Part of our manifesto is to share our thoughts and ideas freely.

One of the main ways we do that is through our blog, however we felt that the current user experience wasn’t facilitating this adequately and should make it easier for our audience to see all the things we have an opinion or advice on.

With a desire to make changes quickly, we decided to try an Agile approach. Firstly, to see if it made our lives easier, and secondly to see if the Agile way of working could work for our clients.

In short, we loved it! So, in our spirit of sharing, here’s a little story of how we went from this:

old-blog

To this:

new-blog

In just three days with Agile.

The Project Team

The first job was pick a team that had all the skills we needed to get the job done.

Our team included:

adam-pic Adam Craddock: Developer
alex-pic Alex Edwards: Designer
ks-pic Krystian Szastok: SEO
ge-pic Gary Elliott: Sponsor

The only preparation we undertook was to ensure that we were all available for a decent chunk of time over our allotted sprint.

Then we got to writing stories!

Our User Stories

Together, we crafted 4 user stories:

agile-stories

#1 Contributors: As a RM employee, I want to be able to contribute to the blog under my own name, so I can develop my knowledge and reputation as a thought leader on a given subject.

#2 One Blog: As a writer, I want to be able to write about a range of digital marketing topics, so I can learn about and think beyond SEO, PPC and CRO.

#3 Discovery: As a Reader, I want to be able to seamlessly discover new articles as I finish the one I’m reading, so I can experience all the things I can learn from RocketMill.

#4 Reporting: As a RM Manager, I want to see the best performing blogs by topic and author, so I can reward performance and focus resources.

That was it. No complicated requirements documents. Just a common, agreed understanding of what we wanted to have achieved.

We started out with sticky notes and whiteboard paper, but we found that the notes kept falling off, so we moved our stories to a digital equivalent and we set up a Trello board where we could keep track of our stories as they moved from ‘backlog’ to ‘in progress’ to ‘implemented’ to ‘in test’ to ‘done’.

Working Collaboratively

One of the bedrocks of Agile is individuals and interaction.

So twice a day for the three days we would get together and ‘scrum’. This let us quickly check we were on track, understand what we were doing and what problems we were encountering.

And once the work started, we created a little war room, where we sat together, talked, sketched and tinkered our way through each deliverable.

work-collab

Now, I’m not going to give away our trade secrets and tell you how we completed each of our user stories, but I’ll give you a glimpse into the level of effort that went into the 3 days:

#1 Contributors: We had to agree and set the new categories in our CMS and then we had to re-categorise and tag hundreds of posts with some clever SQL queries.

#2 One Blog: Half of the work we did in story 1, contributed here. But we needed to reconfig how our menu structure worked as well as the posts that were displayed on our index page template.

#3 Discovery: This was the bulk of our work. We created a design that allows for easier identification of author, category and new/related articles. Infinite scrolling was just one of the more complex tech challenges we considered.

#4 Reporting: This was a lot more technical than we anticipated, but in the spirit of ‘responding to change’, we got stuck in with Google Tag Manager, The Data Layer and some custom Analytics setup that enabled a whole raft of reporting capability.

End of Sprint Wash-Up

After the sprint was done and the changes were in sprint phase ‘live’, we treated ourselves to a trip to Nando’s. And over some hot chicken thighs and a couple of drinks, we talked about how the sprint went and what we’d do differently next time.

We decided against taking a group selfie. #toocoolforselfies

Looking Forward to Sprint 2

Our next sprint is already underway, where we plan to make some further UX changes to improve how our web content integrates with other marketing channels like email and social.

agile-blog

Are you using Agile in your organisation? What is your experience with it? Let us know what you think @rocketmill.