Creating an efficient business process
We can help with your digital business process and ensure that it’s running to its maximum efficiency, and not wasting vital administration time and effort. We have undertaken a lot of bespoke website development, and have invested heavily in this area of our business, with in-house developers who love nothing better than coding a website from scratch.
We can help with:
- Bespoke front-end development
- Bespoke back-end development
- Bespoke administration
- Bespoke system integration
How our bespoke process works
In order to undertake a bespoke project, we believe that a detailed process review is the fundamental element required to provide a platform for delivery. We follow these key process stages:
- Site Review & Recommendation
Firstly we make sure that a bespoke approach will produce the best output for you. We undertake an initial analysis of your requirements and look at the possibilities and feasibility of incorporating off-the-shelf systems like Magento (if eCommerce) or WordPress for example. If we feel these will impose too many constraints and compromises, and that these constraints outweigh the benefits of working within a known and trusted framework, then we advise you accordingly.
We normally develop site functionality using a PHP framework such as Laravel or Symfony. These frameworks help us to develop a site quicker and will provide a core set of functions that can be incorporated into the development. It means that a system can be built to meet our client’s requirements precisely, without the need to compromise on functionality.
- Set of Requirements
The next step is to establish a detailed and agreed set of requirements. Whereas with an off-the-shelf system, a lot of functionality can be taken for granted, with a bespoke system it is important to have a common understanding of all aspects of the site both from the front-end and back-end.
In order to provide a framework for costing, and to ensure the delivery of the project is managed on a sustainable basis, we undertake a detailed specification exercise. This normally takes the form of an initial workshop with all stakeholders in order to gather as many requirements as possible. These will be broken down into front end and back-end developments.
The output from the initial workshop will be synthesized into functional specification, field definition and outline wireframes of key forms for input and output with storyboards for the whole end-to-end process.
This will be followed by a second workshop where the initial draft is presented and refined. Once the document has been refined there may need to be a final workshop to review and sign this off with any amendments required. The final document should include a data schema, form outlines, data specification, functional workflow and site map.
The output from this phase of the project will be used to provide a detailed cost proposal for the development of the site and underlying administration functions.
The design of the site is going to be critical to its success and we will pay particular attention to the user experience as part of the development. Following the outline storyboards from the requirements phase, we will produce a series of wireframes of all of the main pages in the site as well as layouts for the administrative functions as well. We will also produce a set of style guidelines for the brand to include fonts, logos, icons, text styles etc.
Once these have been reviewed, amended and approved we will produce detailed designs for all of the core pages in the site which we’ll share with you. This will include the main desktop views of the site pages as well as mobile and tablet views of the key pages.
Once the overall design concepts have been approved we will produce HTML prototypes of the core pages so that active functionality (rollovers, expansions, transitions etc.) can be seen, reviewed and approved before the core development work is undertaken.
- Back-end Development
The development of the underlying database, integrations and functions will commence on agreement of the front-end designs so that there is no disconnect between the visual deliverables, with each element reviewed and approved rather than waiting for a full completion before review.
We will manage all developments through a series of formal releases for review once internal testing and checking have been completed. This will allow for clear version control over deployment of code which will help to reduce the likelihood of errors.
- Front-end Development
The front end styling and development of the site will take place in tandem with the back-end functionality and will focus on delivering the site in a responsive manner across the widest range of devices.
- Project Management and QA
The project will be managed by our dedicated in-house Digital Project manager, who arranges for regular review meetings with the client and keeps them up-to-date on progress and milestones, as well as agreeing any changes in priority or deadlines. Testing will be undertaken at all stages in the project to ensure the site functions according to the agreed specification and design and meets our internal standards.
Costing Fixed Price or Agile Development
Our experience of working on bespoke projects sometimes leads us to the conclusion that a more agile approach to project development is better than working on a traditional ‘waterfall’ principle against a fixed price. Fixed price contracts are rarely beneficial to either the client or the developer. You will not want to be constrained by a fixed specification that doesn’t allow for any flexibility, and developers can get stuck in a development that is fixed by price. Conversely, you won’t want to enter into an open ended contract where all the risk lies with you.
We offer an outline price for design and development (based on clear ‘from’ and ‘to’ price parameters), based on the information we have to hand, and this is then refined once a specification has been agreed. Once development is under way we will agree a schedule of weekly or monthly deliverables and the client will pay for the time we spend on the agreed deliverables. This ensures a rolling set of deliverables rather than waiting for a big unveiling that may or may not meet the requirements.
We also help with the little things
Sometimes a client doesn’t need a bespoke response to their entire website. We often undertake small bespoke projects, such as:
When a plugin just won’t do – ‘Off-the shelf’ plugins can be quick and useful, but only if they match the exact functionality that you require. Often they don’t, and you end up having to compromise, which is at odds with your business process and admin time. We are regularly asked to code from scratch all the functions that a client needs for: registration, application form, course booking etc. so they don’t have to compromise any longer with inadequate plugin functionality.
Moving away from 3rd party software – We often speak to clients who rely heavily on third party software that they rent but do not own and we help move them onto their own bespoke system. Clients can feel locked into the existing provider and have little control over the development and functionality of the underlying process on their website. We can redevelop this aspect of a site to give you complete control over your business software and move you away from a ‘software as a service’ model. The initial capital outlay in bespoke development, is recouped by no longer paying ongoing fees to the 3rd party software.