Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Version control, part of Mapping the Modern Web Design Process.
- In addition to content, style, code and process guides, there's one more technological step you can take that will both simplify and make your process more effective, whether you're working as a team, or on your own: version control. Now, if you've been around the block a few times, version control probably isn't something new to you. But the face of version control has changed dramatically over the past few years, in large part due to the massive popularity of open source software and the rise of online version control services like GitHub.
If you're not familiar with version control, here's a one-minute primer: Version control is a technical term for creating snapshots and virtual timelines for your content. Like my fellow lynda.com staff author Ray Villalobos says, branching on GitHub is like the alternate timelines in Star Trek. Here's how it works: When you're working on a project, you can commit the project to version control software at any time.
By committing, you are, in effect, creating a snapshot of what the project looked like at that time. Once that snapshot is made, you can always return to it, meaning you can reset your project to an earlier state at any time. But there's more. When you decide to do an experiment, or add a new element to your project, you can make a branch, meaning a separate version or timeline of your project and add the experiment or element there.
That way, you can make comprehensive changes to your new branch without affecting the main branch, and work in parallel with other team members without overriding what the others are doing. If the experiment is a success, you could then merge the experimental branch back with the original. If the experiment is a failure, you can just abandon the branch and return to your original as if nothing happened. Version control has been around for a long time and has been part of the standard process for many genres of development.
Windows developers have long been using Team Foundation Server, or TFS, as their version control system. Linux core developers have been using Git. Other open source developers have used Subversion or Mercurial. Today, in large part thanks to the popularity of open source software and GitHub, the most prevalent version control system is Git, and if you're thinking about incorporating version control into your process ... Hint, hint: you really should ...
Then I recommend you focus on Git, too. We have several courses in the library to get you started with Git and GitHub, including James Williamson's GitHub for Web Designers because despite of what it looks like, version control isn't just for developers. Designers can use Git, too.
- Understanding what your users care about
- Creating user personas
- Creating content priority hierarchies
- Testing wireframes and interaction patterns
- Establishing a three-track build process
- Incorporating accessibility principles
- Using content blocks
- Testing and revising your web design
- Optimizing for social media and SEO
- Launching your web design
- Getting feedback from users