How Five Mile tackled the Qimtek project: a Drupal developer’s perspective… with a difference

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Gareth Goodwin
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Being part of the Qimtek build was more than just me being ‘a developer’. It was about how I understood the business, the users and ultimately, the company vision.

Gareth building Qimteq site

We recently completed the rebuild of Qimtek.co.uk. The project itself started in 2013, with the final site launching in November 2015. We worked in a systematic way that allowed us to carry out the necessary work while also spreading the cost of delivery for Qimtek.

Throughout the Qimtek project, I was involved in everything - from input on designs and project management with the client, to demonstrating what we’d done and delivering the site.

Internally, people at Qimtek responded to Five Mile’s involvement straight away: they had wanted a new website for a while and so they were very receptive to the idea of it. Because many of them speak to the customers and they give demos of the site and how the system works, I think some were understandably a little nervous about change and how it was going to affect their day-to-day work. But I got so involved that by the end of the project, I felt I could sit in their office, pick up their phones and start selling their product!

A screen shot of the Qimtek website

...But why?!?

We started with a discovery phase. We logged in to their old site and clicked on every single form and link to get a true picture of what the site was about, what it did and how users navigated around it.

From the discovery stage we had to ask “Why?” We pushed Qimtek on things like: “Why do your users work that way?” and “Why is a specific function available and not another?”

We also met frequently with Karl Wigart, Qimtek MD, to get a solid understanding about the business. These were a mix of Skype and face-to-face meetings during which we asked as many questions as we could, building up a snapshot of the users from all the data, intel and insight.

Once we had done the intensive discovery phase work, the initial phase of new website was to rebuild what they had regarding functionality, while bringing in minor changes or improvements. It was an evolution that was going to conclude with a totally re-imagined site.

What good design really means

Before the rebuild, the visual design of the old site was very confusing. The site had lots of stuff crammed into as many spaces as possible, but it still wasn’t very informative.

So we suggested they took a step back and looked at the re-design as a springboard for further developments and improvements for ongoing work; a wider concept of what ‘good’ design looks and feels like, and how it ties in with functionality. We advised they kept it simple, open and clean. The new site reflects this vision perfectly.

Engineer working on machine

A collaborative approach, a solid build and a site with a future

Qimtek now have a five-phase plan for the coming year of what changes they’re bringing in. They’ve gone from having a website they don’t really like to having a real sense of direction. So the impact of the new site has been bigger than we expected: I think it’s inspired and invigorated the whole company.

I feel that we at Five Mile have really taken Qimtek’s ideas, questioned and challenged them, made sure they are solid and have purpose. We helped them see the project as a whole, and not just “here’s a website brief” and subsequent “here’s a website” - but instead “here’s a company that have users that do ‘this’, so let’s make ‘this’ better by doing ‘that’”.

For me, being part of this project meant I wasn’t just a Drupal developer: it was more holistic because I was encouraged to get under the skin of Qimtek, and help create an ‘intelligence’ behind the site build. Not only was this incredibly helpful for Qimtek as a client, it also enabled me to better understand the business needs of our clients, and I look forward to taking this approach again in future projects.

Want to learn more? Then check out the Qimtek Case Study in full

About Gareth Goodwin:

I joined Five Mile in 2010 and am Lead Drupal Developer. My other expertise is in: PHP, MySQL, JavaScript developer, technical architect, test developer, server administration.

@fivemile