Our blog

How to Go Off the Grid for Two Weeks. For Real.

In modern agency life, it seems impossible to take a vacation without taking work with you, but it can be done. Here’s how I did it.

Meghan Gardner

Flexbox

As a back-end developer, it can be hard to style a web page. CSS is not very intuitive and around every corner there’s a “gotcha.” Flexbox is a fairly new CSS technology that once mastered, can be much easier to use.

Dan Sudenfield

How to (Successfully) Lead Your First Tech Meetup

There are a number of reasons you might want to start a technology meetup. In order to narrow the focus a bit, we’re going to approach this from the standpoint that you work for (or run) a company that is interested in the idea of hosting a meetup.

Brendan Butts

How Do You Fix a $75,000 Mistake?

As a new marketing manager for a practice group within a consulting firm, I had a lot to learn. And a few of those things, I had to learn the hard way, like making an error that cost the company many tens of thousands of dollars.

Meghan Gardner

Reimagined At Work

When done right, something reimagined is almost magical. It’s not just about integrating a product with another one or allowing for internet connectivity, it’s about taking an existing solution and changing the experience that individuals have, ultimately creating a new kind of experience.

Torrey Fazen

Snapchat

Snapchat launched its first ever TV ad campaign to reposition the app as a camera, which begs the question

Kayla King

The Digital Agency is Dead. Long Live the Digital Agency.

The coming wave of digital de-specialization.

Colin Alsheimer

Tomorrow Comes Today

The coming wave of digital de-specialization.

Dan Zarzycki

Your Next Programming Language (Part 1 of 2)

People often ask “what is the best programming language” to the reply “depends on what you’re doing” – an answer which is paradoxically as true as it is unhelpful.

Ryan Taylor

Making Social Media Politics Great Again

Your uncle will probably never stop posting about his crazy conspiracy theories, but at least now you can rest assured that you won’t be bombarded with sponsored content from illegitimate advertisers.

Nasreen Salem

Six Seconds to Advertise

Whether consumers like it or not, the six second commercial format is here to stay.

Dustin McCormick

Useful Mac Keyboard Shortcuts for a Windows User

There’s a lot of keyboard shortcuts available to a Mac user. As a primarily Windows user, I’ve found a few shortcuts that are extremely helpful as a programmer and may be useful to you too.

Sonya Chen

Animation Trends

When you think of the word “loop,” different definitions might come to mind. You might think of a simple circle, or a rope that’s made into a circle. Maybe it’s a pattern you make while driving, or something else entirely.

Michael Callahan

Stumbling Upon a Twitter Vulnerability

Reading privacy policies on websites and other legal documents are important. I have read Twitter’s privacy policy before but I wanted to make sure nothing had changed. GDPR was coming and seeing how they structured their page and spelled out the details seemed interesting. Starting on help.twitter.com, I went right to the footer. Mouse over the Privacy link and NO click. It looked funny.

Keith Koslowsky

The Alipes Team Vibe

The Alipes team structure and way of working is the most important aspect of how we deliver great solutions to clients. We thrive, believe, and deliver in team. Our norms are about outspoken creativity, inherent curiosity, and effective listening across departments.

Torrey Fazen

From Maryland to Chicago, Alipes is Boston Strong

Boston Strong represents different meanings for different people. Five years after the Boston Marathon Bombing, Alipes reflects on what it means to us.

Kayla King

None of Their Business

There’s an old expression about how good people staying silent is all it takes for evil to triumph. Burger King made a single video that captured the power of a modern distribution channel to spark mainstream conversation about bullying. It’s a corporation using the tools of an upstart movement to deliver a powerful message that staying silent is destructive.

Meghan Gardner

Alipes Opinions

We polled the majority of Alipians and asked them what their favorite social networks were, and why. Most results fell within the big four (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) but the most interesting thing about the results were the reasons why folks preferred their favorite social network.

Brendan Butts

Blockchain 101

The first in a series of posts covering the Blockchain, key players, trends and how the technology can be applied to a variety of industries, including digital media and marketing.

Colin Alsheimer

#DeleteFacebook – Why it Matters for Brands

Facebook is in trouble. As the social media platform deals with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, #DeleteFacebook has gained steam, prompting many to reexamine the role that social media plays in their lives. But what does this mean for brands?

Colin Alsheimer

Don’t Wait, Learn How to Code Now

Anyone can learn how to code, but often people go about it the wrong way. As an accomplished web developer, here are my suggestions on the best ways to learn how to code.

Dan Sudenfield

Limitations Can Drive Innovations

Limitation of the design systems of yesterday gave rise to the internet technologies of today.

Jason Tennis

Networking

If you’re a Resistant Prisoner like me, but you see the value of networking, rest assured that you’re not the only one. In fact, you’re already taking steps toward improving, just by reading this.

Sonya Chen

A Trick to Clearly Communicate with Developers and in Teams

Communication is key, and software development is no exception. Anyone who has worked with developers knows how tricky communication can be, whether they are talking about bugs, new features or even layout.

Ryan Taylor

Audience Centric Advertising

The best digital advertising remembers who the audience is.

Michael Callahan

One Less App

However, how do you know if program that you just put on your computer is safe? It may be sending information about you out to an unsafe location. The developer may tell you they are collecting this information in their privacy policy. Although, I’m willing to bet you haven’t actually read the privacy policy. Go ahead, admit it.

Keith Koslowsky

When Brands Sell Culture

Advertising is an unavoidable part of life for most people. It’s been with us since we were born, surrounding us on TV, magazines, and billboards—burrowing into our memories. Speaking as an American thirty-something who remembers a time before the internet, ads have always been around.

Dustin McCormick

We’re Honored to be Honored

We believe our work is the hero of our story—and we’re honored to have captured two Davey Awards, awards named for the legendary hero of small stature and big thinking.

Meghan Gardner

Internet Memes

There’s millions of Internet memes, but only the best make it viral. Learn how the concept of natural selection comes into play in the world of memes.

Kayla King

Glad to Meet You

Alipes, the boutique agency reinventing digital for clients large and small, announced today that it has inked new client relationships and established a presence in Chicago.

Meghan Gardner

Pitching Your Employer, Include the Doodles

It’s a random Tuesday and you have a new business idea. It’s just that, an idea. It needs to be fleshed out, nurtured, developed, but it’s a place to start and you are getting excited about the possibilities. Where do you go next? To friends and family for advice? To your business mentor for a brainstorm? What if the next step is even easier, what if you need to look no further than your current employer?

Torrey Fazen

A Coming Change in Traditional Websites

Over the horizon, there is a significant change coming to your web browsing experience. A change that, once it’s pervasive, will seem necessary.

Nathan Lamont

How Not to Make Friends and Influence People

Influencing the people right next to you may be even harder than trying to capture the attention of someone with 500,000 followers. Here’s why.

Meghan Gardner

Developing as a Developer

There are so many solutions that developers accumulate over their careers. Each one of these solutions can be abstracted and potentially applied to a number of situations. The more solutions a developer has come across, the more solutions they have available to them when they encounter a particularly tough problem.

Brendan Butts

Now Hear This

Check out 37 of the best podcasts to help you become a smarter and more informed digital marketer.

Colin Alsheimer

Tomorrow Comes Today

Every business is different. Every business has different goals and needs. But every client wants to see results as quickly as possible.

In the case of website or app development, we can bring tomorrow ever closer to today by using the next evolution of the Agile process. It’s called continuous development, and it dramatically improves technical time-to-market.

For this post, I enlisted the help of fellow “Alipian” and Senior Technical Lead, Brendan Butts.

What is Continuous Development

Continuous development presents an iterative approach to development by building software and releasing that software in pieces. This starts with the build and deployment of core features (typically called the minimum viable product) and iterating/removing/adding functionality from there.

Continuous development can be split up into separate concepts: integration, delivery, and testing.

Continuous Integration (CI)

When a member of a development team starts working on a new feature, they typically create a branch of the most up-to-date source code, code the feature, and then their changes are merged back into the main source code repository.

This approach can lead to conflicts if the code in the main repository has changed greatly while the new feature was being developed (typically due to other features that other developers were working on having been merged in).

Continuous integration seeks to reduce the amount of time a code branch goes without being integrated into the main source code. With CI, developers are encouraged to integrate their changes into the main source code multiple times a day.

Continuous Delivery (CD)

CD is an approach to development aimed at reducing the length of development cycles and having more of them. The goal is to ensure that new code can be released at any time, with high confidence of it performing the way it is expected.

This involves incremental updates to applications that are oft deployed to the production environment after being tested automatically on a staging server, using rigorous test cases. It is important for the deployment process to be a fully automated “push button” solution.

There are three key elements that CD provides:

  1. Visibility
  2. Feedback
  3. Continuous deployment

Visibility means that all aspects of the build/deploy/test/release process are visible to the entire team.

Feedback means developers are made aware of issues as soon as they occur, when the code they just wrote is fresh in their minds. This allows the developer to fix the issue quickly.

Continuous deployment means the automated process that allows the release of new improvements or fixes to the production environment.

The book “Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation” provides more technical detail than we ever could in a reasonable blog post, if you are interested in taking a deeper dive. A copy sits on our shelves.

Benefits to using Continuous Development

There are a number of benefits to operating under continuous development.

It gets to the user faster

This is the benefit that is the most obvious. With a traditional digital project, the launch of the website or app is the last thing that happens. If you have a project running a full calendar year, for example, the user doesn’t see the finished product until closer to November or December. That stinks!

With continuous development, you can get a version of the site to a user much earlier in that calendar year and then iterate through the year, capturing feedback all the way.

Because the model is more collaborative and faster moving, we have even seen cases where it has resulted in a shorter timeline for delivery of everything originally scoped!

Seeing and touching

We maintain that sometimes it is difficult to fully understand how something functions until you are in the driver’s seat — compare this to watching a car in action on a commercial versus taking one for a test drive.

It can be difficult to understand how design or requirements align with an individual’s expectations until after it is available to be touched and used. Continuous delivery allows a user or stakeholder to identify any gaps in understanding early and fix them prior to the end of a project.

Experimentation and User testing

On a similar note to the above point, continuous development opens the door for further creativity and user testing. Direction can shift on the fly, as humble beginnings make way for exciting new ideas.

User feedback can also help identify additional opportunities or places with which an application can do more or do differently.

Unit Testing and Incorporating Feedback

The feedback cycle enabled by continuous delivery, as mentioned earlier, provides a developer with immediate feedback about the code they just wrote. After the code is integrated and deployed to the staging environment, automated unit tests are run, which test core functionality of the application. If there is an error, or something behaving improperly, the developer will be made aware and they can fix their code.

This isn’t the only kind of feedback though. Problems in the deployment due to software libraries or configuration changes, or database migrations, will all be reported on to the developer.

Then of course, there is the user feedback which can come from internal teams reviewing the new software and performing acceptance tests, or from actual clients of the application.

It’s Satisfying!

As a team, everyone involved in the software development lifecycle gets a measure of satisfaction from releasing new features. This satisfaction is often tempered or reduced by bugs, anxiety over the deployment, or low confidence that the feature will perform as expected.

Continuous development reduces bugs, heads anxiety over deployment off before it ever starts by making deployment so routine it’s about as anxiety producing as making a cup of coffee. Automated tests and acceptance tests raise the confidence level of everyone involved in the project as to what the feature is going to accomplish.

Is Continuous Website Development the way to go?

We believe that continuous development is the future and recommend it as the methodology for most projects.

There may be situations in which a more standard “Waterfall” plan is required (Discover → Requirements → Design → Develop → Launch). If you are willing to take a chance on a more iterative and agile approach to building your new website or application, we think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results and by the more immediate returns.

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