Waterfall Software Development

Here at Brain Box, we often use the waterfall development process to bring clients' websites, software and apps to life. If you think waterfall development might be right for your project, read more about our approach to the waterfall methodology.

Waterfall development methodology

The waterfall development methodology is an approach to software development that emphasizes the progressive steps taken to develop software. As the name suggests, these stages cascade down in a sequential process. It's one of the oldest and most practiced development methodologies in modern software development.

Waterfall methodology vs. agile

There are two general approaches to web development: waterfall and agile. Both can work, but there's usually one option that will serve your project and team better than the other depending on your needs.

Agile methodology is an incredibly iterative process where designers and developers work alongside each other in sprints – time-boxed periods of one to four weeks – to complete tasks and ship code regularly. On the other hand, the waterfall development methodology is a progressive system where each task is completed independent of the other. For example, with waterfall, we don't begin building your site or software until we've got a good handle on designs.

Waterfall development process

The waterfall development methodology follows a very similar structure, regardless of the software or website being developed. When working with the waterfall development team at Brain Box, you can expect us to go through each of these project phases.

1. Planning and goal setting

Before we start designing or developing your project, we'll spend time getting to know your business and goals. We'll begin with a discovery session to learn about your industry, competitors, end users and business goals. We'll translate those goals into an executable project plan and technical requirements, assign timelines and milestones and ensure our team has everything they need to succeed.

2. Design

Once we have set goals in place, we'll begin the design process. This stage itself has multiple phases. First, we'll define the user experience through user flow mapping. Through this activity, we'll identify the different ways a user can navigate through the software or website to complete certain tasks or conversions. This will help us layout content to empower ease of use down the road.

Next, we'll design wireframes – high-level designs that show what content should go on each page. Finally we'll flesh out those wireframes into full-fledged designs, applying your visual and written identity with compelling graphics, images and copy.

3. Development

After we have designs finalized, we'll hand them off to our waterfall developers to be implemented in code. We can make small adjustments down the road, but in a waterfall project, it's best to have designs nice and buttoned-up before moving into development.

4. Testing

After we code your website or software, we go through a rigorous testing and quality assurance process to ensure the user experience is seamless, error-free and optimized for conversions. We'll invite you to test along with us, and we'll use a bug-tracking tool to make it easy to log bugs and quickly fix them.

5. Launch

We'll take your software or website live and celebrate together!

Waterfall development life cycle

Just because the waterfall process has ended doesn't mean our work is done. In fact, the waterfall development life cycle often repeats after an initial product is launched. We'll continue to make improvements to your site or software, updating content and adding functionality to improve the user experience and reach your business goals faster.

Waterfall projects

Waterfall as a methodology originated in construction and manufacturing, two industries where it makes a lot of sense to design a product before building it. Later it was adopted in the software development industry for the same reasons. Today there are many different kinds of technical projects that use the waterfall development methodology, including:

  • Website development
  • Software development
  • App development
  • Product demos
  • Email marketing

Benefits of waterfall software development

The waterfall methodology is a highly practiced model – and for good reason. It comes with some very distinct benefits, including:

  • Clear and early goal setting: By nature, waterfall requires a clear articulation of goals and requirements early on in the project life cycle. This can help teams who have a hard time making decisions as a group, because it necessitates collaboration across all key stakeholders.
  • Great for large teams: Waterfall is a great methodology for large teams who are more distinct and don't have the time or space to work closely on a daily basis. Agile requires constant communication between design and development, while waterfall uses more of a pass-off method, allowing each team to own a specific portion of the project.
  • Clear structure and timeline: Unlike the more iterative, unstructured agile methodology, waterfall relies on a thoughtful, clear plan with predetermined milestones. This can be great for teams trying to balance a large workload or multiple projects.

Waterfall software development life cycle model

As you can see, the waterfall software development life cycle model can be a very effective way to bring your software ideas to fruition. As you're planning your web or software development project, consider whether the waterfall development methodology is right for you. Contact the experienced development and project management team at Brain Box today to talk to one of our waterfall experts about how we can use this proven methodology to turn your vision into functional code.