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How an open mindset can boost the evolution of a continuous development platform

This blogpost was originally posted on Marzee Labs blog.

A fruitful partnership can be decisive for the success of a project. Finding the right balance between both sides is extremely important, but more than that, promoting an environment where all actors involved strive for the same goals, can really make a difference.

We've already talked about how it can be difficult for a business to find the right tech partner to develop/improve their web platform and drive the business to success. The same is true for companies providing web development services, like us. Not all partners see web development companies as part of the team, but rather as merely executors and service providers.

When we do find that dreamy partner, one that really makes us feel like part of the team, it feels like we found a soulmate. This is happening with us and we are very happy to have established a partnership with

We've started to work with them last year, being responsible for evolving their web platform, back then still in a Beta phase. Since then, we have strengthened our relationship and we have made meaningful progress in the platform.

In this post, we aim to share a successful example of how an open mindset can empower the team involved and boost the evolution of a continuous development platform.

What is Parlia?

Parlia is an encyclopedia of opinion. They believe there is a finite number of arguments about everything and, with the help of a global community, they want to map them all. More than that, Parlia wants to help people to understand their own beliefs, and the beliefs around them.

They want to make this a community effort and most importantly to have it available to everyone. What better place to do this than the internet, right?

At Parlia's website, you can find a list of questions about relevant global topics. All the opinions are well structured on a map. Each question has a set of different opinions, organized in what they call positions. To support each position, there is a list of detailed arguments.

From the beginning, it was very important to make the web platform as intuitive as possible, so people can relate to it. User Experience and performance are both significant aspects of this web platform.

The technical requirements of the Parlia web platform

When we started working at the Parlia website, it was in a beta phase. From a technical point of view, we had many challenges to tackle and opportunities for improvement. At this moment, it was key to have direct communication with the people behind Parlia to understand their priorities, their short term and long term goals and thus draw a plan of action for the following months in close collaboration with the Parlia team.

As you can imagine, the requirements and challenges of such a web platform are diverse. It’s not enough to have an optimized structure and smooth experience for people interacting with the platform, it's important to assure a strong technological ground as well.

It was clear that we had a lot of work to enhance consistency throughout the platform. Both from a User Interface and User Experience point of view and from technical architecture in order to prepare the platform for fast scalability.

Main improvements

The first step was to set up a cloud application platform as a server and to create a staging environment. The staging environment enables developers, designers and QA teams to perform tests and, most importantly, to gather feedback from all actors involved before pushing it to production. It's key for any type of project, but it becomes crucial for continuous development projects.

In terms of priorities, having a visual appealing web platform was very important, but it was even more urgent to improve the overall experience of the end-user when interacting with questions, positions and arguments.

As an example, we aimed for a more intuitive user interface for the maps of opinions, making sure that the end-user can easily navigate through positions and arguments and still be aware of where he is in relation to the question/opinion.

In the overall, it was key to follow with User Interface/User Experience (UI/X) improvements both to editors and end-users in order to facilitate the use of the website and make it easy to understand the information shared.

Promoting consistency between the frontpage and admin sections was a big upgrade for the platform and very important to provide a better experience for the people working behind the curtains. More than that, it was key to improve the administrative functions, aiming for a better management experience for admin accounts and enabling them to keep track of new content and new users.

All of these improvements were made in close collaboration between the Parlia and Marzee Labs teams. Parlia's openness to receiving and following our suggestions made the whole process smooth and grateful.

"Far from purely delivering the work we asked for, they (Marzee Labs) kept coming back with new ideas and suggestions for optimising our design and approach, almost all of which we took on board and implemented."

Source: Parlia, Founder.

This open environment and partnership mindset also enabled a revamp of the platform technical structure in order to improve the developer experience and prepare the platform for a new phase.

As we moved forward with the priorities set by the Product Owner, our team pressed for a significant code revamp. We were very clear in stating that functional code is fundamental to achieving better performance, speed and greater results on search engines.

The transparent relationship we had made the difference here and we were able to follow with:

  • modernization of JS/CSS infrastructure;
  • markup and styles cleanup which improved consistency for the end-user and maintainability;
  • website optimization for a reliable and quick loading experience;
  • consistency of image uploads system;
  • implement an automatic build process to optimize deployments and releases, having the process less subjected to human error.

These steps didn't just make the developer experience much better, it had a direct impact on the website performance and on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Why a tech partner?

During this process, the key ingredient for the smooth progress and high-quality results we achieved is the environment that was created from the beginning.

The openness from the Parlia team to receiving suggestions and changing priorities to achieve bigger goals made a difference in making us feel like part of their team.

Parlia and Marzee Labs are working as part of the same team towards the same final goal. This is what makes this collaboration so successful.

Are you ready for a tech partner?

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