Works and Plays Well with Others


Mark Biek

on 9/8/2020

In our line of work, there are a lot of different ways a development project can happen. Typically, clients rely 100% on our skills, knowledge, expertise and capacity to get their project done - but sometimes, we get the chance to collaborate with another team - an opportunity we love!

We build something

Most of the time, a client has a technical need that they wouldn't be able to do themselves. We do research to figure out how to solve their need, then we build something. In that case, it's just the VIA team building the stuff and the client double-checking as we go to ensure they're happy with what we're building.

Working with a client's team

Sometimes, though, a client has their own team that we get to work with. This is an opportunity that we love. One of our greatest strengths is working with other teams, whatever their capabilities might be and however we might fit in.

Hosting Experts

Often, especially on smaller sites, a client might have a developer who's building the site and they need help with the hosting side of things. We have a top-notch hosting infrastructure (WP Engine for WordPress sites, Rackspace for everything else) plus loads of experience with other hosting platforms like Netlify, FlyWheel, Cloudways, GoDaddy Hosting, etc etc.

In those cases, we can help make recommendations to ensure that a client site is robustly hosted and within the client's budget. We have also helped automate deployments, troubleshoot hosting issues and so on.

Development Experts

Last year, we got the opportunity to design a new brand and website for Kentucky Performing Arts (KPA).

KPA uses a content-management system called Sitefinity. It also integrates heavily with Tessitura for show management and ticketing.

As you might expect, an organization like KPA has their own development team for managing Sitefinity and another team for managing ticketing. Given the scope of the redesign project, that meant that we were heavily embedded with their team. That meant giving their developers access to a shared Slack channel for rapid communication, Github for code-sharing and even having their lead developer in our office for collab sessions every week.

Given KPA's expertise on building and managing Sitefinity templates and our expert knowledge of front-end web development, we were able to divide up the work fairly evenly. We developed a build pipeline that let us generate static HTML templates and stylesheets based on the redesigned brand. Each template represented a small chunk which could be easily turned into a Sitefinity component (since Sitefinity pages are built by dragging and dropping components onto a page). KPA's developers could grab those templates, build their Sitefinity components, drop in the CSS and, voila!

For the ticketing portion of the site, we decided to build it as a single-page React application. This let us do the templating and Sitefinity work in parallel with the ticketing development. We handled the React piece while KPA developed the API to let us integrate with Tessitura.

You can see the end result at A tight collaboration yielded a fast, flexible, and beautiful site.

Team Augmentation

A scenario we're great with is helping an expert team that has too much work.

We got to do this recently for Code Koalas (CKD), another fantastic Midwest dev/design agency. They reached out to see if we could help with development on a large PHP + Laravel (our favorite PHP framework) project, a space where we feel right at home.

Their process was extremely well-organized. Everything was in a ticketing system with milestones and lots of details. They had a very active Slack presence, a good codebase, version control, etc. That meant our on-boarding was fairly easy.

We had Slack calls every few days to list out which tickets they wanted us to tackle. Then we worked through those tickets until we were done and ready for more.

I, personally, love these kinds of engagements because we, in addition to being useful to our client, get to learn a ton in the process. While we have loads of PHP & Laravel experience, you can always learn so much from studying someone else's codebase. It's an opportunity to think about how you might have done things differently and to pick up ideas about how to organize a project or learn a new way to do something.

We loved working with the CKD team and they appreciated how quickly we were able to ramp up and be productive on their project.

It's all about people

In the end, everything boils down to working with other people. My mission statement on my personal blog includes this:

I firmly believe that the days of a developer working by themself in a room are over. Software Development is all about collaboration. The ability to work with other developers and clients is just as important as the ability to write code. I love to work with awesome, smart people making beautiful and exciting things. I love making things that people will use and enjoy.

That's something that VIA Studio embodies to its core. At the end of the day, like all trends, technologies and design styles come and go.

All that matters is collaboration and relationships.

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