User focused - the foundation of the entire project will be our user research. We will work with user stories and will test at every step possible with real users. We will not ignore our internal users though - the Publishing team will have as much influence on the design of our publishing tools as external users do on the front-end.
Data Driven - this is more than just using data to support the decisions we make regarding the site - though that is key. The site itself needs to be 'data driven' from the ground up. The Data API needs to be a key feature from the start. Any chance of future proofing this site is going to rely on this.
Google is our homepage - 80% of our traffic already comes from Google and that is despite our current anti-SEO strategy. This needs to be at a minimum a two fold issue. Develop an IA that works for users who enter the site from search queries and add technical SEO features from day one (Persistent, hackable URIs. Schema.org.)
IE7 is dead / IE8 is on life support - the Alpha will be designed for IE9 onwards as well as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc. Every effort will be made to ensure it at least works in IE8 but with an expectation that some features will fail (gracefully).
Do not reinvent the wheel - wherever possible we will use open source tools and technologies and build on top of the great work that already exists. We will not fall in to the trap of 'not invented here' and we will accept that sometimes good enough is good enough.
Build for sustainability - when we select these open source technologies and tools we need to consider existing communities, support and the ability to recruit people with the required skills as well as the ability to train staff in that knowledge.
Bake in accessibility from day one - we won't fall in to the trap of being forced to retrofit good accessibility practices in later in the project. We will start with it as a core requirement. We will publish an accessibility policy for the Alpha at the start of development.
agile not AGILE - we won't get hung up on Scrum vs Kanban vs DSDM. We will work with the principles of the Agile Manifesto front and centre in our approach but we will, as a team, decide on an approach that works for us.
Machines have needs too - the Data API is important here but whatever we do we must make it simple and straightforward to access 'machine readable data' from the site. Persistent URIs and using open standards for statistical releases (i.e. http://dataprotocols.org/tabular-data-package/) are a minimum target.