A creative agency approached us with an interesting proposal for a project: How I Met My Dog, a service that partners with local animal shelters and uses canine personality testing to help match dogs with their perfect owners. Our creative partner had already built out the designs for the site, and their client had plans for the matching algorithm. Now all they needed was the business and engineering talent to get the app off the ground and oversee its development from start to finish. All that being right up our alley (and our team being dog lovers!), we jumped at the opportunity.
From its very start, we knew that How I Met My Dog would be a complex jigsaw puzzle of an application with lots of interlocking pieces. There were lots of sharp eyes on our work, including our creative partner, the regional animal shelters, the project’s data scientist, and most importantly, the end-users. We understood that collaboration – and lots of it – would be key to this project’s success.
To start, we carefully vetted each of our creative partner’s designs and gave constructive feedback – paying close attention to consistency, cost-effectiveness, and industry best practices. Designs are like half-finished blueprints: they provide a good outline sketch of the application’s layout and its visual style; the unfinished piece is the business logic that will power the whole thing and provide value to the customer. That’s where we come in as engineers and consultants. For How I Met My Dog, we took what we saw in the designs and translated it into a full-fledged product scope, complete with functional specifications, price estimates, and cost-benefit analyses. This empowered the client to think more concretely about their goals on the project, how they wanted to spend their budget, and which aspects of the project still needed to be fleshed-out or changed.
With the designs nailed down, we started meeting with the client’s technical lead. We provided architectural guidance that would ensure that our app could integrate with their matching algorithm while remaining scalable. We put together a cloud-hosted infrastructure that would be both reliable and easy to maintain. Finally, we provided the client’s technical lead with detailed documentation on our project, which helped to streamline the development process between our team and the client.
How I Met My Dog is a startup with rapidly shifting requirements, so we wanted to make sure that we’d be able to build quick iterations of the app as their business needs developed. To that end, we decided to go with a tried-and-true tech stack that allowed us to iterate rapidly and efficiently while keeping overhead to a minimum. Built on a Laravel backend and a ReactJS frontend, How I Met My Dog uses phpunit for test coverage, vagrant for environment configuration, and AWS for deployment.
Sure enough, feedback from everyone involved was both plentiful and exceedingly useful, allowing us to focus our development efforts on the features that mattered most. We have custom-built project management tools which were invaluable here, allowing us to stay on schedule and within budget as requirements and priorities changed.
With shifting requirements, communication becomes all the more important. It’s paramount that everyone involved be on the same page, so we made sure to regularly provide the client (and our partner) with status updates, project health reports, and check-ins to ensure everyone is properly aligned.
Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we launched How I Met My Dog a few months back and they’ve been steadily adding regions and collecting beta feedback from their users. Perfection being a moving target, we’ve been continuing to help them iterate on the site, improving old features, adding new ones, and addressing the concerns of their users as they come up.
In many ways, How I Met My Dog was the perfect project for us. We got to work with a creative partner who we love, on a project with interesting technical challenges, with an end goal of bringing happiness to dogs and humans. If that’s what you’re about too, we’d love to partner up, so please reach out!
In the meantime, you can check out How I Met My Dog at: https://www.howimetmydog.com/
How I Met My Dog was also featured in an Associated Press article! Check it out here.