About the client
PlayBac is one of the top publishers for youth in France and is totally unique in this sector. PlayBac revolutionized the world of youth publishing by inventing Les Incollables in 1987 – fun study sheets with questions and answers, consistent with the school curriculum for each year group.Along with this success, starting in 1995, PlayBac began publishing daily newspapers for children. These include Le Petit Quotidien for children aged 6 to10, Mon Quotidien for 10 to13-year-olds, and L’ACTU for 13 to18-year-olds. These were also a big success – each newspaper having tens of thousands of subscribers per year.
Pentalog’s collaboration with the PlayBac Presse team started in February 2017 when the publisher needed to revamp all of their websites (eight websites in total, for the publications Le Petit Quotidien, Mon Quotidien, L’ACTU, L’ÉCO, My Little Weekly, My Weekly, Meine Woche, and Mi Semanal). The previous versions of the sites were from 2011 (for the oldest of them) and used the Symfony 1 CMS.
Pentalog had to design and develop a new platform to accomodate all website versions (for desktop computers and mobile devices) within six months, all while introducing the agile method at PlayBac Presse.
The launch date for all websites, August 23rd 2017, was non-negotiable since it had to correspond with the normal subscription campaign period for the various newspapers. Every year, back to school is the right time to invite parents to buy their children subscriptions to these high-quality publications.
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The core feature of the new platform was an innovative solution: a news feed for each newspaper website. Presenting news in a feed is particularly suited to the habits of young audiences.
We applied the agile method from end to end of the process. The first phase was three weeks of “discovery”, which allowed us to define the top UX and UI aspects, to specify the technical constraints related to the existing platform, and to organize our work. A project team made up of half PlayBac Presse developers and half Pentalog developers was put together.
The challenge for the first phase was to get everyone – from marketing to technical staff, on board with the agile method. From the onset of the design period, daily updates or “scrums” were organized. Development sprints lasted two weeks. The agile method also allowed us to adapt to new constraints that could arise during a project, amending and improving on the initial concept.
While an initial budget estimate is given, it is the team allocation that determines billing. It quickly becomes apparent what scope of functions can be developed with the team in the given time.
Constantly monitoring the team’s production capacity prevents frustration from arising at the end of the project. The client is constantly involved in decision making and does not wait until the end of the project to find out what’s happening. The end of the project is stress-free. There are no arguments about a catalog of features that must be included in the website or application at all costs. The scope is clear for everyone.
The UX and UI designs were also developed using the agile method, which also reinforces the relevance of the project. More importantly, this avoids a situation where page designs are created first and then have to be changed for functional reasons.
Lastly, this solution gives the team flexibility. Over the course of the project, the team went from 6 to 12 people before going back down to 8. This was all planned according to the ramp-up of sprints.
PlayBac Presse got an early, clear view of the minimum viable product to be offered to the public. The publishing house was able to coordinate the workload and budget within the available time, in the most efficient way and within a framework established at the beginning of the project.
In the end, the project processed 1,600 tickets, whereas 1,000 had been expected initially. We were able to release the desktop and mobile versions on time, while initially only the mobile version was planned.
The first few weeks after the release of the websites proved the effectiveness of the agile method for the final product. The new websites quickly attracted thousands of new subscribers.
Aside from PlayBac’s satisfaction with the delivered products, the publisher was also able to accelerate their digital transformation through this project. PlayBac’s technical and marketing teams have adopted the agile method and the developers have moved from Symfony 1 to Symfony 3.
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