Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

Content Entry and Quality Assurance



Integration is QA


Internally, we call content entry "integration." This term works on a number of levels- the integration of content in to a functional system, as well as the integration of our clients into the working process in more significant and real way.

While we have several specific Quality Assurance (QA) steps in our process, as any development company should, I believe that content entry is one of the most effective and important QA efforts for any project. Typically, this is the point in the process when our clients are able to fully experience the reality of their site for the first time. While they have worked closely with our team on prototyping and designing the site, the process of actually creating content and then using the content management system to enter it is when all the "dots" are connected and made real, and often the first point at which expectations are clarified. You see, no matter how thorough a prototype is, sometimes there are concepts or needs that cannot be communicated until you are immersed in an actual working and producing environment.

This is similar to the "blank-slate-shopper" phenomenon: Have you ever seen a review of a book and thought that you'd like to purchase it, only to find that the next time you are actually in a bookstore you have no idea what you want or where to start? This is because we tend towards reactive rather than proactive thinking. We hear about something and react to it with, "Yes, I'd like to read that," yet when we get to the store and are surrounded by thousands of books, we react to them all by loosing focus. (Of course, if we had drawn up a list in advance, we'd be in good shape!) While we find the prototyping phase, being a proactive step, to be extremely effective and critical to our process, we use subsequent rounds of QA to catch any results of reactive thinking during a project and know that the process of content entry will also do the same.

QA does not ensure that a project will be 100% bug free. While some bugs are due to sloppiness or haste and can be prevented by thorough QA steps, others are the result of unforeseen functionality conflicts that may not become evident until a site is being used, despite the best intentions and foresight of the programmers. As with any development project, bugs like these should be expected and encountered with patience (this goes for us just as much as our clients). While we hope that our many stages of QA will mitigate the frequency of any bugs occurring, we are definitely not surprised when they show up.

Once we've gotten to a point of resolution with integration and QA, we can finally reach the finish line and go live!

Some Encouragement


In my first newsletter, You're Using RSS Now...Right?, I concluded by saying that "Though this all may seem very daunting, it's also going to be fun." I was talking specifically about keeping up with information overload using RSS, but I think I could make the same conclusion here, too.

A huge amount of work goes in to a web-development project, but not in vain! Aside from the return our clients expect on their investment, a well conceived and successful project will instill a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in all those who are involved. It will also be a learning process, involving getting up to speed on business, technical and relational issues for everyone involved. In fact, our experience has been that during this intensive process, we also get to know and form bonds with our clients that lead to strong, productive and successful working relationships for a long time to come after the initial project is complete.

Comments

David Steinkamp | September 9, 2010 1:50 PM
Hey Chris, I just read your interesting article and started thinking about the pros and cons of outsourcing the SEO issue. The client has more time to concentrate to deliver great content to the web and can profit from a seo agency or something because they are even more specialized. But if you hire someone for making the marketing part you have additional cost which have to be earned with the project and you give away a very sensitive field of your webproject. Not an easy decision, but a good cost/use analysis could tell us the most logical way.

Bye the way, really nice and interesting page, keep working on this one.

Regards, David
Alice Cooper | May 22, 2009 6:03 AM
Hi Chris, thanks for the feed back, will have to check out your suggestion of 'high rankings'.
Willem Bannock | May 14, 2009 8:09 AM
In a former incarnation it was my job to perform QA on all the software we built. It was especially important for the Help Desk as they had less exposure to irate clients. Funny that I don't do much of it now that we are creating sites for the web. Should get back to it really. Anyway, thanks for the kick in the pants.
Christopher Butler | September 4, 2008 7:32 AM
Alice,

You are right about that! We recommend that our client allocate significant internal resources, not just toward managing web content but also specifically for analytics and SEO maintenance. We also frequently recommend our friends at High Rankings for outside expert SEO consultation.

Thanks for reading,

Chris
Alice Cooper | September 3, 2008 1:38 AM
To keep a website current and in the rankings these days is becoming a real professionals job, I am sure outsourcing for webmasters SEO will really take off.
Christopher Butler | August 29, 2008 12:57 PM
Jeri,

Thanks for reading!

We always give a firm quote for the strategic consulting- a flat fee. Once the strategic phase is complete, we will give a firm quote for the project if there is enough defined to do so (assuming we know all the technical requirements to scope out the actual development). If not, we tend to do a firm quote for a prototyping phase, estimate the remainder of the project and then firm up that quote once prototyping is complete.

Best,
Chris
Jeri Hastava | August 29, 2008 12:00 PM
Thank you for another thought provoking article. I find myself wondering how you estimate a project if as noted above, "…it's at this point that we can most accurately establish a budget and schedule for a project." It makes perfect sense to me that strategic planning comes first, and it's in this phase that the real scope of the project reveals itself, but I've yet to encounter a client who didn't want a quote BEFORE any work, including planning, was begun???

Regards,
Jeri

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