Why all businesses should take an agile approach to development
Back in 2015 I had an idea. It wasn’t a revolutionary idea, but something that put me on a path to something more unique.
I’d like to say things were different back in 2015, but the highlights focus around an election, so really not that much in it, but at least we weren’t bombarded with Brexit news back then.
One major difference was that We Are Personal didn’t yet exist. I was running my own digital marketing agency and I was fed up with the lack of flexibility most, if not all, websites out there. Let me explain my frustration:
The first website was launched in 1992 – a static, basic, website. Website design changed but they were still glorified brochures until things went a little more main-stream with the launch of broadband and content management system’s like Wordpress. This offered the masses the opportunity to create regular blog, or owned, content.
So, website’s started to offer more of a dynamic feel to them, yet most businesses are still sticking with their static brochure sites.
We’re now getting into the ‘content lead’ evolution with Facebook launched in 2004 and user generated content becoming the future. That’s 13 years ago! We now have a whole generation of users that don’t know anything other than having access to information from their own friends and network, personalised content. Yet websites still stick to this static, brochure based, content generic to all users, with a site structure that requires the user filters through all this information to find the information that actually leads them to action. That, to me, felt wrong and inefficient.
Along came the project that is now known as We Are Personal. An engine that could be added to any existing website and adapt, not just the messaging, but the entire design and user journey of the website based on the user. Now it’s not that this hadn’t already been tried. Personalisation has long been a buzzword, but having worked in digital marketing at agency level for ten years I’m yet to see a system that does it well enough to actually generate return for the average business. To me, the main issue is the process of segmenting the data, thus the audience, not the tool or technology itself. So I made some key decisions back in 2015 of how the system must work:
- It must be able to adapt the entire site through one snippet of code. I’d seen other tools that required tagging of every element of the site you wish to change, which I knew most businesses wouldn’t be able to do.
- It must be quick – this needs to work in real-time, the infrastructure is essential to make sure it works quickly, ideally in less than 2 seconds.
- It must be reliable – building in a ‘kill switch’ early on to avoid any chance the system would slow down the client’s site, as slow load times can be just as annoying as poor customer experience.
- It can’t have a flicker, ever. For anyone who isn’t aware what a flicker is, it’s the process where the website will show the ‘original’ content but once the ‘personalised’ variation catches up with the site load it ‘flickers’ to hide the original and show the variation. I hate this, I passionately hate this! I’ve tested and used a number of tools that offer website testing functionality, some are very expensive, and they regularly show a flicker, one of the bigger players had a flicker on their own website!
This just annoys the hell out of me so I refused to release our software until we never got a flicker, ever.
We’ve stuck to these requirements for the whole development process and, luckily, it was the right areas to focus on as it meant we could develop a stable, strong and reliable infrastructure that led to We Are Personal becoming more of an engine for multiple ‘products’. Our first one being WAP Dynamic, which is now live, along with our new website www.wearepersonal.com.
WAP Dynamic offers a solution to the digital advertising sector. A tool that dynamically adapts the website for digital campaigns. Based on the campaign targeting our tool will offer a unique website experience to every visitor, offering them the best user journey and message to drive up the levels of enquiries, or sales, and improve the return on advertising spend, something that is currently scarily low.
Through our initial research and time spent on the infrastructure of We Are Personal we are now able to offer a product, WAP Dynamic, that can adapt any website and use artificial intelligence to continuously test the user experience to maximise the conversion rates, something unique within an industry that spent £10 billion in the UK alone in 2016 on media spend. Was that our plan back in 2015? No, but through adopting an agile approach to development, talking to a lot of people along the way for research and insights, working on accelerator programmes like the Barclays/Creative England Flight programme and continuously testing and amending our idea, we now have a strong product, that has been thoroughly tested and is ready to offer digital advertisers a better solution to increasing their advertising results through improving customer experience, without the need for expensive technical changes, time-consuming page template creation or the setup of regular testing, WAP Dynamic takes care of all of that for you.
If you’re interested in seeing it in action then please visit www.wearepersonal.com for a free demo.