Applogix was invited by our long-time partner Aqua Online to respond with them to a RFP received from Barrows - an innovative, global retail marketing company.
Barrows wanted to build a web based system and even a new business altogether, galaxiworx, to embody and drive the best practices and processes that Barrows has developed over the last 20 years. The system would facilitate informed selection of suppliers, competitive
bidding for jobs, ongoing evaluation and simple workflows to drive administrative processes. Together with Aqua, we leapt at the opportunity to work on such an innovative project - with a market leader.
The first generation of a new product often meets with resistance and frustration from it’s users - frustration and resistance for which there wasn't any room on the galaxiworx project since users are would be working on multiple time-sensitive projects at the same time for blue-chip companies and suppliers.
To develop a product that was as close to the mark as possible we employed interviews and surveys to gain insight into the future users of the system. We created personas, scenarios, mental models and user journeys for the key user roles and functions of the website. Our research helped us to preempt and avoid a number of key user frustrations and to iterate quickly through a number of wireframe concepts until we found a match between the user and the anticipated tool.
Without before and after benchmarks it’s difficult to quantify how much “better” the solution is thanks to the usability exercise - but the confidence of the project team, knowing what they do, leads us to believe we’ve gone to market with a polished phase 1.
The galaxiworx system has been designed to be implemented globally, supporting multiple currencies and languages. Although the first generation is only supporting Desktop and Tablet devices the architecture needed to support later expansion into apps, mobile devices and integration with 3rd party systems (ERP, Logistics systems, etc.)
In order to achieve a powerful, flexible architecture we chose ASP.Net MVC 4 as the development framework, and built the app as a loosely coupled HTML5 single-page application.
The size and complexity of the project required multiple development streams and environments - all of which is not nearly as painful as it used to be before virtual cloud servers became so accessible - we chose Microsoft Windows Azure as out cloud hosting provider of choice for the development, staging and source control environments for this project.
With the system’s global footprint a big development challenge was needing to support a huge array of browsers and operating systems (across desktop and tablet devices).
We achieved a reliable, consistent user experience across the board by sticking to clean, semantic mark-up and lots and lots of testing. Although the front-end for the first phase of galaxiworx wasn’t responsive the designs and frameworks were built with later phases in mind where we intend to either add responsive capability or an app.
The first phase of the galaxiworx system was only scoped for desktop and tablet support - the architecture will however easily accommodate the addition of either mobile (responsive views) or an application to leverage the service oriented architecture.
Phase 1 of the galaxiworx system is entirely self contained, and no integration was required to deliver the core functionality we needed to go live - we anticipate that we need to integrate with 3rd party ERP systems in the near future.
Since galaxiworx is an internal system - as opposed to a public facing website - most of the usage data and insight will be available to us without requiring analytics. That being said, if you're not measuring, you're not learning, so we implemented Google Analytics across the site - the insights from which will be used to tweak and improve later phases of the product.