented and versatile technical project manager with more than ten years' experience. He has successfully delivered high-quality Microsoft projects and has vast experience in software development life cycle. He holds a B.E. in Computer Technology from Nagpur University in Nagpur, India and a PG Diploma in Advanced Computing from the CDAC (Infoway Technologies) in Pune, India. Follow Shirish on Twitter as @ShirishTweets.
Posted by Shirish Sharma Monday, May 11, 2015 3:40:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C responsive design SMB web design web trends website
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