Third Mind | Conde Nast: Allure Beauty Bloggers
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Conde Nast’s Allure Beauty Bloggers

One of our favorite social campaigns!

Allure Beauty Blogger was a highly-interactive blogging contest system driven by audience reviews and voting with contestant and audience prizes. Its complexity resided within 1) the automated management of changing program “display” states across defined periods of time, 2) the need for Allure to easily feed the system with new content and manage the contestants, and 3) the need to interface to numerous 3rd party systems and databases.

How Did We Get There?

Detailed Requirements
Typically, when we are requested to bid on a project, the client will provide us with a Request for Proposal (RFP) which lists the features and functions and goals of the website. In this case, we were only given the high-level business requirements for the program and design mockups. Detail requirements were implied by Allure’s design, but we had to think beyond those implications to determine how each function would actually work for the end-user as well as the administrator.

Setting Expectations
This exercise is critical to the success of a project as it sets expectations for both the client and the developer; we all need to be on the same page so there are no surprises when the work is completed. Due to our exhaustive conceptualization and our client’s feedback, we reached a sufficient level of clarity which allowed us to deliver the expected project on time and within budget.

Third Mind’s Team
Our internal team was comprised of a Client Contact (who was also provide project management and quality assurance testing), Designer, Front-end Developer, and 2 Programmers. The programmers split contained functions, and co-produced those that over-lapped. The Client Contact and one of the Programmers co-developed the various supporting documentation – including specs, user manuals, application diagrams, and administrative cheat sheets.

Allure’s Team
The client’s team was managed by the Key Contact who served as liaison between Allure’s editor, marketing department, program designer, IT department and various technical 3rd party service representatives. The Key Contact ensured expectations across key stakeholders were consistent, provided review support and feedback, assessed last minute changes for validity / risk, and handed off management to the marketing department for program launch.

Planning and Development
Given the limited development timeframe (3 months), we worked backward to determine milestones for initial configuration, design integration, functional specifications, development, 3rd party integration, testing and deployment.

We ran design integration on a parallel track with functionality specifications. Custom theme & template development followed, with custom functions next and 3rd party integration after that.

Program Prep through Post Launch
The last few weeks prior to completion were spent on internal testing, client review and revisions.

Post launch, we remained available for tech support as needed. At program’s completion, we provided final system documentation so Allure could manage the program in the future.

Quality Assurance
The Quality Assurance (QA) test processes were extensive as all program “view” states required review. Initial internal testing was first run by Third Mind to root out and fix any bugs. Once the application stability was assured, Allure staff reviewed and requested final revisions prior to going live. This cycle took roughly 3 weeks as last minute changes were assessed. Changes with limited risk were introduced up to a week before development froze prior to implementation. During this review period, the client staff was trained to enter final approved content so they could take over the administration of the project. 

Program Launch
The morning the program launched, we gathered with the Allure team and watched the clock countdown to begin the first blogging challenge. As the program ran, we monitored, observed and finessed a few minor points as the program played out as anticipated. Our team was swept up in the excitement as we voted for our favorites. (Third Mind’s contestant didn’t win, but we still enjoyed the process!)

16

Team Members

96

Requirements

435

Tasks Completed

The Technical Solutions We Applied

  • WordPress Content Management System
  • Custom Theme based on client’s Custom Design
  • Custom Plug-ins (Contest, Voting & Sweepstakes, Reporting)
  • Multiple program states based on countdown timers and status of contestants
  • Multiple points of Third Party interface
  • Developed on Third Mind’s servers; staged and deployed on client’s servers
  • Client-specified SVN / repository utilized for version control
Beauty Marks

Our relationship with Condé Nast Publications began in 1998 when we assisted Bon Appétit with the development of their online Bingo Card functionality. Over the years, our relationship expanded to preferred vendor status as various titles sought our development support for marketing sites and targeted advertiser / social / email campaigns.

3

Custom Plug-ins

7

Custom Templates

8

Program States

17

Admin Functions

14

External Interfaces

What We Enjoyed About This Project

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