Here's a transcript of our interview with Ben.
So first off, could you tell us what the Kentico Quality Expert is?
In a nutshell, it is an award given to Kentico Gold Partners that can build to the highest standards following Kentico’s best practice. It recognises that the Kentico websites we produce are of the highest quality and exceed our customers needs. From a personal point of view, it’s also nice to know that we can build what we say we can build!
In the UK, out of 107 partners only 9 are quality experts, so we are now in the top 10% of UK partners.
Importantly, the accreditation is not just awarded on the back of pure code analysis. Kentico also consider UX, design and the end user, so it is a measure of all aspects of a web project not just the underlying code.
How does that benefit Quba’s customers?
Hopefully our customers already recognise they are getting a high-quality product, but now we have the credentials to back this up. Using Quba means you will have a solidly built system that will stand the test of time; it is built in the way Kentico wanted it to be built. Upgrades and updates will be more straightforward and cost less.
In the highly unlikely event that a customer should wish to move away from us, they can take their site to another developer safe in the knowledge that it can easily be transferred and maintained. No locked down bespoke monstrosities to see here!
What was the process and how long did it take?
End-to-end the process took about three months (which doesn’t include the time to build the projects), which involved Kentico auditing two live sites we had built. The audit itself includes scoring the frontend, configuration, architecture and customizations in granular detail. Each item is scored out of ten to give an overall percentage score. A pass score is 70% and both of our projects scored over 80%.
Firstly, you need to have at least two projects that meet the criteria set out by Kentico; they must be on the Ultimate license and not be older than the latest two major versions. Also, the sites must be more than simple brochureware. This isn’t specifically listed in the requirements, but as the audit looks at how Kentico was utilised if there is nothing to audit then it is unlikely that a pass will be achieved.
Once we had decided on which projects to submit, we informed Kentico we wanted to apply, and they put the wheels in motion.
For the first part of the audit, we got to decide on which project to submit. Once we’d filled in a questionnaire detailing items such as project length, integrations and backend setup, Kentico validated whether the project was valid to audit. Once it had passed this step, we sent the code and database to Kentico to enable them to run the site and fully examine it. This step took around 6 weeks to complete, and at the end we received a report detailing any improvements and whether it had passed; thankfully it had!
The second site was the same process as the first, except that we gave Kentico a list of projects to choose from. Again, this took around 6 weeks, and the second site passed so we became fully certified.
How did you decide which projects to put forward?
Obviously not all our Kentico clients require the features on Ultimate or above, and the Base license is fine for them. Therefore, we discounted these projects from the off as they didn’t fit the requirements for the audit.
From our pool of projects on Ultimate or above, we looked at the ones we thought had the best story and where we had extended Kentico in interesting ways.
Our first submission was Colosseum Dental, a complete rebuild project. Colosseum came to Quba as they needed a new website to help customers discover their 100 or so dental practices and treatments, and for prospective employees to find vacancies and find information on working for the company.
In addition to a slick brand-new design to match their brand, we utilised Kentico by building custom form controls, custom modules and custom web parts to allow them to manage the site independently.
As I mentioned earlier, for the second project Kentico get to choose from a selection that we put forward. In this case they chose Grosvenor, a global property group that came to Quba to rebuild their website so they could implement their new brand.
The interesting thing about Grosvenor is they wanted almost complete control over each page, so the templates had to be completely editable and fluid. We came up with some interesting templates using the portal engine and ended up building close to 50 web parts!
Other than getting the accreditation, did you learn anything else in the process?
The report that Kentico produce is super detailed and contains some useful insights. For example, they had some guidance on how we could tweak the caching to make the sites even more speedy. We can use this knowledge for not only the sites we have built, but also in the future.
If you were to do it again, would you do anything differently?
I’d be more patient! Three months is quite a long process, and I totally understand why it takes this amount of time; they want to be thorough. However, it wasn’t easy waiting for the result to come through, so next time I round I would force myself to be more chilled out.
So that’s all for now then?
No! The Quality Expert status lasts for 2 years, but we’ve got more we want to achieve with Kentico. There are other accreditations, such as Integration and Azure, that we want to gain, as well as getting more recent members of the team certified in Kentico. As a development team, we want to continually progress.