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Depth Scales: Dynamic Feature Planning

Key Points

  • Depth scales show a range of increasingly difficult (and valuable) ways of addressing a specific capability or functionality on a digital presence.
  • Take a dynamic planning approach
  • Think creatively about how you could address your desired new feature or capability
Related resource
Change Request Flowchart | Use this flowchart when you get a change request

Teams are often far too static and literal in their website planning, be it on an ongoing basis or during large change (see principle 6 of the eight principles of ongoing change). A typical approach is to paint a very specific picture of what the change will look like, and then to execute against that detailed view. This approach overlooks the fact that things change over time, both before the change is completely implemented and also after the desired change is complete (which then must be improved and maintained). To be more dynamic, one of the approaches we use with clients is depth scales, especially when developing implementation strategies.

What are depth scales? 

Depth scales show a range of increasingly difficult (and valuable) ways of addressing a specific capability or functionality on a digital presence. Ideally, they also indicate where you are now and where you are attempting to go in the current planning horizon. 

Example depth scale, for educating and including the public

Here is an example depth scale for the need to educate and include the public (this was for a government site): 

Example depth scale

Why depth scales?

As mentioned above, a primary reason to use depth scales is to be more dynamic. In specific:

Another key reason for depth scales is that you're more likely to implement something useful and to get better alignment in the first place. It's trivial to say "we're going to educate the public more," but that statement could mean something very different to different people. A depth scale helps to distill the issue more clearly so people understand the plan. But the exercise of developing depth scales also allows us to better understand the problem and to be creative about a range of potential options — that means that we can better pick a level of effort that can actually be implemented. Note that this is related to the need for a regular work program for site improvements: it forces you to be creative. 

Change Request Flowchart Use this flowchart when you get a change request