Today we officially launched Mali Developer Center at ARM TechCon3 in San Jose, California.

This portal brings together a variety of resources and tools for software engineers writing code for the ARM Mali Graphics Processing Units.

When I began the process of creating this website, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to step back from our standards ways of doing things and see what we might be able to improve both in strategy and implementation. With an already overworked website team in the company, a design team without sufficient time to perform user interface design, and a tight schedule and budget, I decided to see what options existed outside of the company’s resources.

Using references from various colleagues and friends, I started exploring external web design agencies with an eye towards finding one that understood what it meant to design for the audience. In this case, I needed a website that was targeted towards engineers and contained no marketing aspects. The three agencies chosen did basic investigation into what our goals were for the website and identified the target audience.

One design that came back really stood out as exactly what the target audience would understand. The agency, Overland Agency in Portland, Oregon, was awarded the job and began work right away.

The first thing that struck me about Overland Agency was that they did all of those ‘discovery phase’ steps that we’re all supposed to do before embarking on a software/web project but never think we have time to do. The first thing they did is interview some people who represent our target audience (software developers), then they worked up some user personas for the website and example workflows that those users might require. Finally we got final mockups and wireframes against which I held some usability tests to work out the remaining kinks in the overall design and navigation.

We then had a few surprises internally and I found myself needing to hire Overland to actually create our website on top of doing the design work. They achieved greatness, thanks to their most senior engineer giving up his weekends, and only three months from the start of the project we were able to launch a superb website that provided everything our customers needed for developing code on Mali GPUs.

Article about Mali Developer Center

This project really showed how much time and effort can be saved in a project by doing advance discovery work at the beginning of a project. It might feel like a stressful delay to the project kick-off at the time, but getting it right the first time will help to ensure an on-time and (mostly) on-budget product launch.

And if you suffer from insomnia, you can watch a video of the Mali Developer Center in action. (Author’s note: I had never realised how boring I am! Ugh!)