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Sharpening Your Axe: Preparing for a Complex Development Process

As your team starts gearing up to develop a complex property, it’s tempting to dive right into production and consider the details along the way. We understand how it can be tempting to show progress by establishing structure, creating templates, and bangin' out code.

Whether it takes the form of an immersive website, a custom data analysis portal, or some other equally sophisticated undertaking, wrapping your head around a property, and the details associated with each step in the process can be overwhelming!

So to help, the Triptych development team has put together this cursory overview of the basic questions necessary for guiding the development of a complex interactive property. If you are still bewildered after reading this, don’t panic. Rather, give us a shout and we will be happy to offer you some one-on-one guidance.

Clarify the Destination

Let’s put it plainly: you wouldn’t undertake a long journey without first consulting a map. During the earliest strategic stages, it’s crucial to establish short, medium, and long-term milestones tied directly to “success” metrics provided by the stakeholders. While on the journey, remember to check these milestones often, verifying that your team is indeed on the right track. Doing so will both help your team steer clear of distractions or scope creep attempting to detract from your primary goals, and give you the ability to make the micro-corrections necessary to ensure you’re traveling in the right direction. Failing to do so may mean fundamental development problems, resulting in unplanned expansions to the budget.

Grasping the Basics

With a rough direction in hand, it’s now important to pause and get some basic info. For instance, have you conducted an autopsy on your past technology stacks? Trust us, we know that people can be sensitive about their work, but that spadework can inform future decisions and save you from repeating past blunders. Similarly, if this property was presented as an iteration of an existing property, have you considered the current property’s development and deployment pain points?

These questions will, inevitably, poke at some tender spots. But we promise that (when satisfactorily addressed) they will save your team from falling prey to the ghosts of yesteryear. Get used to leaning into uncomfortable conversations, as this is where you’ll see the largest gains in process and production with the least amount of effort.

Divvying up the Burdens

Beyond the basics, it’s vital to assign roles and responsibilities. For example, complex properties of almost any size require a technical contact who can oversee any necessary 3rd-party services associated with the property (such as hosting, payment gateways, and integrations). Pro tip: This is no job for a novice — you need someone who can assess, determine, and administer services essential to the function of your property.

While you’re at it, make sure to identify who will be testing the property once the primary development gets pushed to staging. Testing ensures that the flashy features intended for your audience work as expected. To fill this role, seek a QA engineer who knows their stuff but can stay independent of any property politics. Think Switzerland, but with commit permissions.

Post-launch, make sure you have a group of developers ready to squash bugs, push small changes, maintain integrations, and reboot the environment as quickly as possible. Getting the property out the door is just the first step. Moving forward, especially if your property has user-generated content, the need for ongoing support is, often, an overlooked necessity.

Choosing your Weapons

Selecting the right tools and technologies for your property is a critical yet often neglected part of the complex development process. During this process, we’d encourage you to consider the following:

The Cloud vs. Traditional Hosting

Should you wield the power of cloud-based solutions or stick to traditional hosting? Cloud may save some coin and provide significant availability during peak demand, but traditional hosting can provide greater control, security, scalability, and, in certain instances, be a more cost-effective solution.

Plan for the Worst

Backup your property with cloud-based or local storage solutions, redundant environments, and version control solutions. Don’t let calamity catch you unprepared. Back-up your data often and establish clear documentation. You never know when you will have a server that catches fire, or an intern decide to run DROP DATABASE just to “see what it would do.”

Bleeding-Edge Technologies

We love some emerging technologies, but let’s not get carried away. Only incorporate these tools if they serve a purpose or address a need and have production-ready releases. If this is for a paying client, avoid anything in alpha, beta, early release, brand-spankin’-new! And also, before diving in, be aware of the risks these shiny novelties might bring — they are called “emerging” for a reason and have been known to bring down even the most clearly planned out properties.

Artificial Intelligence

Ah, the allure of artificial intelligence! Whether you are using it to analyze data or provide customer service, AI can be a powerful ally. But beware, it is not a magical panacea, designed to solve all your problems. A prudent implementation of AI can as easily streamline the function of an interactive property as a sloppy implementation can bring it to its knees.


The impact of geolocation-dependent elements on your complex development process shouldn’t be ignored. Accuracy, language, currency, accessibility compliance, privacy regulations — every region has its own quirks. Consider them all when creating a localized property for the global stage.

Prepare for Spikes in Traffic

While embarking on your complex development journey, pay close attention to the ebbs and flows of user traffic. By this we mean understanding how many users will access your property during peak hours and thus, how much bandwidth will be required at all times. Bandwidth matters, and if you do anticipate significant shifts in traffic, a cloud-based hosting solution may be the likely the way to go.

Facing the User Hordes

Consider devices, browsers, accessibility, compliance requirements, and certifications as you continue to build toward complexity. Check these as often as possible during the development process to ensure your codebase satisfies these requirements. Failing to keep up with these considerations can result in significant redevelopment or shifts in strategy late in the property. This principle rings doubly true for those looking to dabble in WebGL. When doing so, remember that it is important to consider the maximum GPU load considered acceptable. If you cross that line, visual performance for many non-optimal users will suffer significantly, leaving a bad taste in their mouths. To ensure that the property’s code base will accommodate your users, employ a minimally capable device as a benchmarking testbed. This way, you can discover any potential technical issues upfront and make the necessary adjustments before going live.

Taming the Beast

As we suggested earlier, once launched, maintaining a successful complex development property necessitates implementing a variety of maintenance policies. For example, regularly updating and managing codebase documentation, as well as overseeing API connections to ensure they operate efficiently. Further, organizations should also map out their code deployment schedule, taking care to thoroughly test any updates or bug fixes before launching them into production environments. We mention these points, because the launch of a new property is often a time to stand back and survey the good work that your team has already accomplished. But in reality, it’s just the beginning of the journey.

Good luck, and remember, just send up red sparks if you need help.