SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

WorkingMouse ex­pands into mar­ket­ing site de­vel­op­ment

Firstly, let’s dis­tin­guish be­tween mar­ket­ing sites (websites) and web ap­pli­ca­tions. A mar­ket­ing site is a sta­tic web­site and will gen­er­ally be built us­ing an ex­ist­ing CMS (content man­age­ment sys­tem). An ap­pli­ca­tion on the other hand is much more com­plex and in­volves de­vel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive server side and client side to han­dle many sce­nar­ios.

Why we did it?

Across the com­pany, we have de­vel­oped the skills needed to de­liver mar­ket­ing sites. Some of the con­tribut­ing rea­sons be­hind ex­per­i­ment­ing with de­liv­er­ing mar­ket­ing sites in­clude;

  • Empower our UX de­sign­ers to de­liver pro­jects with­out de­vel­op­ers,
  • Allows us to of­fer an end to end ser­vice for our clients,
  • Explore the best tech­nolo­gies for build­ing mar­ket­ing sites,
  • Because, why not?

What was the use case?

An ex­ist­ing client, Aptus Systems were look­ing to mod­ernise their web­site to bring it in line with the cur­rent vi­sion and brand­ing. As WorkingMouse were in the midst of de­liv­er­ing a de­sign sys­tem for the client (a com­plex web ap­pli­ca­tion) it was a great op­por­tu­nity to lever­age our knowl­edge and de­liver a sup­port­ing mar­ket­ing site. The mar­ket­ing site was de­vel­oped over an ini­tial 2 week pe­riod, and re-vis­ited for an­other 2-3 days once the con­tent was con­firmed.

The web­site was a sin­gle page site built us­ing Wordpress. An ex­am­ple of the in­stal­la­tion part of the site is dis­played be­low.

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The Aptus prod­uct is quite tech­ni­cally com­plex. It was dif­fi­cult to con­vey all the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion in a sin­gle page web­site. In ad­di­tion to that, the client wanted to bring pro­ject work to the fore.

The re­sults

WorkingMouse used a com­bi­na­tion of Jekyll, Netlify, Netlify CMS & Zapier to de­liver the new Aptus mar­ket­ing site. This meant our tal­ented prod­uct suc­cess de­signer Rhiannon could de­sign and build the new site. Some snip­pets from the new site are pro­vided be­low.

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One com­mon theme through­out the new site is the use of im­agery and videos to il­lus­trate some of the tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tions. The prod­uct it­self is com­plex, so videos and graph­ics were cho­sen as a way of break­ing down that com­plex­ity for the av­er­age vis­i­tor.

The CMS was setup to al­low the clients to con­fig­ure the down­loads avail­able, pro­jects dis­played and FAQs. It’s de­signed to be a scal­able so­lu­tion that does­n’t rely on WorkingMouse as the de­vel­op­ers to make triv­ial changes.

To view the mar­ket­ing site we de­liv­ered, head to https://​ap­tus.sys­tems/

Our learn­ings

1. Have the con­tent ready be­fore build­ing!

Perhaps the biggest learn­ing we made is that it is es­sen­tial to have the con­tent so­lid­i­fied be­fore any de­vel­op­ment is done. We dis­cov­ered it’s the equiv­a­lent of build­ing soft­ware with­out scop­ing - you just should­n’t do it.

Some peo­ple pre­fer to see a de­sign and then write the con­tent. Others pre­fer for the de­sign to be cre­ated af­ter the con­tent’s been cre­ated. This does­n’t make a huge dif­fer­ence. The im­por­tant learn­ing is that all changes hap­pen on the pro­to­type and not on the live site.

2. UATs are al­ways needed

With such a fluid pro­ject, that was in com­par­i­son to ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment, sig­nif­i­cantly less com­plex, our ini­tial as­sump­tion was that user ac­cep­tance test­ing may not be re­quired. Towards the end of the pro­ject we re­alised this as­sump­tion was not cor­rect.

They have a slightly dif­fer­ent pur­pose but act as a great way of en­sur­ing that de­liv­ery matches ex­pec­ta­tion on a fea­ture level.

3. Upskill fur­ther in Liquid/Javascript

While the pro­ject could be de­liv­ered by a prod­uct suc­cess team mem­ber, we dis­cov­ered that fur­ther train­ing in cer­tain ar­eas (namely, Liquid and Javascript) would im­prove the process go­ing for­ward.

4. There may not be a one size fits all when it comes to tech­nol­ogy

While Netlify CMS al­lowed us to de­liver the Aptus site suc­cess­fully it was clear that it was lack­ing func­tion­al­ity in cer­tain ar­eas. There are many CMS in the mar­ket, each with their own strengths and weak­nesses. The re­quire­ments and con­fig­ura­bil­ity of each pro­ject may im­pact the CMS cho­sen.

5. Define a sin­gle prod­uct owner

This is some­thing we’ve stressed the im­por­tance of in a num­ber of pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles re­gard­ing prod­uct own­er­ship. When there is no sin­gle source of truth it cre­ates a layer of am­bi­gu­ity that dis­rupts the pro­ject flow. This should­n’t be mis­con­strued as only hav­ing 1 per­son in­volved in the pro­ject. Naturally, there’ll be many stake­hold­ers af­fected by the suc­cess of the pro­ject. The dif­fer­ence is chan­nel­ing the opin­ions of the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers through a sin­gle prod­uct owner. It cre­ates a much more stream­lined de­ci­sion mak­ing process.

Expanding our of­fer­ing

As men­tioned ear­lier, this ex­per­i­ment was run to un­der­stand the vi­a­bil­ity of adding mar­ket­ing sites to WorkingMouse’s of­fer­ing. The suc­cess of the pro­ject has val­i­dated de­liv­er­ing more mar­ket­ing sites in the fu­ture. However, that only ex­tends to ex­ist­ing en­gage­ments. For ex­am­ple, clients want­ing a mar­ket­ing site to com­pli­ment a web or mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion can ben­e­fit from the ex­panded of­fer­ing.

If this ap­plies to you, please get in con­tact. We’d love to dis­cuss fur­ther.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yianni Stergou

Marketing en­thu­si­ast and FIFA ex­tra­or­di­naire

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