Deliverables do many things, but at the end of the day, there are three reasons to produce them:
Consistency of vision: Web designers who work on small teams and know their team members intimately have the luxury of working in an environment that's not unlike a marriage. It's not as feasible to anticipate each other's moves and reactions on a large team, where the players might change from project to project. As the conception of a web site evolves, different people will be involved at different stages. With large teams and large projects, the risk is that everyone ends up with a slightly different understanding of the concept. Documentation can make sure everyone gets on the ride together and stays togetherthat everyone can make worthwhile contributions to the project because they understand where the project is and where it's going.
Accountability: Whether you're a web designer consulting for an organization or one working inside an organization, you need a way to make sure everyone understands the decisions that have been made and the implications of those decisions.
Traceability: Documentation is a paper trail, even if you never print out a single deliverable. By capturing the decisions as the project progresses, you have a record of the entire project and can easily look back to see where the team made crucial decisions. Reaching the end of a project, you may realize that you don't remember why you did certain thingswas there a reason for this button's placement or that page's unusual layout? Having a collective history in its documentation allows you to uncover the rationale behind these decisions.
Even if you don't work on a large team, you may find these reasons relevant to your situation. Small web development shops may also need to provide some legal accountability when working on a contract. Teams may find... [continues]
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