Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How we manage the future

Testing for every browser is a costly and time consuming excercise and I have put a lot of thought into how we get the best result for our clients and their customers while keeping the cost under a million dollars . Heres what we do ....

We manage  future bowser version compatability by developing using the W3C guidelines for world wide web standards

We manage browser compatibility by testing to the following browsers:

          * Internet Explorer(IE) 6, 7 & 8
          * Firefox 2 & 3
          * Safari - Mac & iPhone
          * Chrome

Roughly 60% of the market (Net Applications via Wikipedia) is using IE. IE6 & IE7 do not fully support the world wide web standards so we sometimes go away from the standards in order to make things work in IE, which is the major web browser. Of course we check everything works fine in the other browsers at the time, but new browsers and new versions of the browsers can be, and will be, realeased after we have delivered the project.

When new browser versions are released we check that our Nautilus software works in the new release but not custom built software.

How to grow your Twitter following

Here are 5 ideas for growing your following on your business Twitter account:

  • Post your Twitter link/username everywhere - website, email signature, blog etc
  • Retweet great, appropriate tweets
  • Respect your followers - don't flood them with sales messages
  • Follow users you have something in common with
  • Remember you are a professional - don't tweet your personal life on your business account

Monday, June 21, 2010

Collaboration Success

The latest consultant site delivered by Spiral also involved collaboration and working with a branding expert.
Working with other people and organisations to bring you the best possible result is something we are very practiced at and we very proud of our achievements in this area.  We have numerous examples of successful collaborations. To date they include:

  • SME's who have a great relationship with their graphic designer where the designer has primarily been working on print collateral and they now want to upgrade their website. As software developers, who also do some design, we are well placed to interpret the visuals and build the website or newsletter template.
  • Historic Places Trust. This project, implemented late in 2009 was a collaboration between Historic Places internal marketing department who wrote all content for the new site, Datacom who supplied the content management software and Spiral who supplied the database and web programming plus detailed visual design elements based on pre-existing concepts. 
  • New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB). NZRAB have a database of all the architects registered in New Zealand. This information is shared with the public via the NZRAB website and via web services with the NZIA who manage architects professional development. Spiral is responsible for the technical management of this database and collaborates with the technical team at NZIA to enable secure sharing of some information and passwords across the two sites.
My tips for working with others are:
  1. Leave your ego at the door
  2. No-one likes to be left out - Include everyone in the communication
  3. Have well planned a strategic meetings when needed, distribute the notes to all involved
  4. Be honest and speak with kindness
  5. Speak up and if the group decides against your recommendation, get over it - see tip #1
If you have ever watched a team of Husky dogs pulling a sled you will note that it only works if they all work together - it becomes a tangle if one dog says "Oh, I think we should go this way today!"

Sustainability Update - Congratulations Cain

Being sustainable means several things to us,  its not just about the environment! A sustainable business offers products and services that fulfil society's needs while placing an equal emphasis on people, planet and profits.
Cain recently published code he developed for the new version of Nautilus, to the open source community. This is part of our commitment to people in the community, in this case the world wide programming community.  The user control Cain developed, which is part of the code in Nautilus used to resize images and create thumbnails, was downloaded 4 times within 2 weeks of being posted.
If you know anyone into .NET programming and code bashing then send them the link - http://thumbnailcreator.codeplex.com/

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Good enough becomes awesome

Theres an old saying that good enough is good enough - it's really a comment on delivery and meeting deadlines. As a team we are constantly delivering to deadlines, both ours and our clients, and we know what excellent is so we always strive for excellence - trouble is, the web changes every day and what was excellent today may only be "good enough" tomorrow.
If we look at that project thats been on your desk (or inbox) for weeks, it would appear to be nearly finished, maybe you want to do a few final tweaks to it, maybe you will get it QA'd (Quality Assurance tested) just one more time, is the spelling all correct etc, etc. The question is, deliver it now or wait until it 110% awesome?

Delivering now doesn't mean it wont ever be awesome. Even Apple delivers on "good enough" - who remembers the first iPods?  The first generation of iPods had some issues but Apple sold truckloads because they were good enough to be awesome. They keep improving them and iPods are still awesome.

You can deliver now on your website or software app. and keep improving it too. Each day you say "Lets wait until we have the ... finished" is another day you put off the launch of your project.

You know that tomorrow you are going to think of a better way to do something, say something or display something. Its a given, the big question is are you brave enough to launch as you are - is it good enough to launch - can your project be delivered now?

This week we launched our new profiles pages. We know from our web stats that these pages are looked at a lot. I surmise that people are checking us out before they work with us, so they are pretty important pages on our website. The deadline for delivery was the end of May. The pages were delivered with some photos missing and two quotes missing - was this going to lose us business? I wouldn't think so. Were the pages complete and fabulous? nearly, they were good enough. Should I have waited until they were complete? Whats complete? Each day brings new information and new ideas to add to our projects. One of the joys of the web is its ability to embrace change - I can update my website everyday if I have time. So can you!

Which brings me full circle to what projects have you got that are just waiting for that final 5% before they are delivered? Can you deliver them now and make changes next week when you have more information. If we are talking about webpages or software applications, consider what can be delivered now:
  • if its a webpage/s:
    • look at the webstats after its launched and make adjustments based on whats popular
    • get a friend or colleague to give you feedback and make adjustments
    • watch people using your pages and make adjustments
  • if its software:
    • pretend you are a user and find out how hard it is to use
    • try it on different computers and make adjustments
    • ask a friend to try it and make adjustments
Get away from your ego, launch now and good enough project is on its way to becoming awesome.