An entirely bespoke development to handle UK-wide trade sales via the website.
Kandy Toys is one of the UK’s leading importers of toys, beach goods, pools and gifts, with clients that cover the whole of Britain. Customers don’t buy by the box, they buy by the pallet. The site was created for their existing customers to complete repeat orders online easily and quickly.
Tackling a large overhaul like this requires a lot of collaboration at the start. You can’t just meet up, talk the project through, submit a quote and take it from there. Bespoke large scale developments have to be split into 2 main tranches of work: the creation of a System Specification Document and then the Website and Development Phase.
System Specification Stage
In order to provide a costing framework, and to ensure the delivery of the project was managed on a sustainable basis, we undertook a detailed specification exercise. An initial workshop was attended by all stakeholders in order to gather as many requirements as possible. These were broken down into front-end and back-end developments.
The output from the initial workshop created the functional specification, field definition and outline wireframes of key forms for input and output, with storyboards for the whole end-to-end process.
This was followed by a second workshop where the initial drafts were presented and refined. The document was refined again and then a final workshop reviewed it and signed it off. The final document included data schema, form outlines, data specification, functional workflow and site map.
Website & Development Phase
We undertook an agile approach to project development and agreed a schedule of monthly deliverables. This ensured a rolling set of deliverables rather than waiting for a big unveiling that may or may not meet the requirements. The scope of the project was broken down as follows:
- Provide an outline of the online process
- Provide a breakdown of the core ordering options and functionality
- Provide an initial estimate of costs
- Identify key deliverables
The system we then developed was a mixture of relatively standard ecommerce functions along with bespoke interventions at key decision points. The system had to be easy to use by the customer, and now has the flexibility to be extended and adapted.
Laravel v Magento
We looked at the possibilities and feasibility of using an off-the-shelf system like Magento, but felt it would impose too many constraints on the development of the bespoke elements of the site and that these constraints outweighed the benefits of working within a known and trusted framework.
Although the core of the site is built around standard ecommerce functionality (categories, products, shopping baskets, customer accounts etc.) there are a number of areas which were unique to Kandy Toys. For example – unique pricing structure, delivery variables, minimum order values against weight and fragile elements, csv feeds and pro-forma payment capabilities for both online and offline orders. This lead us to the conclusion that a bespoke approach would produce the best output. So we developed the site functionality using a Laravel PHP framework which helped us to develop the site quicker and provided a core set of functions that can be incorporated into the development. It means that the system could be built to meet Kandy Toys’ requirements precisely without the need to compromise on functionality.
Following our outline storyboards from the specification phase, we produced a series of wireframes of all of the main pages in the site as well as layouts for the administrative functions as well. Once the overall design concepts were approved we produced HTML prototypes of the core pages so that active functionality (rollovers, expansions, transitions etc.) could be seen, reviewed and approved before the core development work started.
We completed the development of the underlying database, integrations and functions after agreement of the front-end designs, so that there was no disconnect between the visual deliverables, with each element reviewed and approved rather than waiting for a full completion before review.
We managed all developments through a series of formal releases for review once internal testing and checking had been completed. This allowed for clear version control over deployment of code which will help to reduce the likelihood of errors.
The front-end styling and development of the site took place in tandem with the back end functionality and focussed on delivering the site in a responsive manner across the widest range of devices.
Project Management and QA
As with all projects here at Daneswood we develop we had our Digital Project Manager overseeing the work, who arranged the regular review meetings and kept the client up-to-date on progress and milestones as well as agreeing any changes in priority or deadlines. Testing was undertaken at all stages in the project to ensure the site functions accorded to the agreed specification and design and met our internal standards.
When Kandy Toys first approached us, they had already used other web developers but had been unsuccessful. They had also already engaged someone to tackle the website, but the scale of the offering proved too much for them and an ill thought out development halted and finally stopped the project. Kandy Toys were therefore quite demoralised when they went out yet again to find a web partner locally to deliver their new client facing website. We are so pleased to have them on our portfolio and to have approached this development in bite sized and well planned phases as we did. We continue to work with Kandy Toys, maintaining the site whenever required and supporting them with their growing online business.