Our client is a social network site with a specific audience and message. Early versions of the site had shown success with an active audience in the 10s of thousands of users and major media mentions. However the interaction was too limited to continue the growth. The site was mostly just a large forum, and members were asking for a lot more.
At that point development hit a roadblock. The forum had been relatively easy to build using existing software - taking nearly a year from start to finish. But the new needs included specialized ways of finding friends as well as things such as sharing journals and “thoughts of the day” to create interaction focused around the site’s message.
The original developers hadn’t been able to move past the forum so new developers were brought in. However this turned into a long and expensive journey. In spite of an original 6-week deadline, the new project went on for nearly 9 months. The contract created major cost overruns and in the end the site was still unusable due to all the errors. The difficulty of getting these new features in place led to inactivity on the original site and members started to leave.
When we came in the site needed to be revived quickly to take advantage of the initial interest. In October we reviewed the past versions of the site as well as the new demands from members, and suggested a package of features that would create a much better experience for members. In doing this we built on some ideas that would be important to the member experience while cutting back other requests that weren’t likely to make a difference.
In November we started building the new site. With weekly reviews to present the new changes we had made and talk about feedback to guide the rest of the process, we quickly put all the functionality in place. During the process we created a unique and attractive design for the new structure. At the start of January the first users we able to enter the site and in February the site officially launched.
The new version of the site led to additional international recognition for the business, participation in startup showcases and mentorship programs, and the discovery of a new and larger market related to the original one.
This marked a rapid shift in the business – from a limited site that wasn’t able to add specialized features over a two-year period, to the quick launch of a full new site. Our development process took the client from long delays – where a project officially scheduled for 2 months could take over a year to complete – to rapid deployment where we incorporated new ideas along the way without going over the initial schedule.
In the highly competitive world of online business, you don’t necessarily need to be the first to reach the goal line to win. But if you don’t move quickly you will be left behind. Only the right combination of skills, process, and focused effort will put you ahead and win you a bigger market share.
Where could your business go with this kind of approach? Talk to us today to find out!