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Our Agile Project Development Approach to Software Development

“Software should not be developed like an automobile on an assembly line”
- Dr. Winston Royce

Before any web software and/or mobile application development officially begins, Interaria meets with the client several times to go over project specifications for the web and mobile app. We seek clarity in the main features and business directions while recognizing that certain decisions and direction for the user experience design, content, and user interactivity may be easier or more applicable to determine at a later point.

Some features for the new web application development may be regarded crucial while some other features may not be a top priority or may require more thinking and clarification as the project planning moves forward. In many cases, it can be very difficult to state with a certainty all required features for the web application as new ideas emerge during the project’s development, new feedback becomes available from focus group discussions, and certain features start feeling unnecessary while some become further emphasized.

An agile project development approach acknowledges that web application development may be a rather organic process carried through in a close communication with the client and in close communication with each Interaria’s team member responsible of different aspects of the software development (designer, user experience designer, coder, software developer, project manager). We like to keep the development milestones small and rapid, and work in “sprints”, in order for the client to be fully briefed in all development steps. In rapid development cycles, in case the client changes their mind, we can change a direction fast without needing to redo a lot of work.

The web based software applications that are developed in an agile framework allow revising development goals in weekly or monthly increments during the project according to the direction and feedback from the client. Goals for each development cycle will be stated and discussed before any new work increment begins. During the development cycles Interaria team members actively communicate with one another, and support each development milestone by each of us bringing in their area of expertise. It is very important to us to maintain high standards in brand design and user interface designs. We have our design team always available to support each development milestone to foster the highest visual and usability standards to all front-end and back-end interfaces. We encourage our clients to allow proper time for testing, user feedback, and overall perfecting of the designs in order for us to be able to foster the highest quality standards for the web and/or mobile software app.

The key features of Interaria’s agile project development approach are:

  • The client has a right revise the development plan during the project.
  • The client has a right revise any existing work and may decide new priorities.
  • The client is not tied to have certain features developed but has the control to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ on the go.

The bottom line: Interaria always makes sure to ask questions, meet several times before any work begins, and find out and document as much details as possible about development specifications for web and mobile applications. This doesn’t contradict the fact that project priorities change and people simply can change they mind during the application development process. Agile project development approach acknowledges that not everything can be specified to an absolute detail before the development project and first cycle of application development begins.

To discuss your company’s web and mobile application needs and what type project development approach would work best for your company, please set up a consultation time by calling 214-909-3900.

 

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Interaria’s CMS Development for King Content

Content has been declared to be the king of the highly searchable web and mobile media. Content drives search results; content brings web and mobile traffic. New content increases frequent visits and customer loyalty. Original content builds up authority positions and differentiates in a saturated market place.

Whatever the reasons for web and mobile content, it is our job to support our clients web and mobile media goals by delivering custom content management solutions tailored to their specific needs and demands. We’ve been developing content management systems on a PHP/MySQL platform since 2008. Our content management systems not only support text and image management but they also integrate with our custom developed PHP/MySQL web applications for special content uploading.

We utilize our web application design and development for reducing errors and streamlining content upload processes for special content structures and feature requirements. For instance, rather than posting documents via a text editor system we can create a custom web application with custom interfaces for each content increment such as document name, document class, document type, link, keywords and so on.

Some examples of our PHP/MySQL web application based systems for custom content management systems are:

  • Event calendar system
  • FAQ system
  • Documents upload system
  • Documents classification system
  • Photo album system
  • Community messaging system
  • Time based content upload system
  • User support system
  • Knowledge base system
  • Private messaging system
  • Mobile interfaces for managing content
  • System reports

For the increasing number of clients benefiting from a mobile site and/or mobile app we make sure that all of their media content streams from the same source minimizing any needs for uploading the same content twice or maintaining two different platforms. With efficient content management systems in place, content creation can be systemized for fast and easy workflows.

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User Experience Design for Web and Mobile: Minimize User Errors, Maximize Desirable Outcomes

User experience design is fascinating because it deals with both objective and subjective experiences. On an objective level, typically from the technical standpoint, a feature on the web and mobile might be functioning properly. However, if users encounter trouble using the feature, or even locating it, we can argue that the system can be regarded broken.

As a starting point of creating an optimal user experience design, we need to find out information about the target audience, their commitment to use the site, and their preferences for web and mobile media. We discover answers to questions such as:

  • Who is a typical user of the web and mobile site / feature?
  • How much time do they spend on the site?
  • How frequently do they visit the site?
  • Is there any time for a learning curve?
  • What is threshold of a visitor leaving the page or site?
  • What is the most wanted action that takes place on the site?

When specking new features, we want to make sure that the target users have been properly heard; and that they have given feedback on the type of  features they find valuable. Increasingly the web and mobile experience is so much more than a traditional one-way interaction (such as navigating through web pages and using a contact form): More and more sites and apps are built on the staple of member exclusive features that typically require registration and a user account creation. User experience design is crucially important in these extensive web application rich user interactive web and mobile sites; users need to be able to understand the site’s purpose and its key functionalities, use them without errors, and ideally enjoy the process.

Standard key features to optimize for dynamic sites are:

  • Placement for login and register buttons
  • Easy to use pleasant online forms
  • Attractive and functional visual environment
  • Error messages
  • Email notifications
  • My Account structures
  • Call-to-action button and links

Furthermore, increased usability can be offered by developing customizable dynamic features such as:

  • User can adjust or organize content structure for My Account dashboard
  • User can adjust or organize content structure for a landing page
  • User can choose and adjust notification settings
  • User can create custom feeds according to interest
  • User can save content

We can also get more information about the user behavior by developing dynamic tracking features such as:

  • Run reports on logged in/log out times
  • Run reports on member action
  • Run reports on most visited pages
  • Create visual reports on data
  • Provide statistics on latest action
  • Export any data

User experience design is not exact science. User experience is something that can be improved and honed, over and over again. The more time we can have to hone the interfaces and user flows, the better the results. The more feedback and observations we can receive from the actual users (and/or focus groups), the better the results.

The goal of user experience design is simple: Improve usability of web and mobile interfaces. Minimize user errors. Maximize desirable outcomes. In short: Create pleasant user experiences.

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Enjoying the Process: Design Steps for Web and Mobile

In many ways designing requires skillful listening; sometimes it is not that easy to express what one wants or likes, we often know better what we don’t like.

And on the other hand, in cases where the client regards that they know exactly what they want, it is our job to test these ideas and make sure that the creative direction is indeed final. Sometimes things get nailed down faster; sometimes ideas and directions shift and the process takes more time. Ideally we recommend giving enough time for the design process in order to make sure that the design files will settle in and that our client feels connected and committed to them.

Ultimately, we regard it as our responsibility to work towards a professional web and mobile media design in the framework of requested direction and feedback. Our ten+ years in business has thought us a lot how to be sensitive to our clients’ comments while neither overburdening them with requested tasks nor overrunning their views and requests.

What does a typical design process for web and mobile look like? Below is a flow sample of how a typical web and mobile design process might go about. When working with our client we request feedback and approval on each step before moving forward with the code production process.

Setting Goals:
We listen to the client carefully and identify goals for the web and mobile presence.

What We Have:
Together we go through existing identity design elements, likes and dislikes. Sometimes certain identity elements can be taken literally to web and mobile, and sometimes they need a certain degree of interpretation.

Who We Are:
Together we identify, and analyze/strategize the client’s brand identity and market positioning.

Who’s Competing:
Together we go through web and mobile samples of relevant competition.

What We Like:
Together we identify different style options and web and mobile layouts that resonate with the client.

What’s the Scale:
Together we form a preliminary site map and feature set plan for the site development.

Here’s What We Have: 
We provide the client with first layout ideas; focus on the feel and primary identity elements.

This is How it Would Work: 
We provide the client with a basic wire framing of the navigation structure.

Here’s a User’s Experience:
We illustrate and/or wire-framing the roadmap for a user-experience road-map. Please note: regarding on the scale of required dynamic features – such as a registration system, an online product catalog system, an ordering and customer check-out system, My Account features – this workload often exceeds the timeline of a standard web or mobile design process.

Here’s How to Get User’s Attention:
We provide the client ideas with user engagement with call-to-action areas and optimal site layout.

We Heard Your Feedback:
We revise designs, layouts and wireframes according to feedback.

Here are the Designs with Your Content:
We test the designs against provided content. We imagine what future content might look like.

Can you take a Final Look?:
We request final approval before the coding begins

Developer, let’s sit down and talk:
We make sure that the design files are to be coded according to the plan.

OK, let’s see:
We adjust fonts, visuals and identity elements according to the real-life rendering on different browsers and mobile platforms.

We made some changes…: 
We adjust and improve the user experience flow according to real-life testing results.

Interesting new changes:
We foster acceptance and understanding that sometimes good ideas take their time: we agree that the client has the right to change their mind and request changes during and after the coding phase

The future is looking bright: 
We will adjust and create new designs according to new identity elements or direction on brand positioning

Interaria has walked through these steps many times in the past, and we know how to guide the conversation, structure deliverables and provide results. By breaking the design process into tasks, the process can feel enjoyable.

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Project Lauch: Play It Safe!

Play it Safe!® is a child abuse awareness and prevention program developed by The Women’s Center of Tarrant County. The program incorporates age-appropriate scripts and movies to teach children how to reduce their risk of sexual and physical abuse, and sexual assault.

In the past, the ordering of any Play It Safe! material was done via phone or product order forms. Interaria was called in to modernize both the ordering system and the overall web presence of the program.

Interaria developed a full custom solution for online ordering of the program material and online management of the user accounts. Schools, applicable organizations, and parents may register on the site and create an account for viewing the store material and placing secure online orders. Each shipped video order is also credited and tracked with a one-year-subscription of unlimited online watching access.

Our process included weekly meetings with The Women’s Center of Tarrant County to finalize the site development plan and online store features. We consulted with the team and reported at every step during the website and web applications development. The key development milestones during the project were overviewing and discussing site features and elements such as the visual design of the site and brand integration, content structure and navigation, the integration and use use of the Interaria content management system, shipping fee calculators, shopping cart system, check out process, My Account features, and Admin’s features for management of the entire site.

As always, the site was designed and developed fully by the Interaria team, project manager and developer James Shields, user experience designer Meri Kuusi-Shields, and software and web application developer Pyry Kuusi.

Interaria thanks The Women’s Center of Tarrant County for this great meaningful project and looks forward to supporting the organization with its any arisen web & mobile application needs.

For more information, please visit our portfolio case study or call us at 214-909-3900.

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Our Development Process for Quality Assurance

Throughout our production we foster our process of consulting, communicating and contemplating to ensure an end-product that meets our client’s organizational vision and expectations.

Interaria’s agile project development approach fosters receptiveness to feedback and new ideas, leading to a user acceptance and long-term usability of the final web and/or mobile application system. We make sure that our client is integrated and informed about each development milestone, and that we are all on the same page with upcoming design and development plans before moving forward. Each mobile and web application system we develop is subjected to a thorough and systematic benchmark testing for quality assurance.

Our approach to each project is to be available to help with the client’s business as much as need be. We go beyond just interviewing staff members and collecting data and feedback. We are here to listen and ready to actively contribute and exchange ideas with our client, as frequently as needed. We are ready to participate to weekly board room meetings, deliver business ideas and strategies in a written format, analyze big data and qualitative data, participate to seminars, and meet frequently with different members of the staff based on any existing or arisen need during the project. Our goal is never to hand down a web or mobile application system but to make sure that it is custom designed and developed based on the true and mutually acknowledged needs of the client’s organization. With our flexible agile project development approach, we make sure that we all have both the interest and availability to continue developing our deliverables beyond the most obvious first stages.


A key to a successful project outcome is to foster a platform for communication. We consider it our duty to communicate in a frequent, consistent and coherent manner: this means providing our client with a clear report of the project status including deliverables, revisions, to-do-list, next objectives, and addressing any questions or concerns a client may have. We prefer meeting with our clients weekly, preferably face-to-face. Increased interaction and a frequent exchange of ideas are a base for a successful end-product that addresses all of the organization’s critical needs for the web or mobile product beyond the first rounds of brainstorming. We want to make sure that all team members have had their chance to be heard and contribute to the project.


It’s not just about doing things but doing them right. We take time to think and plan ahead. We are not afraid to show our clients different development options, create slight discomfort by bringing up new development ideas, and critically raise questions that test current plans for feature development. By thoroughly going through development options, and creating space for a dialog, we make sure that our client receives an end-product that meets the organization’s expectations and plans for scalability.

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Database Management Systems: Options to MySQL

In many cases MySQL is regarded as the database partner for PHP scripts. MySQL, however, is not the only database option for PHP and other dynamic codes.

Oracle databases can in some cases be viewed as more robust and industrial but they are typically chosen if a client (company) already has an established relationship/contract with Oracle. If your company prefers Oracle database over MySQL database, Interaria can work with this technical framework.

Maria DB Open Source Database Software is a recent evolvement of MySQL. Maria DB promises improved scalability, storage and speed over MySQL. Maria DB has recently gained popularity but it is still a newcomer with a much smaller user base in comparison to MySQL.
See: http://db-engines.com/en/ranking_trend/system/MariaDB%3BMySQL

WebScaleSQL is also an interesting new database development project aiming to develop greater performance to MYSQL in running it in a larger scale. Currently the contributions to the database have come from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The bottom line: Interaria follows the database software developments closely, making recommendations on the database use based on each client’s database needs.

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Interaria Alphabets

Application

Interaria develops custom software applications for web and mobile. We specialize in custom PHP/MySQL application development for web and mobile.

Brand

Brand is more than just a visual design. Brand is a narrative, a story, a message, an invitation. We position brands and create identity messaging for cross-platform communication on the web and mobile. It is important that brand messaging is consistent in all communication points, and that the brand design elements foster optimal usability.

C++

A general purpose programming language for professional applications. When C++ is needed, our development team is ready.

Development

Interaria believes in agile project development, ability to comprehend complex business models and organize them in a make-sense manner, willingness to embrace the organic process of new ideas and the ability to shift the direction for development when needed.

Experience

We’ve been in business since 2004. Our experience let’s us today take on larger projects, approach them with calmness, and deliver results steadily with excitement of course.

Finland

Midnight sun, snowy Christmas, functional approach to design. We like going to Finland.

Goal

We believe in staying on the path: “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal”.

- Henry Ford

HTML

XHTML, HTML5. Web development is our bread.

iOS

We develop iOS wrappers for mobile sites or we can develop a custom iOS app according to one’s business model.

Java

One of many programming languages we know and can apply to our projects.

Kauas

Finnish for far away.

Look

“Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough”.

- Gustave Flaubert

Mobile. MySQL.

Yes, we can combine these and make MYSQL database driven mobile web apps.

New

“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds”.

- Mark Twain

Open Source

Recent media discussions have pointed and made it obvious that large systems should be preferably developed on an open source platform where the entire community of web developers contribute to the code development and debugging.

PHP

Our field of expertise: an open source web and database programming language. Scripts that talk with the database and make actions take place.

Quality

We don’t settle any project until all parties involved are pleased with the results. For active sites, our development team is ready to continue developing quality deliverables according to future site update and upgrade needs. We implement rigorous technical testing and a systematic user testing to all our deliverables.

Responsive design

Adapting the site’s layout for optimal viewing experience on mobile devices.

Software engineering

Applying professional software engineering to mobile and web app development fosters quality control, data scalability, effective problem solving and debugging.

Teamwork

Complex application rich websites and mobile sites require dedication and teamwork. Ultimately, our products are an outcome of close teamwork between all Interaria team members. We operate an organic teamwork approach where each team member can step in whenever needed, not just according to each member’s designated work cycle. Our designer doesn’t just hand design files to our programmers but oversees that the files will be coded according to set standards, and when needed, designs and codes will be revised until a balance has been reached between the form and function.

Unique

Unique is what differentiates. Our job as designers and developers is to highlight this uniqueness and make it the obvious choice.

Value

Our mission is to deliver quality services, develop quality products that ultimately add real value to our clients.

XHTML, XML

Familiar code languages from our ten years in business.

Yellow

We understand and respect personal preferences. “I’ve always eaten egg whites because when I was little, I didn’t like the color yellow, so my mom would trick me into eating eggs by taking out the yolk”.

- Eva Longoria

Z-layout

Creating an effect layout with call-to-action at the end of the z. Another option: the F-layout.

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