I recently completed an web application for Ferrari in conjunction with Jason Dean at TheMews.tv for his client Pierce SmartFusion NewYork. This was a demanding app due to the quick turnaround time required and feature specification changes but its great to work on something that was so intricate and mission critical (a lot of people will be using the application)
What it was for
The main core of the application was to allow potential Ferrari customers to book a test drive and experience a new car that Ferrari was launching. A mailing list was already build that had the web address of the application where a user could import the code that they where suplied with and booking a time slot that they where free on a specific date to test drive the car.
The main features of the application
- Allow people who were identified to book a car at a specific time and venue.
- Allow Ferrari to track who made bookings and where
- Allow Ferrari to rate the customers on the likelihood of the participant in making a purchase.
- Allow participants to register when they arrived using an ipad version of the website
This doesn’t sound complicated at all but with only 4 cars available, at certain dates, multiple venues and thousands of potential users the system cant get very complicated very quickly.
The normal build process that most applications whether it be for web, mobile or even facebook is that I am supplied with images of the layout and specification document then it is up to me to turn these two pieces in to a work application.
With the client on Skype liaising with myself and the Ferrari guys, we were able to test the application thoroughly and make the feature requests and changes the same day.
Tools and technology used
To complete this project the basic stack that was used for the web application was-
- php/mysql combo
- codeigniter 1.7
- Blueprint (css for the admin)
- I also used simplesecurelogin for user login management with CI
As always my development environment is -
- 2 machines, one running windows 7 and one running windows xp
- photoshop /filezilla
Other tools include Gmail and skype for communications and to do lists. I also use synergy across my two machines, it allows me to run a 3 monitor setup using the same keyboard and mouse for all three, freeing up desk space
There was quite a few obstacles to overcome in this project and i have listed them below and how the project was successfully delivered.
- User experience- a lot of the time, no one plans what an admin section is to have, there is a lot of data in this system and a lot to be viewed. The original designs worked well but limited the user experience, I suggested a few tweaks and the user experience for the user was improved
- Multiple sources of data, The importation of the customer lists came from multiple different sources with varying formatting. Using php’s inbuilt functions, code could be written quickly to overcome this obstacle.
- Dates, times and cars. This was a major problem, it was a mission critical kind of problem where you couldn’t have multiple bookings more than 4 as there was only 4 cars available. With multiple cars available at multiple times on multiple dates at multiple venues the system could have easily got out of hand but with continual testing something similar to TDD, iterations were made quickly to build a scalable application
- iPad view. I do not own many apple products and I certainly do not use an ipad, but one of the requirements was to allow users to register when they arrive at their specified time slot. I had never done an IPad application but I took the original design and scaled it to match the screen resolution provided by the iPad and the client reported back that the application worked well.
- Speed of delivery. Accommodating tight deadlines is always troublesome when your a freelance solo developer. I put a lot of time in to the development of this application and often worked late to accommodate changes, I enjoy what I do therefore its not often a problem. The advantage in this project was that it was going to be used in California and since I live in Ireland, i can almost get a full days work in before the guys in California are even out of bed!
Although this project was stressful, its good to see something that I built from scratch being used by such a huge brand name. Its great to look out a dreary, miserable, window in Ireland and look back at your machine to input details of Beverly Hills and Ferraris
If you have a web application requirement email me firstname.lastname@example.org