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Case Study: An Award Winning Approach to Agile Development

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Posted by Guest Blogger

May 1, 2015

flames_from_laptop-203290-editedCurrently in its sixth year, the Agile Awards were designed to reward and recognize those teams and individuals leading the movement in the Agile industry. Each year, the Agile Awards continued to grow in popularity and stance, and as such, Yoh recognized the need to expand not only the audience reach, but enhance the user experience when participating in this award-based event. So, it turned to the Agile Development methodology. 

Siteset Digital became involved with the Agile Awards in 2014, when its team was nominated for an award and, later that year, also decided to become a sponsor of the event. Having worked with James Parkin, Yoh’s UK Business Director (MIRP), for many years he expressed an appetite to not only develop a more flexible and functional UK based website for the awards, but also to create something that would be able to live all year round and become a resource for the agile community as well as the awards. Following some initial consultancy, in January 2015 Yoh decided to bring Siteset in as the delivery partner for a new combined Awards and Magazine website.

 

The Challenge

In order for Yoh to start promoting the awards, the site needed  to go live in April of 2015. The scope of work included a number of key features:

  • Provide a showcase for the awards, past and present
  • The ability to see categories, and nominate for both judged and public vote awards
  • Facilitate public voting on relevant categories, but limit votes to one per company
  • Let nominees add further details, such as bios, while allowing Yoh to validate before auto-publishing
  • Allow tickets to be purchased for the awards, and then purchasers to subsequently register attendee details and generate tickets
  • Allow companies to register to become a sponsor for the event and then be showcased as such (including advertising slots in the site)
  • A reporting suite allowing Yoh to monitor nominations, track ticket purchases and total attendees, view nominations and votes, reissue tickets and view sponsorship submissions

Another key objective, was the development of the magazine style area of the site. This key consideration allows the site to have a year round lifespan,. The specifications consisted of the following:

  • A living ‘magazine’ site, featuring articles from different categories and authors, including imagery, that can be filtered by category
  • Have key advertising slots in both parts of the site that can be arbitrarily placed but also linked to specific articles and pages
  • Include a block type for arbitrary messaging

The main challenge for the project was to create a new design for both parts of the site, develop all the functionality and a fully responsive web presence and have the site ready to go live by 9th April. With the initiation meeting on 12th February, that left only eight weeks to complete the work.


The Approach

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With a huge amount of work to undertake in only eight weeks, taking an agile approach was the only viable way to ensure critical deliverables were completed in time for go live. Usually, Siteset would allow at least twelve weeks undertaking a project of this scale, so delivering in time would be a big task .

Using SCRUM as the delivery methodology, SiteSet broke down all the delivery tasks into a backlog, and then estimated each step. These were then tackled in priority order, with the first two week sprint focussing on functional specification, a graphical design approach for the homepage and wireframing of all the other pages.

BACKEND DEVELOPMENT

After the development environments were setup, the CMS models were created and the initial development began for the core functionality (creation of databases, submitting data, integration to the CMS, etc.). By the end of sprint one, the graphical design was reviewed with Yoh and signed off (with some change request documented) and all the wireframes and user journeys approved. The functional flows for the backend processing had been prototyped and tested.  Additionally, the frontend requirements were created but without styling.

FRONTEND DEVELOPMENT

In the second sprint, the frontend developers started by developing  pages using a ‘design in build’ approach with the CMS models. This took a ‘black text on white’ start point and styled up the homepage to a fully working responsive layout. The global styles were developed used to iteratively develop the other layouts for the site. At the same time, the backend functionality was finalised to facilitate purchasing, nominations, voting and sponsorship signup through the website. The frontend developers worked in a pair programming manner with the backend developers to integrate the form pages with the functionality.  An un-styled admin suite was iteratively created to support database management with new un-styled functionality added as it was developed.

In sprint three, the final integration of mailing services, payment services and the magazine part of the site was styled. Again, content was put in to the CMS and tagging setup so that the site could be styled from ‘black text on white’ with real data. Using the approach of styling up real content also allowed the content to be populated throughout the duration of the development, rather than having a large content migration task at the end of the project. More importantly, the user experience was representative of the final content from day one, so any concerns with the content display could be identified immediately rather than in final testing.


The Result

By deadline day at the end of sprint three the awards site was ready to go live with all the core functionality:

  • Nominations for all award categories
  • Ability to vote for nominees
  • Ability to review and moderate nominations for voting prior to publication
  • Ability to purchase tickets and receive receipts
  • Ability to register attendees for the event
  • Email communications to nominees, admins, voters and purchasers
  • Content to publicize the 2015 awards and overview the previous awards

In the following week, the final changes were made to the magazine part of the site with tagged content by the end of that week. The final week (the end of sprint four) was used to finalise the design for the tickets so that the full ticket generation could be enabled by the beginning of May.

The project was priority driven, with Yoh able to review the site as it developed and provide feedback as elements were built. This prevented costly change requests towards the end of the project as any changes could be incorporated as part of the process. It also ensured that Yoh’s priorities for a live site in April were able to be met. Less critical functionality was delivered afterwards with phased releases to the build.

As you would expect for the Agile Awards website, its creation was truly agile. From inception through go live, the project was phased and priority driven, allowing Yoh to be at the heart of the process and the site to be delivered in a timely manner, despite the large scale of work required.

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ABOUT SITESET

Siteset Digital was founded in 1995 and is based in Maidenhead in the Thames Valley. The agency works with medium to large organisations, helping them build portfolios and providing Web Portfolio Management Services to keep these up to date, compliant and on brand.  The agency ethos is practical and agile, with user experience at the heart of its process.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Sheppard is the Managing Director of Siteset Digital, a practical and agile agency where UX is a standard part of their approach. Having previously worked for a large WPP agency, as well as Capita and at Virgin Media, he has transformed and grown Siteset into a modern and responsive agency that currently looks after the biggest single portfolio of websites in the world.

Topics: IT Staffing, UK Agile Awards

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