Case Study: Advisory Platform For Education & Mentoring
Client: US-based product company that works in the education sphere
Business goals: Creation and deployment of a solution for connecting college applicants with mentoring students for college advice; engagement and growth of the user base
Product: US-targeted platform that comprises microservice-based back end with an admin panel; the front end is represented by a React-based website and an iOS application for end users. A twin platform, targeting the specifics of Asian market, was evolved into a separate software product.
Applied technologies: React, Swift, PHP, Yii 2, MySQL, AWS/S3, Nginx, Nchan, Algolia, APNS, Twilio, Mailgun, payment integration (Alipay and Stripe), analytics integration (Flurry, Mixpanel, FB, Branch), signup APIs (Facebook, Google+), manual testing, API autotests (Python), continuous integration (Fabric, Jenkins, Ansible), UI/UX design, Agile management framework
Building a platform that connects over 15,000 high schoolers
with over 1,000 college mentors across the US
The clients, two seasoned entrepreneurs, addressed us already having an existing platform at hand. Though it had accumulated a certain user base, it was dated, with limited functionality and lack of support for mobile devices. However, the critical point lay in significant architectural constraints, which prevented it from growth.
The vision presented by the clients during the initial discussions went far beyond these constraints, and the product had to undergo fundamental changes to make this vision tangible—basically, it had to be rewritten from scratch and seamlessly transitioned to a new architecture, application development best practices. Within the product, our goal was to make communication and information exchange as easy as possible. The core of it all is the host of posts on different topics that can be initiated, searched for, viewed and commented by users.
Expanding the market with a separate platform
The platform originally targeted the US market, but over time it was clear that high schoolers from Southeast Asia and China needed a standalone platform to connect with US-based mentors for assistance and advice. The simplest solution was to clone the platform and set up a brand new product, which would use a different API and database. This helped us introduce changes and avoid making the code unnecessarily complicated. We cloned the server to a new repository, obtained additional Amazon instances, and both platforms soon became totally self-sufficient.
Continuous integration and enhanced performance
Any product with a large user base has to be stable and reliable. Our initial Ansible-based deployment later evolved into a continuous integration system, which additionally involved Fabric and Jenkins and was boosted with API autotests.
Just as in the case of dividing platforms, we gained flexibility. Depending on whether we needed selective deployment—e.g. a certain block of code or server settings—or full one, it became easy.
One more feature worth noting is real-time notification and chatting based on sockets, which decreased server load and optimized the performance of the product.
Alexey Stulnikov, Tech Lead/QA Engineer
"There were natural concerns about re-building the platform, adding new functionality, building a convenient mobile application, and ensuring the reliability of every step. However, these concerns were balanced out by the clear vision of the final product. Having provided tech advice as for the implementation of this vision, we proceeded to development, while the clients concentrated on their business matters."
"We've always appreciated MobiDev for all the invaluable consulting, for the communication and reporting set up conveniently for us. They never feel like a remote team. They are immediately available for our requests. They are a reliable team that can build complex software from scratch, deliver it strictly on time and later on effectively evolve it. Our own ongoing collaboration with MobiDev fully confirms their professional reputation on the market."
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