Over the last few weeks, we’ve released a couple of articles discussing the changes we are making to the update process on ekmPowershop. These articles focus on how research and feedback are playing a role in the way we work as a company. This article will specifically point out the stages where we will be using research and feedback to refine feature releases on ekmPowershop.
First things first – what features should we be working on?
Before we could start any development, we needed to know what exactly we should be developing, and so the first action was to perform exploratory research studies. You may have already seen an example of this exploratory research in the form of the “Improving ekmPowershop” questionnaire, where we directly asked you, the customers, what you’d like us to improve and what new features you’d like to see added to the ekmPowershop platform. This exploratory work is a continuous process, and will be repeated on a regular basis to ensure we’re alway aware of our customers’ current needs.
There are other factors in determining what we develop, as we will also take into account any historical information on features you want to see improved or added. Other factors include competitor research, our own evaluation of existing features and new trends in ecommerce technology.
What do the features need to do?
Once we’ve determined what we’re developing, we will then need to perform follow up research which investigates what you want from the new feature.This research will generally take the form of both questionnaires and focus groups. The questionnaires are used to gather an averaged opinion from the customer base, whereas the focus groups are used to gather richer detail and opinions that will help us determine the finer points of what you need from a feature.
Once we have analysed the data gathered in this follow up research, we will develop a Functional Spec Sheet for the development team, highlighting what functionality is required from the feature. This forms the basis of a Technical Spec Sheet, which can be considered the technical blueprint for the feature’s development by the Development Team.
Time to test!
Once the Development Team have created the feature, they will perform some initial testing before it is passed to the Marketing and Design Teams for more internal testing. In this second round of internal testing, feedback will be gathered and summarised by the research arm of our Marketing Team, with the resulting summary being passed back to our Development Team. A feedback discussion will then take place and a decision will be made as to whether we can move onto the next stage of testing, or if we need to go back to the planning stages to re-design the feature.
If the green light is given, the next stage is the final piece of internal testing, where all teams within the company will be given access to the feature and will be able to give their feedback and comments. This will be followed by another feedback summary, further stages of feedback discussion and another decision as to if we can move onto the next stage of testing (with our Beta Test Group).
Beta Test Group and Beyond
This will be the first time customers get to see the new feature in action. The Beta Test Group will consist of active and engaged ekmPowershop customers from all experience levels, backgrounds and levels of technical ability (we’re recruiting for the Beta Test Group right now, click here for more details). Another feedback summary will be produced for this stage of testing, followed by another discussion and the final green light. This will lead to the release of the feature on our staging servers, then the live ekmPowershop servers.
Once the feature has gone live to all customers, the same feedback bar given to the Beta Testers will also be given to all ekmPowershop users. We will summarise the comments, feedback and suggestions provided and pass this to our Development Team. After a final feedback discussion, any issues raised will be corrected and any popular suggestions for improving the feature will be implemented.
In summary our aim with this process is to be thorough and focused on your needs when developing new features. This allows us to find out what features you want and how you want them to work, before sending the feature through multiple stages of testing and feedback by staff and customers. Having listened to your feedback over recent months, we believe this process will lead to the best end product from day one of release.