“The SmartPath development platform has proven to be robust, yet flexible at the same time. Over the past 3 years, our product team has relied on it to manage the user experience, introduce many new products and features, as well as rapidly expand our brand’s coverage to the many mobile devices entering the market.”
- Andrew Osmak, SVP of Business Development & New Ventures, Lavalife
Lavalife is the number one website for online dating in Canada and is ranked among the top 10 dating sites worldwide. A leading provider of products and services designed for singles, Lavalife connects, engages and entertains through a variety of web, voice and mobile offerings, attracting millions of unique members. Founded in 1987, Lavalife Corp. markets its products and services across the United States, Canada and Australia.
An early pioneer of online dating, Lavalife has realized the importance of the mobile channel when many of its competitors were looking elsewhere for growth. The company embraced the medium as an alternative engagement channel for its existing customers. Lavalife saw that mobile could become an effective channel to introduce new audiences to the Lavalife’s range of services, and convert them into subscribers of multiple products.
By late 2006, the company already operated a number of chat, text and web services on mobile devices. To bring their marquee mobile service, Lavalife2go, as well as other mobile offerings to the masses, Lavalife secured distribution deals with the major North American carriers. To utilize these distribution channels, Lavalife’s mobile products had to be compatible with about 95% of all web-enabled handsets in North America. In addition, the company had to evolve Lavalife2go from a standalone service into a rich, fully integrated mobile extension that seamlessly interfaced with the Lavalife online service.
Launching mobile web services on a variety of carriers proved to be a formidable challenge, as Lavalife’s team of skilled web developers was not accustomed to the multi-faceted fragmentation of mobile development. Dealing with numerous handsets specifications, screen sizes, browser capabilities, differing protocols, and carrier style guidelines became challenging as Lavalife’s carrier distribution network grew.
Lavalife’s management began searching for ways to streamline their mobile web development process, so that the company could focus on what it did best – building and marketing fun and engaging dating services. At the same time, the dating company believed in synergistic effects of evolving mobile and web services side by side and wanted to gain the ability to manage most of its mobile initiatives internally. Finding a partner with robust, carrier-grade mobile development solution that could integrate with Lavalife’s content and business intelligence systems became of strategic importance.
After evaluating various options, Lavalife licensed SmartPath, Trilibis’ proprietary mobile publishing platform, to streamline its in-house development efforts. The company also chose to leverage Trilibis’ deep understanding of the mobile space and hired its professional services team to get Lavalife2go off the ground – including design, product management, QA and IT. The combination of platform license and development services provided Lavalife with a fully integrated, device optimized version of Lavalife2go, accompanied by a set of comprehensive development tools to hone and improve it in-house.
Seamless experience for all users
For its core product Lavalife2go, the company desired to provide an engaging and seamless experience for all subscribers, regardless of whether they accessed the service on a PC or a mobile device. To achieve that, Trilibis extended many of the online features, such as profile search, picture galleries and communication functions to the mobile environment. Creating a mobile experience that was consistent with Lavalife’s existing interfaces and integrated with core functionality improved engagement and increased the level of interaction between mobile web and PC web users. Once Trilibis completed the development of Lavalife2go, the code base was handed over to Lavalife to be maintained internally. With SmartPath, the dating company was well positioned to manage its mobile product life cycle in-house.
Carrier-grade development solution
With dating services distributed through many carrier catalogs in the US and Canada, Lavalife relied on SmartPath to meet the numerous submission requirements. The development platform combines powerful rendering technology with extensive device, browser and carrier libraries. This combination enabled Lavalife to easily adhere to the specific technical and design guidelines, such as footer, billing and branding specifications, without jeopardizing the usability and stability of the service and its numerous carrier-specific permutations. As a result, Lavalife was able to quickly navigate through the rigorous testing administered by the carriers prior to acceptance of their dating services into the content catalogs. “The SmartPath development platform has proven to be robust, yet flexible at the same time,” says Andrew Osmak, Senior VP of Business Development and New Ventures at Lavalife. “Over the past 3 years, our product team has relied on it to manage the user experience, introduce many new products and features, as well as rapidly expand our brand’s coverage to the many mobile devices entering the market.”
Built-in support for new handsets
Trilibis regularly maintains and updates its comprehensive device database with details of new handsets entering the market, so that developers don’t have to worry about screen-by-screen, device-by-device porting. The SmartPath platform then references device specifications to encode content at run-time so that it is truly appropriate for the device. “We don’t have to worry about the 6000 devices that access our services already. Nor do we worry about any upcoming devices,” explains Andrew. “The SmartPath platform takes care of that.”
Easy to use authoring tool
“Initially, we expected only our engineers to use SmartPath,” says Andrew, “but we discovered that the platform’s authoring tool, SmartBuilder, was very user-friendly.” After a 2 hour hands-on workshop led by the company engineers, Lavalife product managers and web designers were able to create mobile websites that met their requirements. Gaining control over the front-end layer cultivated a sense of ownership, as members of the mobile product team were empowered to test their ideas and experiment with features, layout and messaging. Since then, Lavalife’s product managers relied on SmartBuilder to create over 100 promotional sites, involving engineering only when connections to Lavalife’s core web services were needed.
Intuitive separation between business logic and UI layer
Lavalife found that SmartPath architecture separated business logic from the presentation layer enabling independent development, testing and maintenance of each. The company already followed the MVC (Model-View-Controller) approach for traditional web development and was pleased that the methodology could be applied to its mobile development. The separation of the business logic and the UI layer was intuitive, and fit well with Lavalife’s operational structure.
A responsive and experienced partner
“Having Trilibis as a technology partner is great,” says Andrew. “They always look for ways to improve the platform, and are responsive when new features are needed. Aside from technical expertise, their input on product design, marketing and distribution in the mobile space has been invaluable.”
Full control over mobile roadmap
Over the years, Lavalife developed a strong product management process and wanted to extend it to their mobile initiatives. By licensing SmartPath, the company upgraded their mobile development capabilities, so that the full mobile product life cycle could now be managed in-house. Over the course of 12 months, Lavalife was able to launch 11 new mobile dating products, each integrated with Lavalife’s many web services, analytics and business intelligence systems and subscription billing. “With SmartPath our mobile product development and maintenance process became more focused, more efficient,” says Andrew Osmak, Senior VP of Business Development and New Ventures at Lavalife. “For the first time, we could truly say that we were in full control over our mobile roadmap.”
ABOUT TRILIBIS MOBILE: Trilibis Mobile is a leading provider of mobile development solutions and services to online brands, media companies, service providers and carriers. To support its development efforts, Trilibis created SmartPath®, a robust and flexible mobile publishing platform that enables businesses to bring their brands and services to the mobile world via highly customizable mobile web applications, promotional programs and sites tailored to over 6,000 handsets. To date, more than 300 mobile sites, generating billions of pageviews, have been developed with SmartPath. Founded in 2002, Trilibis is based in San Mateo, California and has a development center in Singapore. For more information, visit www.Trilibis.com