Building a New Acquia.com
This project is a first of its kind for the PS team because instead of working with external clients, we are providing project support and consultation to our colleagues. However, throughout the project we’ve maintained the tried-and-true approach that we provide to every customer. With this in mind, I wanted to share a few of the key takeaways we’ve uncovered thus far:
Don’t cut corners on discovery
Professional Services kicked off the project by leading a planning session with the Acquia marketing team. This session allowed Professional Services to provide program and technical leadership that will influence the direction of implementation. The purpose of this is to ensure a successful transition when the Acquia’s marketing team takes over the new site.
The session's goal was to narrow in on high level goals and objectives for the project. One of the primary objectives of the new site is to present a new user experience to our visitors. In addition, we wanted the content to reach beyond developers and speak to a digital marketing communications audience. It became clear in the planning session that Acquia’s marketing team should bring on an outside UX design partner to chart a new visual direction for the website. Professional Services participated in the evaluation and selection of a design partner. In partnership with Acquia’s marketing team, we landed on Huge.
Having a thorough discovery period and planning session enabled Professional Services to determine what the Acquia marketing team required to be successful. By understanding their goals and challenges, we were able to make recommendations that will minimize project risk and improve project outcomes.
Prioritize key features and functionality for MVP
In parallel to selecting a design partner, we began to lay out a timeline and schedule to deliver a MVP for the new Acquia.com. Based on discussions during the planning sessions we were able to estimate the effort required to deliver the key features and functionality desired. Additional discovery time was planned to validate requirements with new designs prior to starting development.
For the redesign of Acquia.com, the team is prioritizing the following features for MVP:
- Upgrade to Drupal 8 with a new and modern UX
- A revamped information architecture that better shows off Acquia and our products and services
- Enhanced personalization of case studies with Lift so we can present the right content at the right time to potential customers
- An updated administrative interface to make content publishing and site maintenance more efficient
- A tool that helps customers determine the Acquia products they need that will also help generate leads for the sales team.
Bring Professional Services in early
With a timeline laid out, we assembled a PS Delivery Team composed of a Program Lead, Technical Program Lead, Program Manager, Technical Architect, Front-end Developers and Back-end Developers. The PS Delivery Team will take the UX designs created by HUGE and translate them into a fully functional Drupal application.
In the redesign of Acquia.com, Professional Services is an active participant in the creative process as we provide consultation on the complexity of implementing design directions. We attend all the regular creative meetings with the Huge and the Acquia marketing team so that we can provide feedback in real time.
Establishing clear communication between HUGE's design team and Acquia’s Professional Services from the start is important because this project calls for an aggressive timeline. This is particularly challenging due to the "just in time" delivery of the UX to the development team. In a typical implementation, the UX for the whole site would be mostly complete and approved. In this instance, we have set a tight timeline for launch that requires the PS Delivery Team to develop without completed designs. This requires careful coordination by the Program Manager and Technical Architect with Huge to ensure development work done is inline with the creative direction being approved by the Acquia marketing team.
Involving Professional Services in the early stages of the project will also allow us to build a site that best fulfills the marketing team’s use cases. For example, leveraging Acquia Lift is a big priority for the new site. By understanding the marketing team’s goals for Acquia Lift, Professional Services can recommend best practices that will fulfill the site’s personalization needs.
We are currently in the fourth of 5 two-week sprints. The PS Delivery team has made excellent progress translating HUGE's UX direction into a fully functioning Drupal 8 site. As with any project there have been changes in project scope and prioritization. Because we are developing using an agile process the team is able to adjust on the fly. We keep the Marketing team informed of the impact of their changes and provide different options to the approach. We're on track to deliver the MVP to the marketing team later this fall.