Recently we’ve been changing the way we work on ekmPowershop features. This not only involves what features we develop next, but also what they need to do in terms of functionality and usability. More importantly though, we’re talking to you – our customers before, during and after a feature release.
Over the years we’ve had common feedback around a lack of transparency, with customers not knowing what we’re working on and what they can look forward to. This is common with technology companies for lots of reasons. It doesn’t mean it can’t be improved though, so I’d like to share with you some of the things we’re working on which we believe is a change for the better.
A more measured approach
What’s important to remember is there are 2 key areas which now influence the way we develop new features – research and testing.
We’ve invested heavily in our product teams over the past 12 months, particularly the Development and Marketing departments where research and testing is at the heart of everything we do. When the teams were smaller, there was less scope to do any of the following as thoroughly as we’re now doing.
Here’s a broad flow on how we’ll be tackling features from inception to release:
The above is a simplified flow. I don’t want to go too detailed in this post, as our research team will be blogging with more insights on some of the cool things they’re currently doing to help better ekmPowershop very soon.
As well as having more testing/research stages, another major difference is the involvement of the Marketing team, which has been expanded in order to drive the parts which don’t involve programming.
What does all this really mean to ekmPowershop users?
I’m not saying this will speed things up or that we’ll be able to give you launch dates for features months in advance. There’s nothing we’d love more than to give all our customers (and staff) a menu for the coming months’ releases. Experience however tells us in doing this, we create expectation which can easily be shattered by any number of factors. It could be an unforeseen development, knock on effects from other developments; or simply a change in the roadmap where certain developments are put on hold or even totally reworked.
The truth is we don’t know precisely when a feature will arrive until it’s close to release, just like any other tech company. So what’s changed? How we communicate with and involve our customers on the road to getting a feature built and released. We’re going to get you more involved in the period leading up to a feature build (by asking you what we need next and how it should work), the period running up the actual release (by engaging Beta testers and releasing low-fi video teasers), and of course the period after a release in getting your honest feedback to improve it (through various feedback mechanisms).
Ultimately, new features should be more robust when they launch, as the numerous testing phases should catch more bugs before the feature goes live. The features should also meet most users’ expectations due to the specs created by the Marketing team from the results of the research, along with the user feedback from closed and open testing.
It’s already started
There are a lot of processes and a great deal of inter-departmental work to get all of our current and new developments into this flow. However, the next couple of big features (new mCommerce and new checkout) will have been through many or most of the steps detailed earlier in the article.
You may have seen surveys popping up in your shop’s dashboard, so if you want to have your say then please do take part! You’ll also see a feedback bar on all new feature pages, so you can let us know what you think about the new feature in terms of improvements or issues when you start using it. Other research is also under way, from focus groups to user testing sessions… so we really, really need you, our customers to help us with this more measured approach to developing ekmPowershop.
The more you interact with us on the feedback and research, the more we can share with you.