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Intro to Wikia’s Development Process

VickyC October 12, 2011 User blog:VickyC

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Hi Wikians! I'm Vicky, and for those of you who haven't met me before, I have been driving Wikia’s Project Management initiative on the Engineering team since late 2008.

I'd like to give you a short introduction to how we work with development processes and project management at Wikia — I think this will help you understand how Wikia staff members make decisions about what projects we work on and why.

Blog pic

Our development team helps keep the gears of Wikia moving! (CC courtesy of RalphBijker http://www.flickr.com/photos/17258892@N05/2588347668/ )

Project Management at WikiaEdit

Project Managers work on the Engineering team, collaborating with team members from our Product, Design and Community Support teams as well.

Wikia Project Management for our Product Development teams is light, agile, and iterative. We are all about finding the straight line that connects two dots — the fastest and most simple way to deliver the right product.

Road Maps for Product DevelopmentEdit

Our Product Development teams are always changing and evolving with Wikia’s needs. When I first joined the company, these needs were different than they are today, much like our wikis. In the past, we’ve worked in Development Cycles of 2-4 weeks (similar to sprints), and assigned new teams to new projects each cycle. Currently, we have assigned our Product Development teams to work on slightly more long-term road maps (set of projects), covering initiatives related to our wikis and users.

A couple of examples of initiatives we see today are “Wikia Mobile” and “Wikia API”. In another 3 months, it's likely that several of our road maps will have been changed or tweaked, and the same goes for our team assignments.

BalanceEdit

Within each project, we strive to find the right balance between time, cost, and quality. We work to deliver the best possible feature to our users, as early as possible and with as high quality as possible. (Read more on this topic here).

Instead of attempting to answer all the product questions when we’re first developing new features, we learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t work from how our users interact with them. Some of the most important tweaks are done after we've gained insights from our community. Sometimes we tweak the look or the behavior (or both) after studying how users interact with a new feature on a few (test) wikis, or after receiving feedback from you.

We spend a significant portion of our development time on testing new features before they go live on the site, but some bugs are harder than others to identify during development and unfortunately aren’t evident until the feature is released.

On each team, we aim to find the right balance between developing new features and maintaining existing features on our wikis. On a weekly basis, we set aside time and resources for bug fixes and tweak requests to features already live on the site. Check out our Technical Updates blog posts to see what we’re working on weekly.

To accommodate larger bug fixes or tweak requests, we schedule a break from our project work every so often. We use these breaks to also make time for our 2-day “hack-a-thons” for our engineers. Sometimes the hacks become features that get released on the site (such as Wikia Emoticons); sometimes they remain crazy, cool ideas on paper — ideas that inspire us to think outside the box as we build out our road maps for next set of months.

Questions?Edit

I am more than happy to answer your questions about the development process at Wikia — I know it’s a lot to digest in one blog post. Please leave your comments or questions below!

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