A little insight on the development of the ISO Interactive website. Hooking up SmartFoxServer and HTML5 and making it work across all platforms for a seamless experience.
Reinventing the ISO experience
Platform:HTML5, SmartFoxServer 2x, Onvert, Desktop, Mobile, Tablet, MySQL, & PHP
ISO Interactive related articles:
- Mixing HTML5 with other Tech (virtual world updates) > Mar 7, 2014
- Building the NEW ISO Site > Mar 26, 2013
Making a good site a great community.
Although keeping up with the trends is important, it is even more important for us to create our own by using modern techniques to expand a unique presence across major devices. A stronger social interaction is needed to keep users engaged with the ISO brand and increase the overall usefulness of the site.
Create once and publish everywhere. This virtual world site is natively designed to work on web, mobile, and tablets. It works on whatever you have and reconfigures itself to that device.
The ISO site is pure HTML5, including a full blog, social plugins, and incorporates the use of a powerful multi-user technology called SmartFoxServer 2. Basically our site is a virtual world, blog, and portfolio all rolled into one.
Why would we do this, you ask? Because people want be engaged. And engagement translates to real business opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy what we do, but we love getting paid to do it.
Stuff to know:
Let’s break down some of the technologies and techniques to explain our thought process behind the new ISO site.
- HTML5 – allows for a full, rich featured set with no client side plugins. It also allows multiple complete versions of the site for modern Desktops (mac, pc), iOS devices (iPad, iPhone), and Android devices (phones, tablets). Develop once and publish everywhere. Well that is all fine and dandy, however why will people want to see it or even more importantly, come back? Her are some of the reasons why:
- Social – Features are added through the site in a number of different forms. Many think social is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and stuff like that. But it can be much, much more. It’s about engaging, communicating, sharing, and such. We believe we opened up an opportunity to allow people to be social on these and other levels. For us social is both real-time and asynchronous activities. We added several of these.
- Social real-time – Allows each major page of the site to be a virtual world section. This technology is supported with the new websocket features of SmartFoxServer + HTML5. Once you enter the site a little avatar pops up. Yeah, that little guy is you. And you will be able to do lots of cool stuff. Each month we add a new feature that you can find by using the Onvert app (http://onvert.com/get-the-app/) for your tablet or mobile device. The QR code will show an augmented reality scene that gives you details on the new feature. That was for the high-tech audience. Low-tech can just go to the blog and find the updates. Anyhow, these updates will happen at least once a month and they can be things like a new game or function in the virtual world, a special feature your avatar controls, or even brand new avatars. So have fun and explore!
- Social feedback – Is basically incorporating comments to many of the pages. This encourages people to post their communications.
- Social share / follow us – Is the typical share this link or page with your other social outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even old-school email. We also have our own Facebook and Twitter feeds if you would like to follow us.
Making a dollar outta fifteen cents:
Within the context of this project we describe how we built it with a very finite budget and timeline. It was not easy because solutions to the ideas that we have often don’t exist. But I must say much of business is about relationships. If you don’t have lots of money then you need to build up your partners and spark life and inspiration in your people (or employees/contractors).
This project would have cost a great deal if it had been done for a client. But I can say we actually did it for pennies on the dollar.
- Know first – There are a number of “Know Firsts” such as knowing technology, techniques, and what is really possible or reasonable. And then there is knowing the reason why you are using these techniques. Then there is knowing the right people and partners to work and deal with (see Reasonably priced resources below). But the right partners are the ones you can trust and can trust you.
- Bartering – They have something you need and you have something they need. That reduces your cost greatly. I can go into this part forever but I only have 15 mins to finish this article!
- Reasonably priced resources – ISO usually works only with individuals that we have known for years or have been highly recommended to us by trusted sources. These individuals are great. They are multi talented, honest, work really hard and more than often are very creative. They actually enjoy the challenge. So they go the extra mile for ISO at a reasonable cost. And they believe in our cause.
- Keeping the team nimble – This is very important because it will reduce the cost a great deal. The majority of the site was developed by a team of 3 primary team members, along with other individuals being used for smaller specific tasks. It consisted of one individual that new general web technology and could render 3D scenes, a SmartFoxServer expert that new a ton of technology stuff (to support many odd parts of the site), and the project manager that had very clear goals who actually finished the final site designs (a designer turned developer, turned manager).
- Doing stuff yourself – The owner of the company was actually the Project Manager. Not a typical manager. But one that believes that we do what we have to do to get things done. So if it reasonably makes sense for you to do it, then do it. And for the things you don’t have time for or are beyond your skill set, then hire people better than yourself.
- A funny story about doing it yourself – The original web designer (user interface / Photoshop guy) typically works on million-dollar sites. But he wanted to help design something fresh and new. The problem was the commitment to time was too great. So what do you do? You get the first drafts out. The original concepts out of idea phase and into an actual design. That is probably one of the hardest things to do when starting a visual project.
- The rough design concept was now digital and could now be refined (internally) to a much more polished version. That version, or elements of that version, could then be made into templates templates for other site sections. So pay for the time we had and if possible (if you have enough talent) finish the rest with the internal group.
- Preparing – Knowing beforehand how much is to be done helps the process. Before the designs were created we made sure that it was possible, flexible, and covered our goals. Once that was determined it actually shifted the direction of the project. Plans were created and designs were finished before development even started. Although we all know clients add a layer costs, you can save a portion of it by keeping things continually moving and minimizing delays for project information and approvals. This can save you up to 70% of your costs.
- Keeping flexible – Because there is always something that does not work. So keep focused on the primary goals and if you can not do all of A, B, and C, maybe you can do A, B, and D instead.
Thanks and this is all the time I have, but be sure to check out the site as it is growing with content and fun!
Please feel free to contact us to discuss this or similar types of projects.
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