Building a Sitefinity croquembouche in just 4 weeks – beautiful Style, Cracking Performance

Figure: The SSW send the APA website live… 28th July 2014

Figure: SSW sent the APA website live 28th July 2014

OK it was not a croquembouche, but it was a beautiful website designed and delivered in just 4 weeks. It was designed with enough pizzazz to support a national advertising campaign.

At SSW, we love a challenge. Clients give us a chance to flex our creative and problem-solving muscles, and think outside the box to create solutions. So when we took on the creation of the Australian Patisserie Academy’s website, we were thrilled with the opportunity to race against the clock to make something great, while meeting the extremely strict requirements of:

  • a 4 week deadline
  • a site that was both sexy and scalable
  • powered by a user friendly CMS

Combining some of our best technologies, including Sitefinity, practices, and teams, we were able to achieve all of the requirements, and the clients were delighted with the result.

If the site looks familiar, maybe you saw it on TV – the site was featured on several programs, including. Better Home and Gardens (Channel 9), and Lyndey Milan’s program on the Lifestyle Food Channel  (Foxtel). 

The 3 pillars of this project were:

Sitefinity

Our developers were excited to build another website on the Telerik Sitefinity platform. Each version gets better and better. We were able to complete it in such a short time frame because of our past experience building with Sitefinity. It is remarkable how much time can be saved when you get really good at a platform, something many developers don’t get a chance to do because they are always building software from scratch.

Figure: Everything on the site looks delicious,a fair bit of work went into the images and it really drives the ambiance of the site

Figure: Everything on the site looks delicious. A fair bit of work went into the images and it really drives the ambiance of the site

Scrum

Many projects can be stunted by a Product Owner who is too busy to communicate with the developers or properly test the completed features in a timely manner. Caroline Carey was a model Product Owner for this undertaking. Caroline is one of the reasons the project was completed in such a short time frame. The project was successful because:

  1. Daily Scrums – Caroline attended the majority of the daily scrums with the developers
  2. Continuous testing – Caroline tested each completed feature during development. Such quick feedback meant the developers were able to pivot and drop or add functionality
  3. They became a team – Caroline was in contact with the developers many times throughout the day. By the end of the project the SSW developers and Caroline worked together like the great Wallaby back line.

Design

The SSW Design team was the key to the success of this website. Most people know SSW as a bunch of very technical .NET developers, but we also have a softer side. The design team are experts at three things:

  1. User experience – When designing for Sitefinity, SharePoint or web applications, the user experience is significant. Enabling a user to get to the information they require with the least amount of clicks, is often more important than a great design. So they walk the tightrope balancing design against usability.
  2. Awesome Design – SSW designers are challenged with creating unique designs for strong brands. They are constantly working within brand guidelines, while building a unique corporate website
  3. Working with developers and .NET – Developers and designers are made from different molds. Developers are very logical and designers are more dynamic. Getting them to work together is often very difficult. The biggest challenge is getting designers to think like developers and learn the limitations of CMSs and the .NET framework, to create designs that not only look great but are cost effective to implement.
Figure: The tight deadline didn't make us forget the details

Figure: The tight deadline didn’t make us forget the details

Thank you

Nothing great is easy. Let me call out the people who need thanking the most:

  • David Berkes, the man who kicked things off with a beautiful website design
  • Rebecca Liu, the designer who converted the Photoshop mockups into Sitefinity and did the front end development
  • Daniel Hyles, the lead developer behind the Sitefinity module development
  • Daragh Bannigan, for smashing the site with heavy load testing and sorting out the proxy setup
  • Caroline Careyour lovable Product Owner from the APA, without whom this project would still be a distant dream

Another project that showed we love design as much as we love developing.

Cheers, Adam.