Case study - Write Track
Technical and usability audit | digital consultancy
Working as an independent reviewer, I provided a quick technical and usability audit and some digital consultancy to Write Track, an established goal-setting and writing coaching start-up. My involvement was intended to help the company’s founder to get an outside assessment of where they were at from a technical and usability sense, and to provide them with some strategic direction for their next steps.
- Client: Write Track
Industry: Digital start-up
Indication of project time: 1 week
Date: December 2014
- Skills/work type:
- Expert technical and usability review
- Feedback and prioritised recommendations
- Strategic consultancy
- Select project tools/technologies of note:
- Backbone + marionette
Aims of the consultancy
The aims for my involvement were reasonably simple, and centred around providing an independent sense-check of where the company was, where it could go next, and helping them to understand the technicalities involved in a really simple way. Key intentions were to:
- Assess where the product was at that point in time, through asking the right questions and exploring the website and associated systems from different angles.
- Act as a bridge between the company’s developer and the owner – sanity check that the balance of technology, user and business needs was right.
- Provide recommendations and a suggested roadmap in a way that gave the owner a full understanding so that she could pitch ideas to potential investors confidently.
The company had specifically sought an ‘outsider’ to do the assessment and to write the strategy in order to ensure that the review wasn’t done by one of the existing team, who were all very close to the project.
My aim was to assess the website and systems from a variety of perspectives in order to provide the client with a balanced view of its status, and the areas that could be evolved further. As the engagement had a short duration, I did this by reviewing the following at a high level, and providing information about areas where further discovery and solutions architecture was recommended:
- Assessment of the current technology stack, hosting, and architecture.
- Front- and back-end code review.
- Site usability review.
- Responsive/cross-browser and device review.
- Systems review – including the CMS, CRM and mailing solution.
- Site processes and tech impact.
- Accessibility review.
- Performance review.
- Analytics review.
- Tracking and reporting of any bugs incidentally found.
“I commissioned Sally to do a technology audit and was impressed by her right from the start. She’s an exceptionally clear communicator who was able to ask all the right questions to get to the bottom of the brief. She completed the task ahead of schedule and submitted a report I regularly refer to – four months after the work was done – and which has formed the cornerstone of my technology strategy. I highly recommend Sally and look forward to working with her in the future”
Rebecca Evans, Founder at Write Track
The technologies that the product had been built with were outlined in existing documentation that the developer had created for the company, and there had been considerable planning around these at the point of the original build. The main website was primarily a Python/Django build.
The vision for the product was for it to be powered by a central RESTful API, which would be able to support apps or third party integrations alongside the main website as these were needed into the future.
Presentation of findings
My findings were presented back over a call (rather than in person as I’d normally do, sadly due to timescales/budget and geographical logistics) so that the client could understand everything and ask any questions. In addition I created a deck of all of the main points for her reference and for use in future investment pitches, plus there was also a collection of additional development/design/usability points tagged up within a Trello board as immediately actionable tasks.
The feedback included a snapshot of where the company was at that point in time, and strategic recommendations for improvements and growth. These included indications of priorities, the impact and complexity of changes, and areas that may need further thought from the business outside of what I was able to do within the limited timescales, and how they may have wanted to go about these. In more detail, the areas fed back were as follows:
- Summary of current status.
- Conceptual relationships of the different system components in place at the moment.
- Thoughts on the current architecture.
- Recommended relationship between the website and plans for an app.
- Systems review (different components).
- Code review & considerations.
- Key process improvements.
- Analytics recommendations.
- Responsive recommendations.
- Accessibility recommendations.
- Performance recommendations.
- Feature recommendations.
- Systems recommendations.
- Business/development process improvements.
- Areas for further investigation and planning for the business.
- Scalability considerations.
- Design/usability considerations.
This was a really enjoyable little piece of review and consultancy. The client was wonderful to work with, and I’m really keen to keep an eye on the product’s evolution over the next couple of years. I find working with startups very rewarding, as it’s great to know that people are so passionate about the things that they are creating, and it’s always great to be able to help in a small way.