Malvern Blog Series Part 4: The usual state of affairs


I think it is important with a blog series to depict real-time change. It occurred to me when coming to write this next post that I have not given you a week-to-week example of what working on a project of this size is like, so for this blog post, I will be considering a fortnight’s worth of project development, including two conference calls.

In a previous post for this series, I spoke about the need for trust between two companies who embark on a developer project, and this gets exciting when the design stages come to fruition.

Once a client can see their ideas start to take a physical shape, it becomes much easier for them to add new features and ideas, and this can be both of benefit and a challenge to project scope. 

On the one hand, it helps the developer when the client is vocal about what they like and dislike; the vaguer the brief, the harder it is for them to produce what you want, so being able to communicate any new concepts to the designer is always a good thing. However, it can also highlight the disconnect with technical knowledge on the side of the client, and so the difficulty for the developers to produce their eCommerce platform to the same timeframe.

For this relationship to work, there needs to be a ‘trust of provision’ relationship, meaning you both trust one another to uphold their end of the bargain. That’s where we pick up the Malvern project; after the all-important first meeting and as the designs start to roll in, how does the co-operation change?

Fine-tuning

When we last left Malvern , they were in desperate need of an internal meeting. After showing them the initial designs, they were happy with the way it was coming together, but clearly needed some time to determine the exact content they were going to include as well as the configuration of some key elements, such as the menu display and images used. This next conference call was to confirm whether or not those decisions had been made, and to establish how we could move forward from this point. 

Once you reach this fine-tuning stage, it all comes down to the product selection, search results definition and the precision at which these are carried out. In Malvern’s case, as with many others, each search result needs to go to a corresponding landing page depending on the number of letters entered, the filtering and so on, so the design of these pages and which items they want to appear prominent are all details which need to be ironed out at this stage.

Technical roadmaps are great to put across to companies, as clients will often continue to add ideas into the mix long after the design stages have been left behind. With our solution, all needs are catered for and it just depends upon time, which can vary based on how complicated a change it is they want to make and how far down the line we are in building the project. There were certain additions to the site which Malvern felt were important to include, but they were unaware of the added time this would put onto the project. 

For the coming week, though, we had very clear terms set out for what Malvern needed to send across to us:
• Definition of the full site hierarchy, including all categories and any sub categories
• Product content
• The site URLs/SSL certificates, once they have been purchased and specified
• All static content with an idea of marketing text 

While they were sending us this, we agreed to continue with the design of the account and checkout pages, while starting the hardware configuration and page builds.

Your end of the bargain

So, fast-forward a week and did we both hold up our ends of the bargain? Sometimes such an answer isn’t so straight forward. We were sent the hierarchy definitions, product content and other static content, but not all of this could be completed in time. Understandably with a company as large as Malvern , content as important as this often needs the permission of several people who may or may not be available at the same time to sign-off all content, but this sort of delay is very minor. With our intention to start building on Monday now that we have so much of the content in, we have adjusted the project plan and milestones between us – which can happen with such enormous projects.

Such a relationship is all about give, take and what I described earlier as the ‘trust of provision’ concept. Productive exchanges can be difficult to achieve when there is an issue with miscommunication, delays from unforeseen circumstances or simple human error, which is why trying to limit these discrepancies as much as possible is so vital to maintaining that level of trust.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to get around issues like those above, and you have to remind yourself that not everything is a quick fix, and if certain milestones are moved, you must continually strive to communicate effectively.

The project continues.

Click here and read "Part 5: Conference demos" right now!