Polonetworks is a global membership organisation and central agency to the polo industry.

In 2008 they launched a social networking website to enhance the services offered to their worldwide membership base.

Friends of mine, at an agency called FriendsOfOurs, were commissioned to produced this web application and felt they needed programming production expertise to match their design skills.

Consultation

I was drafted in at pitch stage consulted on the pitch, and contributed to the discussion on the choice of platform. A number of small prototypes were built to test whether the required functionality could be achieved and eventually a decision was made to use Dolphin, which is primarily used as a platform for dating software.

Production

Once the production phase had begun my main responsibility was to manage the developing team with their tasks although I did also take on the delivery of a few sections myself.

The feature set is similar to most social networking situations :

  • Member Profiles
  • Messaging

with the addition of two unique elements :

  • A Global Polo Directory
  • Interactive Fixtures List

The last two items listed here demanded a reasonable amount of Javascript and I was only to happy to get stuck into some wok with the Yahoo User Interface library and Google maps after spending so much time building prototypes and learning how they work.

Working with the client

Managing snags and issues was achieved through a web based issue manager, as usual, and this has proven a very useful tool moving forward, post launch, into the support stage.

An approach that has worked here is the client logs issues onto the manager and these are limited to 10 open issues at any time. This prevents the list of things to do next from growing too long and promotes prioritisation. The developer working with me estimates the time for each of them and our friends at the agency put the cost forward to the client. This may cause some of the priorities to be rejigged and one day a week is scheduled to accomlish these. I have found this to be an excellent way of promoting client involvement without being counter productive.

The work continues

Moving forward, as Facebook has dominated this landscape, we are looking at the potential of integrating the unique parts of the site as custom Facebook applications and letting the profile and messaging parts be handed by those that have proven to do them the best.