How do you build a great web site? 5 years of delivering open source solutions has allowed us to perfect our development process, giving us the ability to deliver outstanding results time and time again.
Let's face it, web development can be a tricky business, and people do not always know what they want until they see it. Trellon's process for engagement is designed to ensure quality outcomes each and every time we work with a client. Drawing from best practices in various agile development and design & communications methodologies, the way we work maximizes the transparency around building your web project so you know what you are getting long before it is delivered.
Kickoff and Discovery
At Trellon, we strive to be technology partners that care about your success and understand the unique challenges you will face. Each time we engage with a client, we work closely together to define the goals of your web strategy, create products that help you achieve them, and deliver sustainable solutions that meet or exceed your expectations and can be built on over time.
Our development process begins with the Kickoff and Discovery phase. Every Trellon project has a dedicated project manager, technical lead and Internet strategist, and you meet them up front so the right people know who to talk to as we move forward. We conduct an in-depth kickoff meeting, to review the project at a high level and go over any details that require additional clarification. This allows both sides to explore ideas for what we want to achieve, how we are going to get there, and where we are going to be at certain points in the project.
Our goal is to establish a common vision on both sides that reflects the composition for the final product. We explore ideas with you about the purpose of the project, the visual identity, and how the technology and visual design will interoperate. We go through different navigation structures to detail the user experience, and draw up site maps and wireframes to help visualize different aspects of the system. Key deliverables for this phase include a project plan that explains timelines and deliverables, exchanging assets for design or data import, contacting third parties who are important to the development process, and setup of the initial project site on our development servers.
One challenge to working with open source products is the fact they tend to be designed to meet a very general set of requirements. Our Product Customization phase is designed to take the same open source platforms everyone else is using and build out or configure the features that make it your own. Customization, in this case, does not necessarily mean we are modifying code, but that we are determining what features can be used to support your project and whether there are new components we need to build.
This phase begins when we install and configure the system on our servers. For Drupal projects, Trellon engages in our 100-point Drupal Core Configuration process, designed to ensure no aspect of the system is overlooked in our initial configuration and the best features available are present in your site when it is delivered. For CiviCRM and other technologies, our customization phase involves a similar set of setup processes, more tailored to the unique nature of the system involved. For CiviCRM installations, our team is chiefly concerned with the processes it is implemented to support, configuring custom field types, ensuring backend tools like payment gateways are properly configured, and configuration of groups and tags to support custom searches. For Facebook Applications, our team is more concerned with the operations of individual pages, the way they interact with user profiles, and the way data collected from Facebook is handled.
The key deliverable from our Product Customization phase is an initial implementation of a properly configured web application, installed on Trellon servers, which you can begin working with right away. Our team initiates a series of weekly meetings in this phase, where we review process with you on various aspects of the system. You can also expect to have access to our online project management systems, to track progress in real time and participate in the project by sharing ideas with our staff.
With a core configuration in place, Trellon begins our Implementation phase, where we begin putting together your project. We go from a state where all of the tools and components you will need are in place to build out the final, finished site. At this stage, our team focuses on user interface, navigation, page configuration, workflow and usability concerns, along with interoperability with external systems. We also finalize our plans for data import, page composition and other salient features of the system.
Our Implementation phase is all about iterations. We release a series of rapid iterations of your final product, each one featuring new tools and components for your review as we come closer to having a finished system. Trellon’s team works with you closely to understand what we have implemented, how to use it, and whether or not it can be improved as we go forward. We do this through weekly (and sometimes daily) check-ins with your team where we explain what has been accomplished, instruct you on how to use it, and review any outstanding issues with the project. We continue performing these iterations until the project is complete, and they provide you with the opportunity to provide feedback while development is underway and guide the process in the manner that best suits your needs as a client.
With each new release, our team tests new features on the site. Trellon performs unit testing for each major component, functional testing to ensure features work as expected, and user acceptance testing with your team to ensure all reasonable expectations have been met. Our developers perform usability testing on the site to ensure it is compatible with all major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera on all major platforms. For mobile sites and widgets, our team examines how the site operates on other devices using emulation devices for most major mobile phones and platforms. When we know there is going to be a lot of traffic, Trellon tests the scalability of your site using standard benchmarking tools against a set of best practices for high traffic sites and identifies any potential bottlenecks that may occur before deploying to production servers.
The final stage of a Trellon project is deployment. Every project is unique in terms of how it needs to be set up, and issues can range from the types of servers being used, the presence of a CDN, special configurations for installed modules, firewall access rules, the need for training for end users and administrations, and so on. Trellon constructs a unique deployment plan for each site we build that takes into account all of the details to make sure the launch goes smoothly. Our systems architects examine the production hosting environment to ensure it is ready and alert you to any major obstacles to putting your site on your servers. We alert you to anything we notice (and often do notice things you might not have thought of) and provide support on getting the site set up.
Once all testing is complete and it comes time for launch, Trellon is there for you. Our staff schedules time on the days around launch to work with your team to resolve any hosting issues. In cases where there is going to be a rollover from existing web services, Trellon’s team is monitoring the rollover to watch for potential issues we may be aware of as a result of building the site. As opposed to people who simply hand over code and expect you to resolve your own issues, we are there to help with whatever issues may arise.
A Trellon project is not complete once it is delivered. We strive to ensure customer satisfaction at every level and don’t feel good about a project unless you feel great. Expect to hear from our team in the days after the launch to find out how things are going and if there are any issues that need to be addressed. We are always around to discuss new ideas about subsequent phases to help you get the most out of your project. Ad-hoc development hours are available on request on an hourly basis, allowing you to control the cost of development. Support channels include email, telephone, and IRC, and we are typically available 24 x 7.
You can expect to hear from us for the first 12 months after your project is deployed whenever a critical security issue arises that impacts the technologies used in your site. Our team is constantly watching out for weaknesses in the systems we work with and alerting our clients of events as they occur. Trellon regularly issues announcements to our clients about security events when new patches are released, and the best practices we follow for development ensure the process for updating your site will be simple and effective.