PlayBac Presse

Accelerating PlayBacʼs Digital Transformation using the Agile Methodology

Client location Paris, France

Business area Media

Product Web Platform

Delivery center Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Project type Growth & UX/UI & development

About the client

PlayBac is one of the top publishers for youth in France and is totally unique in this sector. PlayBac revolutionized youth publishing in 1987 with the release of Les Incollables, which contained fun study sheets and quizzes aligning with the school curriculum of each grade. Backpacking off this success, PlayBac began publishing daily newspapers for children including Le Petit Quotidien for children aged 6-10, Mon Quotidien for the 10-13 age range, and L’ACTU for 13 to 18-year-olds. These were also a big success – with each newspaper garnering tens of thousands of yearly subscribers.


Technologies used

The challenge

Pentalog’s collaboration with the PlayBac Presse team kicked off in February of 2017, when the publisher sought to revamp their French websites (four in total, for 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 had been built dating back to 2011 and all used the Symfony 1 CMS.

Pentalog was tasked with designing and developing a brand new platform to accommodate all versions of the website (for desktops & mobile devices) within six months – all while introducing PlayBac Presse to the Agile Methodology.

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. Each year, back to school season is the most opportune time to invite parents to subscribe their children to educational content.

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agile method

The solution

The innovative core concept of the new platform was based on a recent trend for the young audience UX: an aggregated news feed of all the newspapers hosted on the main sub-domain, This would give users complete access to their subscription in one place. Also, each site would be filtered and display separately on other sub-domains to create title specific websites, such as 

Pentalog applied the Agile Methodology, end to end – throughout the entirety of the project. The first phase was three weeks of “discovery”, which allowed us to define and prioritize UX and UI points, specify technical constraints related to the existing platform, and organize the work to be done. A project team made up of half PlayBac Presse developers and half Pentalog developers was then put together.

The challenge for the first year, 2017, was to get everyone – from marketing to technical staff, on board with the Agile Methodology. From the start of the design phase, daily updates or “scrums” were organized and development sprints lasted two weeks. The Agile Methodology allowed us to adapt to new constraints that might arise during a project – tweaking and improving the initial concept.

Our focus for 2018 was to simplify access to user content by building apps for each newspaper in the Apple and Google Play stores. This was done using Ionic, Angular and Symfony API.

Then last year, we created new opportunities for Playbac by building platforms for the Japanese and German audiences of My Little Weekly and My Weekly.  In addition, we deployed a workshop platform dedicated specifically to journalism teachers.

To ensure our client was able to monitor and report project progress to fellow stakeholders, the Playbac project followed a global methodology implemented in the vast majority of Pentalog collaborations. (It’s worth noting that these characteristics are also inherent to the Agile Methodology in general.)

  • While an initial budget estimate is always provided to clients, team allocation is what ultimately determines billing.
  • The scope of work that can be carried out by a team within a given time frame is usually fleshed out in the beginning stages of a project.
  • Consistent monitoring of the team’s production capacity will prevent future frustration throughout the project. The client retains the role as main decision maker alongside the product owner instead of waiting to see the final result when work is completed.
  • The client is highly involved in the decision making process, easing the work flow. The transparency inherent to an Agile collaboration helps all parties agree on a catalog of features included in the websites and applications.

In the case of our client, the UX/UI designs were also developed using the Agile Methodology, which worked to reinforce the relevancy of the project to its target audience. Equally important, this helped avoid a situation where page designs are created first and then must be changed for functional reasons.

Lastly, this solution provided the team much needed flexibility. Over the course of the project, the team scaled from 6 to 12 developers before scaling back down to 8. This was all planned according to the ramp-up of sprints.

In 2020, we will work to maintain the work done in the previous 3 years. With the deployment of a  fully revamped digital ecosystem in December and a new eShop – the Pentalog team will focus on improving website performance to increase acquisition, conversion and retention of subscribers using Growth Hacking Methodology.

The results

PlayBac Presse got an early, clear view of the minimum viable product to be offered to the public. The publishing house was able to efficiently coordinate the workload and budget within the given time frame and using a framework established at the very beginning of the project.

In the end, the project processed 1,600 tickets – whereas 1,000 had been expected initially. Our dedicated teams 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 helped prove the effectiveness of the Agile Methodology in 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 since adopted the Agile Methodology and developers moved from Symfony 1 to  3.

Mihai Cimpean
Customer Success Manager

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