Why using 'best practices' may not be the best approach for your next digital project

By Haley Lloyd, 20 November, 2019

Best practices. The term is not exclusive to the digital world. It has been found in Clinical, Agricultural, Educational and Environmental applications. It's prevalent in Government and Public Policy. It's ideologies and processes spread far and wide, all aiming to use historically effective solutions to address current problems and challenges. In theory, and often execution, utilizing best practices is an excellent way to quickly diagnose the core issue at hand and effectively solve it.

While discussing how to design and build a client's app or website it's common to communicate that we use best practices within digital applications. Typically, those words communicate to clients both technically-savvy and those less familiar that at the baseline, that we design and build with intent, meaning: speedy load times, mobile optimization, SEO, WCAG 2.0-compliance, and strong security, to name a few. Not only are these features 'best practices', but they are fundamental in every website we build and should be non-negotiable for any developer creating websites for their clients, at no additional cost. As experts, it is our responsibility to create products that maintain a certain standard, and not fill the web with more trash. Using these best practices doesn't simply benefit the client and the end-users. Agencies and freelancers have reaped the benefits of these repeatable standards, as it enables a level of predictability, which invariably trims cost due to the reduction of effort it takes to conceptualize, and often, implement. Perhaps these particular best practices should be renamed as Required Practices.

The term simply doesn't die there. “Digital transformation” is a buzzword that has a rather convoluted meaning. Defined simply, it's the process of utilizing digital technologies to create new or change existing business processes and customer experiences to address evolving business and industry requirements. Billion-dollar corporations and national companies alike are constantly searching and paying top dollar for high-profile agencies and consulting firms to design and execute on strategies that will transform their business. By definition, transform means to make a dramatic change. The team at Planetary has been approached by clients throwing around words like big data, Industry 4.0, Personalization, and you guessed it, Best Practices. However, if best practices are proven effective because they are supported by objective and comprehensive research and evaluation, how can we apply those principles to a completely different organization, let alone an entirely different industry? That level of innovation requires a strategy completely tailored to their individual needs and challenges, not just some basic set of rules and requirements re-purposed and slapped with new branding.

Experience in these engagements is unmistakably an important part of choosing a vendor, but imagination is what I believe to be the secret sauce. With all of the recent advancements in technology, it's more important than ever to embrace innovation, and often that means exploring non-traditional ways to achieve your goals. Whether you're a Fortune 500 company or an online boutique, the users, and their experience interacting with your brand matters. Best practices will always be a great foundation, but to truly innovate requires making changes in something established.