Approach to Application Development
The project life-cycle implemented by Simply Bits has been designed to clearly define the customer's expectations and address risks early in the development process. Experience has shown that a formal process reduces overall development time and results in a lower total cost of ownership. This process model works for projects of all sizes. For small and some medium sized projects, some of the steps can be combined or abbreviated. The following is a brief description of each phase of the cycle.
Current System Assessment
Before Simply Bits starts any redesign or rebuild of an existing website or application, we like to first review what has been done in the past to see what was done well and what fell short. Simply Bits performs a complete website assessment looking at four distinct dimensions: User Experience, Supportability, Marketability and Competitive Analysis.
- User Experience Assessment is a review of the site from a customer’s point of view. We review how easy the site is to navigate, what content is available, and the overall feel presented to visitors. In addition to assessing the message, we also look at functional features, errors, and how errors are handled.
- Supportability Assessment is a review of the site from an administrative point of view. We review how the pages are constructed from a technical standpoint and how difficult it is for content administrators to make simple updates to the site.
- Marketability Assessment is a review of the site content from a search engine optimization and marketing standpoint. We do a detailed review to see how compliant the site is with standard SEO guidelines from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. We also review what reporting is available by examining existing web logs, current site usage, and site-ranking.
- Competitive Analysis is a review of other websites in your market. We compare everything from the overall look of competing sites, to what content and resources they provide and how they rank in search engines.
Once these assessments are complete, we meet with the customer to discuss the results and identify implications to the future needs and additional requirements for the site.
By its very nature, a website is not a static collection of information. Instead, it is a living representation of your organization. As your business grows and changes, so too will the needs of your website. Simply Bits understands this principle and expects system requirements to change over time.
As we work through the requirements and design phases of a project, we have multiple “brainstorming” meetings with key client personnel. These sessions allow us to clearly define project requirements and create action item lists to ensure that a project meets its intended objectives. The result of these meetings and reviews is a requirements document and a project plan for implementation.
Design and Development
The graphic design of the site is independent of the technology and can proceed on a parallel course to the development of site functionality. The site framework ties together the design, content and the site functionality. This efficient process allows sites to be developed more quickly and easily. The proper framework also allows the “essence” of the site to be available more quickly so that it can be reviewed and refined as development continues.
Unit testing is typically done as each module is completed in the development phase. At the end of development before each release, a tester completes a formal walk-through of the entire test specification and provides modification to the application where appropriate. This will be done by Simply Bits testers and then verified by the customer.
The deployment is a staged roll-out of the new application. This involves installation and initial training and may also involve hardware and network upgrades.
Support and Warranty
The support and warranty of the project is the last component, and it continues as long as a warranty, extended warranty or support contract is in place. During this time, the system is used in a production environment. Any training or usability issues are addressed and any reported bugs are fixed.