Starting with an Idea
With no previously existing application in place, the My Auto Loans application was a blank canvas. The clients provided business requirements and had a good idea of what they needed the application to do. Its main purpose was to provide their auto loan customers with an easy way to access account information. The portal also needed to have notification and two-way messaging functionality so the bank’s customer service representatives could communicate with the client.
User Stories & Taskflows
As a User, I would like to…
Although we had the business requirements from a stakeholder’s perspective, to really have a good understanding of it from an end user’s point of view, we needed to develop user stories. I lead the outlining of these stories, and we reviewed them with the client to have their input as well. Although seemingly simple, these user stories enabled us to all be on the same page about all those who would be using the application, why, and what they would want to get from it. It was these user stories that were then passed on to development as a guideline for what the various development task breakdown would start to look like.
Along with the user stories, we developed task flow diagrams to really start to see how the flow of the user’s actions would take shape and make sure the user experience was a smooth process throughout. This gave development more information as to where various error or success messages/screens would be needed and to better understand the functionality the client was seeking.
Once the user experience was designed, it was time to move on to the user interface design. Now that we knew what we wanted the task flow and experience to be, we needed to create wireframes to get a general idea of what it was going to look like.
Design & Development
Seeking a User-Centric Design
Once the general layout was approved through basic wireframes, we needed to add branding and design the actual user interface. Armed with Crescent Bank’s brand standards guide, we created several mockups of what the various screens would look like. The application was finally starting to take shape.
Working Together: .NET MVC and Knockout.js
When we were first planning the tools to use for development, our original choice was going to be a combination of .NET MVC and Angular.js – the goal was to have an MVC framework and an MVVM framework working together to create a highly interactive application. However, Crescent Bank’s developer was building a custom API for use with this app and others before development on the My Auto Loans application had begun. We learned that he was using Knockout.js for the API. I discussed this with the main .NET developer working on the backend and he recommended that we go ahead and switch from Angular to Knockout as that was more familiar to Crescent’s developer who would be working with the application in the future. Since it is not performing any complicated functions, but mostly just displaying information returned from the API, I agreed and we both learned Knockout.js.
Enter the Infamous Scope Creep
Although the project was using the Agile methodology for development, we still had a prepared estimate and timeline for development based on the approved application design. Even though the design had been finalized and approved by the client, there were usually adjustments or additions that were needing to be made as a result of client check-ins and reviews. Most times, these were minor, but they do add up and at times caused both parties to have to push out the original timeline to accommodate. Towards the end of the project, we did encounter several requests that were out of scope of the original estimate, but we communicated with the client and provided additional quotes on the new requests. These were approved and we proceeded on with finishing up the development.
Waiting for the Results…
This site will be launching at the end of this month. It has been awhile in coming, but all parties are excited about the launch after everyone worked so hard to reach the finish line. We will let it have some time to gather analytics data and feedback, and compare the results to measure performance. As this is the first release of the app, we’ll be anticipating future feature requests as it grows and matures.