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Sprint-Nextel: user testing website

New product development, and related challenges


Overview

Sprint-Nextel was in a joint venture with Comcast, Time-Warner and Cox cable to bring a unified package featuring cable, digital voice, Internet and wireless to consumers. Considering the intense competition with the wireless market, the new product offering had to be developed, tested and rolled-out within a short timeframe. Dragonfly was brought in to design and develop an online testing Web site to record and manage alpha/beta testers during the pre-launch phase.

Challenge

Working for four major telecom companies at once, all on equal footing, required exceptional management abilities. The project needed to fit the individual needs of each company without becoming four separate Web sites. As the deadline approached, the production time got smaller as the project scope increased in size. Staying on top of these parameters meant constant updates to planning documents as well as the production schedule.

Objectives

Alpha/beta users were to be registered and large amounts of test data was to be collected on each user. The web site to be developed also needed a user approval system, a user rating system, user test scenario assignments with feedback ratings/comments, as well as various automated HTML e-mails. All of this info fed a large user database with restricted access between the companies involved. Overall, the site needed to share as much functionality as possible between all four companies, without sharing any of the collected data.

Requirements for server security were set to the highest possible standards. Corporate security specifications meant extensive re-development of the server.

The design objectives stated that the site would be easy to use with a consumer look consistent with the new temporary branding. This needed to be implemented across all e-mail communication, user test pages and support pages. The site also included a user support section and a custom built online user forum. All info was published via an extensive admin section with separate control for each of the joint-venture partners. Keeping data and functionality separate within  one web site was one of our biggest challenges.

Solutions

Dragonfly worked with the joint venture partners to agree on a set of specs for data collection and functionality. Specifications were being updated up until the moment of launch. Careful planning and round-the-clock availability was critical to get the project completed on deadline. All of the site's functionality was developed from the base level using open source PHP code, which gave us better flexibility and control than any existing program.

The security requirements resulted in a locked-down, dedicated server with limited access. We brought in a server security specialist to ensure that corporate requirements brought on by each of the venture partners internal Web security were met.

Despite the ever-changing conditions, we were able to keep to the original design concept throughout the project. Dragonfly was able to pull together a consistent look that mimicked a true consumer experience while being flexible enough to implement across the site's technical parameters. The design was memorable while being adaptable to the e-mail, user pages, and even the administration screens.

 

Results

The Project Purple program was able to register hundreds of users across all four companies with no technical issues. The users were able to take part in the testing experience and provide vital feedback for product development.

Dragonfly continued to add additional site functions post-launch. New testing parameters and extensive reporting functions were developed, tested, and added to the site, while still active with users.




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