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.
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.
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.
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 FAQ's. 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/
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. UAT's 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.
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.