We’d been working with CIGNA, as a sub-contractor to Sapient since July 2010. We had overhauled the CIGNA customer portal, and were in the process of finishing up an overhaul of the physician portal, and their search functionality, when, in January 2012, after a team code review, we said to our primary client, half in jest, that we should make the customer portal responsive. At this time the responsive movement was coming into its own and moving from something boutique agencies, and smaller future looking clients were executing, into larger enterprises, running robust web apps.*
When our client came back to us and said, “sure, why not make the customer portal responsive?” we committed to adapting 2+ years of code, built for a desktop, web-app experience to enable it to function in a device agnostic fashion. To add an extra layer of fun, it had to work in a WebSphere Portal/TeamSite production environment. We had jested our way to a big lift, with many, non-responsive-friendly elements to wrangle.
We audited every bit of code that we’d created over the course of the engagement. We used this audit to categorize code types and group them into pattern types. Once we’d identified the patterns we developed a plan for how best to adapt each pattern and reach our responsive goal. We used this audit, our patterns, and CIGNA traffic data to prioritize which elements to tackle first. We then applied our theories to some key pages in our production-ready, local code to develop a proof of concept.
Due to our disciplined development model of reusable, standardized code we were able to move quickly and adjust our existing code for responsive scenarios. Once we had a working POC we presented it to key stakeholders within CIGNA and eventually got buy-off. We applied our patterns to the rest of the code, and made our POC code production ready, and worked though our module and template libraries and delivered a full-featured, full-functioning customer portal (just to remind: this is the portal that an insurance customer uses to review coverages, bills, benefits etc.).
Because we adapted working code, and proved it could be done, first in our local copy, and then in a staged version of the site running on WebSphere/TeamSite, there were no compromises in content and functionality. We delivered in 6 months of actual working time (not including about 3 months of auditing, prioritization, sell-through and POC development).
Prototype. Prototype. Prototype.
Develop your code from the get go in a disciplined, reusable fashion.
Jumble your teams together and let them work one on one to tackle issues and find solutions, break down the walls.
*Responsive refers to utilization of HTML5 and CSS3 to create a web experience that works on a variety of platforms, from mobile phones and tablets to desktops and even web tv — all from a single code base.