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Jun

6 Considerations in User Experience Design (UXD) Project Planning


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments June 13th, 2017

User Experience Design Project Plan

As fast as the world changes, so does the taste of consumers. Developers then constantly find ways to add new flavors to programs to appeal to users. The happiness of the users has become a priority, and it gets challenging every time as expectations keep getting higher. User Experience (UX) aims to keep up with the trend as the quality of applications catches up. After all, the success of the program depends on the satisfaction of the users.

Not all programs have UX concepts integrated in them since it is a relatively new idea. However, many companies are seeking to incorporate this more into their product. The User Experience Design (UXD) Project Plan serves as a blueprint to guide developers in conducting UX activities. This can mean integrating UX into an existing project or in a new one.

Whatever the changes have to be done, it is important to always have a UXD Project Plan. Not many are familiar with UX Tools and how they work. As a Project Manager or Lead Developer , you must help your clients understand how you are going to go about it. Here is a suggested outline on how to make your UXD Project Plan:

  1. Conduct user research
    In order to integrate UX concepts into a program or product, it is important to first understand the customers. There are two classes of customers you must understand: the existing ones and the target customers. Existing customers can give you valuable feedback on the pros and cons of the product after using it for some time. Target customers can widen your horizons as they share what they are looking for in a product. They can give you information about their needs and what will draw them towards using an application.
  2. Create user stories
    Before you begin anything, you must first understand your users very well. Know their culture, values, likes and dislikes. Once you have that understanding, create personas. Personas are hypothetical users with a back story and personal profiles. Put them in scenarios that they may possibly get into as they use your product. As the journey of your persona continues, identify the obstacles that he or she may get into. Prioritize them and think of a way to eliminate them.
  3. Brainstorm with your team
    After you have done your research, it is time for the team to get together and discuss ideas. Brainstorming doesn’t have to be too serious. Since you are dealing with user experience, it will help a lot if you as a team have fun as well. Maximize UX tools that allow you to sketch your ideas and concepts in one place. Once they are all out, these inputs can be organized into visuals with details and structure that are more comprehensible and understandable at one look.

    Once your concepts are clear to you and your team, you can start creating prototypes. Use the sketches you made, HTML pages you have found and images that can make your design idea more alive. Put them together and test what the team has come up with so far.

  4. Look at the entire structure
    Though we deal with user experience, it doesn’t end with understanding your users. You also need to understand your product as a whole. Look at the data structure and channels. Think of ways you may change the content in a clear and consistent way based on all your research and ideas. You have to remember though that you must never compromise your brand’s personality and feels. Do not sell out. Instead, incorporate the users’ culture and language into the product. They must agree with each other for it to work.
  5. Create your innovations
    Once everything is in place, you can already make your innovations. You don’t need to start from scratch. Use UI elements and reuse whatever you can that still work and edit what needs to be changed. Take note of the appearance of the product. Carefully select fonts and color themes that are at par with the brand’s personality. Pick the right images and icons and put them in the right places to improve the user experience even more.

    Users want to be more involved, especially if they are on mobile. Look out for features that can be tweaked to make them more interactive and fun. You have to make sure though that the changes made will still allow the program to be functional and responsive.

    Re-evaluate the product before sending them out for testing. Test it with your team and don’t stop editing until you all think it is perfect.

  6. Test
    A technique used to test changes in a product is A/B Testing, where respondents are asked to evaluate two versions of the product. Get feedback from users, fix the errors that you find and decide which version you will release officially. Test it again and again until you find no more errors. Until then will your product be ready to give your users the greatest experience of their lives.

To know more about user experience design project planning that could work for your business, contact us today.

Mar

6 Mobile Marketing Trends That Changes The Way Business Is Done


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments March 3rd, 2017

6 Mobile Marketing Trends That Changes The Way Business Is Done

Before the era of technological advances, money spent on marketing and advertising go to printed and radio ads. People get to know brands through posters, newspapers and billboards. This has worked well and is actually still effective. However, living in this century, print ads will never be enough. Because of the new developments in technology, entrepreneurs and businessmen are pushed to keep up and be more creative. Thinking out of the box and maximizing user behavior has become the trend.

Marketing must always fit the needs of the customers. It used to just be as simple as creating apps for web users on desktop, but today there is more to online marketing. In the past year, more people have turned to their mobile phones to surf the internet and to connect to others through social media. Google claimed that more than 50% of their search queries were made using mobile phones. In the coming years, we expect more people around the globe to own mobile phones as it is already perceived to be a necessity.

One study showed that a person checks his device at an average of 85 times in a day. Since mobile has become a part of everyday life that our consumers can’t now imagine to live without, businesses have taken advantage of this. Mobile marketing has been a trend that instantly gained popularity among users. Businesses then have already incorporated it into their strategy because of the effective role it plays in the customer’s purchasing journey. The following are a few trends to look out for.

  1. ‘Mobile’ as an evolving concept
    There was a time when mobile only meant smart phones. Then came the tablets with different resolutions and features. Today, mobile does not simply mean phones or tablets. Wearables have made a name for themselves easily. They include smart watches, fitness trackers, smart glasses and even clothing. The accessibility and how the user interacts with them will influence how marketing can be done in these media.
  2. Capture attention through video ads
    In the past, search engines were just for research and queries. This venue has already been explored in the name of marketing by incorporating video ads that play on the side bar or as you scroll down the page. Google, being the number one search engine in the world, has already began experimenting with this. It succeeded in capturing the attention of users instantly especially those videos that automatically play. Even YouTube now has video ads playing before the chosen videos and sometimes even in between long videos. An innovation made by Facebook is the 360-degree videos incorporated in the newsfeed that amazed many users.
    Companies strive to keep their video ads only a few seconds long, but others have begun incorporating story lines in their videos, making it last for minutes. With progressive research, businesses will find more ways to raise video ad standards to surpass their competitors.
  3. Applications as an avenue for more marketing
    Our mobile devices are filled with so much applications that we use every day. Marketing has taken advantage of this too by incorporating ads here as well. Whether it appears as a pop-up window or integrated in the page, it is a sure way of getting the message across to users. An example is Instagram has begun advertising brands as the user scrolls down. One study showed that with this strategy, ad recalls increased by 3.2% and brand messages are remembered more by 10% simply by just being on the feed. There will be more of this in the coming years and it will keep on improving because applications are not going anywhere. With higher customer research, ads will be made more interesting by tailoring itto users preferences such as more attractive colors and visuals, perhaps even catchy tunes.
  4. Social media is not just for social media
    The role of social media sites in commerce in the past was just to influence shopping decisions through product reviews and feedbacks. Recently, social media has also become a venue for e-commerce. In fact, this has already begun with Instagram’s “Shop now” option and Pinterest’s “Buyable Pins”. Negotiations and purchasing are already possible once you come across a product that you fall in-love with instantly. Shopping has become even more convenient through mobile. Many companies release mobile coupons and gift certificates for loyal customers and even for friends of their customers. This has pleased a lot and worked in promoting the brand even more as users wait for the next opportunity to receive freebies and discounts.
  5. Lifestyle Apps that change values and taste
    Because of many innovations in the thousands of applications on mobile, some of them have found a way to be part of our lifestyle. There are some apps that let users have this perception that their lives are more organized and purposeful. These are especially experienced in exercise, diet, and weather apps. Since these apps are widely used as people become more conscious of their life choices, businesses will find a way to incorporate these in it without the user even realizing it.
  6. Mobile wallets to replace cards
    Though this is a young concept that might not be mainstream yet, mobile wallets can be possible for many mobile users. This can threaten the existence of credit cards if this becomes a big success. Apple users have already started using Apple Pay to make purchases. Samsung has also created something similar called Samsung Pay that works with payment terminals that accept credit cards. However, developers are still working on standards and other features such as security and usage so that the user experience will be satisfactory and more pleasurable.

Share your observations with us on mobile marketing trends in your industry. We would be happy to hear from you!

Sources:
Mobile Marketing Trends, Insight, & Advice
Mobile Marketing Is Changing The Game: Here’s How To Get Caught Up
4 Hot Mobile Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016
Top 10 mobile marketing trends for 2016

Mar

Salesforce: King of Cloud Computing


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments March 3rd, 2017

Imagine holding all the world’s secrets in your hand: all business contacts, customers’ information and maybe even very crucial data that can make or break companies. It is impossible even for a single computer to hold on to all the data we need for our businesses especially since businesses are expanding in different ways through different strategies. Keeping all valuable information in one place seemed like a dream, until cloud computing made it all happen.

Cloud computing has become the solution to our problem. It has provided us with a way to store, access and recover data through the internet anywhere and anytime. We have become so dependent on the world wide web that often times without even realizing it, it has become our most trusted friend that we share our most personal information with. Companies have used this to their advantage and made businesses out of cloud computing, and Salesforce did a great job at this.

Being one of the pioneering companies in cloud computing, Salesforce has provided business software on a subscription basis to companies that need a third party to process and store their data. It is best known for their customer relationship management (CRM) services and gets their revenue from this. It caters to different business industries such as communications, retail, manufacturing, retail, finance, health and sciences, and more.

Salesforce started with the Software as a Service (SaaS) model where businesses subscribe to an application where data can be accessed over the internet instead of storing all of them in a hard drive or a computer in-house. It contains various data that range from human resource to social data. Thus, very valuable information is entrusted to the cloud due to the enormous cache of customer data along with their personal information. Salesforce utilizes this data to offer better products, services and platforms for the customers.

Maximizing everything they already have, Salesforce has acquired tools that can now offer a venue for application development. This is known as the Platform as a Service (PaaS) model. Using the data from CRM, a platform to build new applications is now available. These apps can even be customized depending on what the business needs. This is now where enterprises’ next generation business apps are built and stored. By integrating sales data from CRM, apps can be better designed for the consumers.

Salesforce believes that applications are more important than the infrastructure they run on. By maximizing their SaaS and PaaS based system, Salesforce has become known as the “King of Cloud Computing”.

With Salesforce managing so much data, their CRM service is broken into several broad categories of clouds.

Sales Cloud

This is the world’s number 1 sales application because it focuses more on selling and less on administration. The Sales Cloud is a platform that tracks customers’ information and interactions that are found in one place and gives representatives, managers and executives what they need to connect with the customers. More deals then are closed faster by allowing businesses to have better contact management, opportunity management, sales collaboration, and sales performance management services.

Service Cloud

It is the customers that dictate the fate of a business. The key is to watch over their needs and to take good care of them. There will always be times when the customers need help. Desk.com is a service that aids customers who need fast, personalized and intelligent customer service and support 24/7 wherever the customer may be. It provides desk tools for businesses to give their service to their customers such as a fast set-up, an easy-to-use console and knowledge base and a multi-channel support like social media.

Marketing Cloud

Since the internet has become a venue of convenience for many of us, this is good news for businesses. Salesforce has created a Marketing Cloud to specialize in the marketing needs of businesses. This is a platform that offers email, mobile, and social media marketing services, web personalization and advertising services to expand businesses and increase brand recall. This also provides information of customers and their behavior in order to know and understand the market better so that communication through online ads will have more impact on potential buyers.

Community Cloud

In order to keep a business alive, relationships must be kept alive as well. Salesforce Chatter connects customers, partners and employees through an online collaboration, allowing them to communicate well and constantly. Communities that allow interactions, brainstorming and sharing of ideas within the business are formed. Users are able to receive updates on the progress of shared documents and they can respond and give feedback.

Analytics Cloud

It is important for a business to understand its current state and its strengths and weaknesses in order to know what areas need improvement. Salesforce launched their Wave Analytics Platform to enable users to find the appropriate datasets, insights and eventually answers regarding sales and services that can lead to better decision making. This is aimed to expand the business’s markets.

App Cloud

With the fast growing role of apps in our daily lives, every business should include app development in their plans. The Salesforce App Cloud accelerated the app revolution by building, running, managing and optimizing apps in any way the consumers want. These can be connected to different systems and devices to provide an extraordinary experience to the user.  A proven ecosystem for apps, the AppExchange is the world’s leading business app marketplace customized for Salesforce. It helps you find the best tools so productivity of the company will be optimal.

JWay is a Salesforce Consulting Partner. Please contact us if you have any questions about your Salesforce implementation.

 

Sources:
Salesforce
Salesforce Is a Cloud Computing King
Salesforce launches Wave analytics cloud, boosts enterprise reach
Amazon’s biggest competitor in the cloud: Salesforce.com?
Salesforce.com

Sep

6 Ways To Promote Your Consulting Business


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments September 20th, 2016

6 Ways To Promote Your Consulting Business

Being passionate about something is the most beautiful thing in the world. It drives you towards excellence in the things you do without trying as hard as those who don’t have the heart for it. Once an expert, this can be used to your advantage by being a consultant in your chosen field.

A lot of people out there need help in achieving their goals. Having your own consulting business is rewarding in a sense that you help people who need assistance. However, succeeding in this business requires different strategies that allow you to be known by your market. Being a consultant doesn’t just simply mean you give advice to those who need it. As a consultant, you are also an entrepreneur. You have to learn to sell yourself to people, and it requires knowing strategies to promote how you can be of service to others.

  1. Create relationships that last
    Nothing beats close professional relationships when it comes to business. It is not uncommon to start in your local community where you probably already know many people and the dynamics of how each of them interacts. Do not stop with individuals. Look for organizations and small businesses that can benefit from your expertise. Present yourself to them and offer help.

    If you have already started with your business and were able to grant satisfaction to your clients, then keep them and take good care of them. It is true when they say take care of your customers and the business will take care of itself. You know how in restaurants where the staff takes extra care of their regular customers? One of the reasons for this is that loyal customers tend to recommend their favorite restaurant to their friends if they have had a wonderful dining experience. Just like in your consulting business, when you take good care of your clients, you will definitely have referrals. This will pave the way towards expansion.

  2. Put up a killer website
    Every business nowadays needs a website. Unlike in the past decades where marketing is done by passing the word around, your clients will do their research online because whether we like it or not, it is by far the most convenient way. It will be better if they got their information about your business from your own website and not from sites that simply present comments and feedback on how you work. Though it helps in a way, you need your own, but it is not enough that you simply have one. It must be a website that will instantly impress your clients. Keep your website clean, professional and true.
  3. Keep a blog
    We are in the computer age. When people need information, their tendency is to find answers in the Internet. From the time blogs have gained popularity, writers have had their chance to be heard even by readers overseas. It has given them an avenue to express their creativity without the help of publishing companies printing their material on paperback. Writing blogs have been their stepping stone to getting their names out there. Why not join the bandwagon?

    Write about the things you know most. Publish your own original content to help others out. Speaking your mind will let people see what you have to offer. It allows your clients to get to know you more and what they can expect when they choose to work with you. There are so many blog sites to choose from such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, etc.

  4. Use social media to your advantage
    It might not be enough that you have strong relationships in your local community. You may expand your network through social media sites. Aside from creating more professional relationships, it will be easier to get your name out there. At this age, this strategy of being more visible works almost all the time. A few of the popular social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These are not just for the younger target market. People of all ages have these accounts already. You can also use this to promote your website by providing links in your personal social media accounts.
  5. Join associations and organizations
    Organizations are established to bring people with similar interests together. Since they cater to the needs of those people who will need their expertise, this can help you promote yourself and your business even to the people who share the same passion. Be a member of recognized associations. This will not only provide you with more connections that can help win more clients, but this will also increase your credibility.
  6. Inspire others
    There are many ways to inspire others to take action. One is by encouraging discussions online. Once you have followers, you may post a question that can stir them into speaking out their minds. This can help you understand your market more and how else you can serve them well.

    Another way is by being yourself and speaking about what you are most passionate about in front of an audience. Be a resource speaker. Let your experiences speak for themselves. This allows you to get to know your craft even more as you prepare for your lecture. This will let the world know about you and what you have to offer. Your audience will perceive you as more credible knowing that you understand your craft well. This will make it easier to put their trust in you.

If you are looking for consulting opportunities on anything about the Internet, contact us.

Sources:
5 Common Myths About Marketing Your Consulting Business
How to Promote Your Consulting Business
4 Essential Tips on How to Grow Your Consulting Business

Sep

5 Social Media Strategies to Expand Your Brand


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments September 20th, 2016

5 Social Media Strategies to Expand Your Brand

Can you imagine a world without social media? People from the past had their diaries and letters while people from the new millennium have social networking sites for the same purpose. Many of us suddenly have this obsession to express ourselves online to keep everyone updated on what is going on with our lives. Social media has become an avenue of self-expression.

Over the years, entrepreneurs have used this trend to their advantage. Social media has become a very powerful tool in getting messages across various audiences, including advertising and marketing. It allowed better opportunities to build lasting relationships with customers. Though marketing is easier done today than yesterday, there are still strategies that have to be applied in order to expand your brand successfully using social media.

  1. Use as much social media sites that you can handle
    Each social media site has its own specialty, and this is the reason why people choose some sites over another. It is tempting to use all the channels available because after all, your goal is to be make yourself visible for the world to catch a better view of you and the brand you are trying to expand. However, it is still advisable to make use of the social media sites that you can manage easily. Discover the special features of the sites you want to use, and work on it.

    Here are some example you may use:

    • Facebook: Being the largest social network in the world, an average person spends about 18 minutes on Facebook per minute. That is enough for you to be seen and noticed. You can make your own page and post whatever you want. You may even invite other users to like your page so they can get to know more about your brand.
    • Twitter: Sometimes you are tempted to just pour your heart out to reach your market, but not everybody has the time to read lengthy posts. Many people enjoy the limited number of characters for one tweet. It is an effective way to get your point across because the eyes can only rest on that much word count for a few seconds. The key is using the right words and the right hashtags to allow users to find you.
    • Instagram: To see is to believe. A way to show your target market what your brand offers is to post your pictures. Instagram now allows ads to be posted and viewed by users scrolling down their feed. This actually increases brand recall significantly if you work on it.
  2. Add a personal touch
    Since everyone turns to social media nowadays, it is not unusual to find ads everywhere as you browse through your newsfeed. In fact, this is where much of the advertising happens. This means more competition for you. The only option you have is to stand out.

    The easiest way to stand out is to be real. Be yourself by putting a personal touch in your brand. This will make you attract the market you are aiming for. Incorporate your style and your point of view to make it more interesting.

  3. Think out of the box
    It is human nature for us to keep looking for something fresh and new. With your competitors out there, you cannot risk being just like everybody else. Do not be afraid to be different. Every minute, hundreds of thousands of Facebook statuses and tweets are posted while billions of photos are uploaded on Instagram. Your updates must have a certain edge to it that will make it stand out. Perhaps an interesting picture with a different perspective can attract more potential customers to appreciate your brand and can allow your old customers to see it in a fresh light.

    Videos can make it extra special too. YouTube is the second largest search engine that people on the internet enjoy using. Utilize this by putting up your very own channel. Top brands all over the world add and share videos for the pleasure of their customers and target market. You may follow this trend, get views, likes and comments. Make short clips and adds that will captivate your market. Maybe you can also have a short web series to keep them hooked and never forget your brand.

  4. Focus on your target
    One fact that is hard to accept is that not everybody will love your brand. You cannot please everybody. You might even have haters along the way. Don’t fret and be discouraged because there are still more people who will appreciate you. It is all about finding your target market. Do your own research through these social media channels. Get to know your audience, discover which pages or sites they visit and tap that.

    Focus on your target community, but don’t box yourself with the only target market that you know. Get to know the others as well and find out what you can offer and how they can eventually notice and love your brand.

  5. Be consistent
    Social media only works if you work on it. The key to keeping your brand known online is to be consistent. Update your accounts often. Post statuses, tweets, pictures and whatnots to let your customers know what you are up to. Create a routine so the world can look forward to finding out what else is new. By being consistent, it will let your followers recognize your brand name and let them better remember you. Once they remember you, expanding your brand’s empire will be easier.

To know more about social media strategies that could work for your business, contact us today.

Sources:
Three Elements Of An Effective Social Media Strategy
The 11 Must-Use Social Media Strategies to Expand Your Brand
26 Ways Brands Succeed With Social Media Marketing

Jul

Beginners Guide to Web Application Testing


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments July 25th, 2016

Beginners Guide to Web Application Testing

Web applications are designed to make our everyday tasks easier. Some are created to add more spice to our lives. Users choose applications for many different reasons. One thing is the same for all though: all users expect a lot when it comes to the experience of interacting with applications. This puts pressure on developers to produce apps that work well and satisfy users.

It is not enough that you produce awesome applications that capture your users’ hearts. Since apps are there to help, they must perform to its maximum potential before they are released to users. It must then undergo a series of tests that check each aspect of the application. This is called Web Application Testing. It ensures that the application runs the way it is supposed to run in order to give the users an unforgettable experience.

Each application has unique features. Web Application Testing tests all these through broad concepts that encompass everything the app needs to satisfy the users. The following are the important concepts that have to be understood when giving the app a test run:

  1. Functionality
    Once a user chooses an app, he expects to get satisfactory results. The app should be in perfect working condition. Meaning, it has to function well consistently. All fields must accept input and submissions should work correctly. If an invalid input is made, error messages should be appropriate and redirect the user to the right action. Dead pages or invalid directs are no-no’s because they are big turn offs.

    You must also test the efficiency of your app at computing and displaying results. For apps with interactive media, the animations and audio must work smoothly so as not to interrupt or slow down the entire app while it loads. These animations are made to entertain and impress, not to be an inconvenience.

    The app’s functionality also includes how notifications and updates will be displayed or communicated to the user. The administrators’ dashboard should be functioning well in case the user needs help in the future.

  2. Usability
    Some apps may look rather difficult to handle. When you test your app, you have to ensure ease of use. You don’t want your user to spend more time being frustrated with the app than actually enjoying it. The content must be friendly for anyone, whether they are first time users or tech savvy. In order to help the user get the most out of the experience, navigation from one page to another should come easy using controls that can be understood immediately.
  3. Interface
    Appearance can be everything for some when it comes to finding the right app for their own purpose. Once a user gets turned off with how the data is arranged on the page, he may never want to use the app again, pushing him to find another one. The interface shows how the text and visuals are arranged on the page. These have to be displayed properly and in right order. They must be organized in a way that the features are accessible on the page. The terms used must be crystal clear so it won’t be confusing for the user.

    It must also ensure that data flow is smooth from one page to another. All links should be prominent, especially the link that points back to your homepage. Support channels should also be working properly and can easily be seen on the page in case users encounter a problem or in case they need a guide.

  4. Compatibility
    People not only browse through their desktop computers. Not everybody uses the same operating system or browser. Compatibility testing ensures that the application will work well in different venues. This includes display and data flow. When you do compatibility testing, think of as many scenarios that can happen in your users’ environments so you can find a solution to make them work properly in as many venues as possible.

    Some apps though were made to be compatible with only a certain browser or operating system. You must then make sure that your app degrades gracefully to still provide a great experience for your user who is using a different medium.

  5. Performance
    Your app may work differently in certain situations. There are times when some applications slow down when the load reaches or goes beyond maximum capacity. Server response time should then be tested to ensure that the app will not slow down or crash. Limits are tested over a period of time to check for the endurance of various elements that comprise the app. You may now find solutions in case something goes wrong during overload. Tools like PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrics can help you analyze and resolve those performance issues.
  6. Security
    Web apps capture a lot of data from users. Personal information, financial and work details will have to be protected because users trust you with these. Your app should keep these information private and protected from unauthorized users. Access to these data should be limited at all times, but if access is necessary, authentication should be done first.

    Your number one enemy when it comes to ensuring the security of your app are hackers. Their methods include finding any vulnerability in your codes or system. It helps to be familiar with their ways so you can identify what needs to be double checked before you release your application.

Contact us if you need help in building your next web application. We are happy to help!

Sources
Web Application Testing
Web Application Testing Methodologies
Web application testing: How to get the most out of your sessions

Jul

Basics of Amazon Web Services (AWS)


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | 1 Comment July 7th, 2016

Amazon Web Sevices (AWS)

Life isn’t as simple today as it was before. There are tremendous amounts of data and information floating everywhere that need protection, organization and integration. Since cloud computing has emerged in the past decade, storing, accessing and processing data from developers, users and large companies have made their jobs easier. As much as cloud computing is a genius way of helping everyone in the 21st century, it is still growing and continuing to improve based on the needs of the users.

Amazon is a giant that ventured into cloud computing. It launched the Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006 that aimed to provide online services for websites and client-side applications. Using the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model of cloud computing, it offers the ‘backbone’ provided to large companies who need fast and easy access to virtual machines, storage space, servers, scaling and backup. Their service lies in managing all their customer’s data.

Solutions running in the AWS cloud can get applications running faster. It also has security features that high-end companies rely on. Since Amazon partners with software giants like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, customers can easily migrate existing enterprise software licenses to the cloud. AWS takes care of the underlying infrastructure where everything runs.

Services by AWS are provided around the world. Support services are available 24/7, so solutions may be sent to customers wherever they are. Amazon Web Services is geographically diversified into different regions. Each region has many smaller geographic areas called ‘availability zones’ to minimize impact of outages in case something goes wrong.

AWS offer services that help companies and organizations do their work faster at lower and reasonable prices. The services are billed based on usage. They help you meet your business needs better. With the different products AWS offer, IT costs are lowered and applications are scaled. The infrastructure services are divided into four general categories: compute, storage and content delivery, database and networking. Though there are a lot of products under each category, here are some that are well-known to developers.

  1. Compute
    AWS is well-known for their Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) which provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It aims to make web-scale computing much easier for developers. It has a simple web service interface and gives you complete control of your computing resources. This reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances, allowing you to scale capacity faster as the computing requirements change. Since Amazon operates under a “pay as you go” model, you only pay for the capacity you actually used. Developers choose Amazon EC2 because it provides the tools to build applications designed to resist and stay away from common scenarios where apps usually fail.
  2. Storage and Content Delivery
    Another product that is widely talked about is the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). It provides developers and IT teams with secure, durable and highly-scalable cloud storage for a variety of uses such as backup, recovery, archives, analytics, disaster recovery, cloud applications and content distribution. It also has a simple web service interface that allows you to store and retrieve any amount of data anywhere on the internet. It can be used on its own or together with other AWS services such as Amazon EC2.

    To organize the data even better, Amazon S3 offers different storage classes depending on the nature of the data you need to store. Policies are configured depending on how you want your data to be managed throughout its lifecycle in the cloud. Once these policies are set, the data will be migrated to its appropriate storage. Amazon S3 Standard is used for general purpose storage of data that are often accessed and used. Amazon S3 Standard-Infrequent Access (Standard-IA) is for old data that are less frequently accessed. Amazon Glacier is used for long-term data that need to be archived already.

  3. Database
    Amazon DynamoDB provides a scalable, low latency NoSQL database service for applications. It delivers consistent and fast performance at any scale. It is a fully managed cloud database that supports both document and key-value store models. Because of its flexible data model and reliable performance, it is best used for designing applications for mobile, web, gaming, internet of things and many more.

    Developers purchase this service based on throughput instead of storage. This service handles everything else after you have created a database table and set your throughput. Database management tasks such as the provision of hardware or software, setup and configuration, software patching, operation of a database cluster, or partitioning data as you scale is no longer a problem. In order to meet the throughput requirements as the data volumes grow and application performance demands increase, Amazon DynamoDB uses automatic partitioning and SSD technologies that can deliver faster.

  4. Networking
    An interesting product of AWS is the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) wherein you are given a virtual network that you can define. It is a logically isolated section of AWS where you can have complete control of the environment including a selection of your own IP address range, creation of subnets, and configuration of route tables and network gateways. You may easily customize the network configuration depending on what you want.

If you are looking to implement AWS for your organization and need help, contact us.

Sources
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Inc.
Amazon Products
Types of Cloud Computing

May

10 User Experience Tools to Try in 2016


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments May 10th, 2016

10 User Experience Tools to Try in 2016

Everything is changing fast. Each year, something new comes up, and the users’ expectations increase by a notch as quality of applications improve. The aim of user experience (UX) is to understand how users feel about a certain application. With the user looking for something new every time, this poses challenges for designers to create better programs for the satisfaction of their customers.

Designing a program or application is a tough job. The designer then has to make sure that he is properly equipped with the tools he needs. Thousands of tools to improve productivity come out in the market to aid them. Though there is no best tool that fits all needs, it all depends on the personal preference of the designer. Here are tools that every UX designer must try this year.

  1. User Testing
    A key element in UX is understanding your users. User research and usability testing has been essential in user experience design (UXD). This tool works by recruiting respondents to answer tests that evaluate an application. It comes with a video that allows you to see actual reactions of your respondents while they answer the test. The results are delivered in an hour. Designers appreciate this tool due to its convenience in delivering feedback. Your team may even specially design the test so it can be customized to what you need.
  2. Sketch
    Photoshop has been very much useful even for those who simply edit images for leisure. Sketch is like Photoshop in a sense, but Sketch is a tool created for web and mobile design. Though it only benefits Mac users, it gives developers the experience to work with a fast, flexible and easy to use tool when laying out concepts. It uses CSS logic from the beginning, making it easier for transport once development starts. Users can create assets in different formats with its Automatic Slicing feature and one-click export.

    The lay-out is easy on the eyes. Developers enjoy this because of the convenience it brings. Every new object is affixed in a new layer, making many different layers. Combinations are made easy. Even navigation is easy.

  3. UX PIN
    This has always been on lists of the top ten UX tools. It is set apart from apps like itself because its focus lies largely on what the users need and want: codeless applications, interactivity, user interface patterns, elements that can just be added, dragged and dropped to fit whatever you want. The collaborative design platform handles each stage of the design with attention, keeping all elements in one place. You can design an app from the beginning until the end using the same documents from lo-fi wireframe to hi-fi prototypes.

    It is a visual editor that allows you to pick certain elements and combine them together. You may drag and drop elements to mock up an interface without the codes. They also integrate with Sketch and Photoshop. You may also add a little more life to static files to make them into interactive prototypes without actually destroying the layers used.

  4. Photoline
    Not much known as compared to the others, but developers choose to use Photoline because it is efficient and economical. As compared to the other tools, this costs less than its counterpart. It is a versatile software that offers the features you need in designing: non-destructive layers, photo manipulation, vector editing. Its edge among others is that it offers multi-layered EXR exporting and importing.
  5. Optimizely
    This also utilizes user research well in order to better develop products. However, it becomes different from other research tools because it makes use of A/B Testing where you create a different version of a page or website , and the impact of the change is measured. This will then influence decisions you have to make with your design. It promises easy implementation with code-free visual editor to allow developers to experiment more based on what they want and what their users want.
  6. XMind
    Thinking is a very complex process that sometimes you need help to organize all the creative inputs you are having all at the same time. XMind is a diagramming tool and brainstorming aid that also helps organize thoughts. It relies on visuals for easier comprehension when you go back to ideas related to you project. It allows you to list down anything on your mind about your current project. Since it has an automatic cloud storage, you may share your inputs with your teammates.
  7. Mural
    As they say, two head is better than one. This tool is what the creators like to call a flexible canvas where ideas are dumped. This allows teams brainstorm together and lay down all their insights even as they work away from each other. Conversations may be formed for better understanding as a team. This creates a clearer vision of the project as the concepts and ideas are organized into structures. Multimedia can also be incorporated here. This supports Youtube, Vimeo Slideshow, Google Drive, Evernote to make working easier.
  8. InVision
    This tool allows your team to collaborate design drafts and getting feedback immediately. Your static web designs can come to life with just a click by adding animations, gestures and transitions. You may showcase your designs in any resolution, since it supports any screen size.
  9. Antetype
    If you want to finish a project in the shortest possible time, Antetype can be the one for you. It is one of the first design and layout tool created by UI designers that are packed with tools needed to design high-end UI prototypes. It saves time with its responsive designs that you may tweak for your taste. It comes with pre-designed widgets that you can choose from. It also allows you to make your own. The graphics are optimal for whatever screen size you are using.
  10. Slack
    Any tool that improves communication within a team improves user experience. Slack is a messaging tool most often called the “team communication for the 21st century” because it gathers all communication tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and even Twitter to keep each member of the team updated. Conversations are organized into channels and files are uploaded directly for better collaboration. This is the chosen app for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory so the people can be more productive in a convenient manner.

Sources
7 UX tools to try in 2016
Top 10 UX Tools of 2016
8 UX and UI Wireframe Tools You Must Try In 2016
Web Design Tools to Try in 2016

May

7 Mobile App Development Trends


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | 1 Comment May 10th, 2016

7 Mobile Apps Development Trends

Whether we admit it or not, we are now drawn to things and concepts that make our lives easier. The convenience of having all the things we need in just one click is tempting especially with our very busy lives. Our mobile devices have become our loyal friends that keep us company and simplify and organize our tasks, making life almost like a piece of cake. Well, almost.

Applications play an integral role in technology. Since they first emerged, they never remained stagnant. They kept on progressing and improving. Creativity then has become a must. Developers strive to make these apps stay up to date in a way depending on the trends and changing flavours of the users. So far, this is how the latest mobile apps have evolved. It is expected to even surpass whatever our imagination could reach as far as mobile technology is concerned.

  1. Wearable technology
    The Apple iWatch pioneered this concept. Most of the wearable technology that followed after the launch of the watch that multitask for you now focus on fitness and health. Trackers are built-in to record your progress while you do your cardio or strength training in the gym. Because it encourages health and exercise nuts to push more, many have become dependent on this. This has started to expand in the textile and fashion industry. Like for instance, in the future we can have leggings that can detect fatigue in the leg muscles of runners. Aside from health and fitness, these wearable technology gives you notifications from emails and social media accessed from your other devices. As long as it caters to efficiency and productivity, this area will keep on expanding in different devices and enterprises.
  2. Internet of things (ioT)
    As much as people are getting connected easier, so is everything else in this world. The internet of things takes mobile development to the next level. Anything that can be connected will be connected to each other. While your internet is on, your oven, coffee maker, lamps, watches and even gigantic machines such as car and airplane engines can be controlled and connected using your mobile device. Since developers are continuously working on ways to create flexible mobile experiences for their users, the internet of things will soon be everywhere.
  3. Cloud Driven Apps
    Mobile nowadays does not simply mean the smart phone. There are tablets with different resolutions and features, and now as the wearable technology emerges quickly, people will no longer maintain just a single mobile device. There is a need for integration of mobile apps using multiple devices. Cloud technology is the solution. Data is synchronized and execution of apps from different devices must be ensured. The integration then plays a vital role in app development. Developers and designers have already kept this in mind. Many huge companies are working on cloud based app development platforms to make storage and processing of data easier for the consumer.
  4. Mobile Marketing and Advertising
    The methods of getting business known out there has also evolved. Companies are using the dependence of consumers on their mobile devices and social media to introduce brands and to let it be remembered. Businesses have already included in-app advertising in their marketing plans because it has been proven to be effective for the expansion of their market. We now see different formats of advertisement as we scroll down our newsfeed in the form of images, texts and videos that allow an increase in brand recall for consumers. As companies keep on experimenting with this, mobile marketing and advertising will keep on getting better.
  5. Prioritizing User Experience (UX)
    Developers used to just pay attention to aesthetics and what they think can be an awesome application that will interest users. User attention was the priority wherein more app downloads is a measurement of value. Today, the interest lies in user engagement where the consumers get most of the experience while being engaged in the app. Different apps are being developed every day, and user experience becomes a critical aspect because users keep on searching for that certain trait that makes an app stand out from the rest that are similar to it. Consumer taste and behaviours are being studied by companies to give their customers an even significantly enhanced mobile app experience.
  6. Mobile Commerce
    A lot of commercial sales today are made through mobile. Everything can be done through mobile devices and a working internet connection. Purchases can be made online for the convenience of both the buyer and the seller. Mobile commerce is just as easy as using your credit or debit cards without the actual card. Though this field is still young, developers will continue to improve this with more features to make transactions easier and safer.
  7. Enhanced In-app Security
    Many applications store personal and sensitive data about their customers such as bank details used for purchases. Apps should pass the basic security test, but this aspect of app development is overlooked by developers. As technology improves, humans also become more intelligent and sometimes not in a good way. A security breach can leak sensitive information about consumers that hackers can exploit for their advantage. This poses a big challenge for developers because people keep finding ways to search for security gaps to break into the system. We all need protection from hacking, and companies have already paid attention to in-app security by developing top-notch security features to protect the users.

Surely, you may be seeing other trends transforming our mobile world out there. When you have a moment to share, do log them here. We would be happy to hear from you!

Sources
Latest Mobile App Development Trends
10 Mobile App Trends for 2016
Most Anticipated Trends for Mobile App Development

Mar

5 Productivity Tips for Developers


Posted by Jan Rae Carino | Blog | No Comments March 2nd, 2016

5 Productivity Tips for Developers

Being a software developer sounds like an appealing and exciting job. Sitting in front of a desktop or laptop improving programs and applications for the users’ pleasure could be a lot of people’s dream job. Many don’t realize how difficult this job could be. A developer is many things: a researcher, designer, programmer, scientist. A developer is also an artist in his own way. There are moments when you have everything figured out in your head, but as you write the codes, your mind just blacks out. This is when it gets more difficult to continue or even start again.

As many look at it, developing software is actually an art form. It entails a lot of thinking and imagination that demands focus. It is important to keep the work flow smooth to get a whole load of things done in the least possible time. Here are 5 strategies to make use of your time better:

  1. Invest in a good computer
    Many people say that the beauty and success of a project is in the hands of the developer and not with the hardware used. However, many developers attest that the hardware used does matter. Though this is just an opinion, one thing is true: you need a computer that fits your comfort and work style. Everyone wants a computer that needs less time fixing so you spend more time working.

    It depends on the user and the job that has to be done. An updated hardware make it easier to work faster and more productively. There are some software that need a higher processing speed for it to work properly. Also, it is be best to have a RAM big enough for your development needs.

  2. Get a software that does the job better
    A lot of software come for free from theInternet nowadays. There are a whole lot of different programs to choose from. However, it is still best to invest in software. Quality software don’t always come cheap. They will cost you more, but sometimes if you pay for it, it does the job better and more efficiently.

    There are also applications that are designed to be more efficient and cater to your needs faster. You need a good text editor to help you construct your ideas with less difficulty. For example, SublimeText is packed with features especially made for designers who love to save time. It allows several changes to be made at one time. If you need extra focus, it has a Distraction Free Mode that shows your work at full screen without the other programs that you don’t need while your hands are full. This program is also constantly being updated by developers so you could never go wrong.

  3. Find your focus
    Sometimes the most difficult part of working is getting started. This is because focus is very hard to find. For most of us, a few seconds of distraction could mean a couple of minutes or hours wasted. If you are the type who easily gets distracted by a lot of random things, then it is time to clean up. Clean up your desktop. Don’t allow your social media accounts to grab your attention while you work. Those beeps from your notifications will tempt you to check them out and could lead you to checking your newsfeed. You don’t need that. Close them all, and if you have to check, open them when you are on break.

    Cleaning up your desk could also be helpful. Although many studies claim that Einstein and Zuckerberg had untidy desks that boosted their creativity, there is still a higher chance that your cluttered desk distracts you more than it inspires you. Many studies still show that a tidy desk increases productivity by getting the task done faster than those who have messy desks. Don’t allow your eyes to feast on so many things too much.

  4. Set your priorities
    It’s never easy to finish a whole project overnight. It would help though if tasks are broken down into lists of things to do. Make a list of things you want to accomplish in a work day (or work night) and focus on your day’s goal. The key is doing the most important tasks first. Studies show that you are most productive before noon, so it is much better to do the most difficult tasks on your to do list earlier during the day.

    It also saves time to classify similar tasks in batches, including personal things you have to do. Give yourself time limits or little deadlines to follow so you don’t get caught up working on one task for a very long time.

  5. Allow breaks
    We talk about productivity all the time, so you might think that no time must be wasted on rest. Breaks are very important during work time, especially since developers use their minds a lot. Many researches have been made on the importance of rest when it comes to generating productivity. The results show that frequent breaks improve mental agility. Thus, your creative juices could flow better if the mind is rested and not overworked.

    One suggested technique in taking breaks that has gained popularity and is used by many employees is the Pomodoro technique. It allows 25 minutes of strict productive time followed by short breaks that last for 5 minutes. After 4 cycles, longer breaks of 15 minutes are allowed, and the cycle repeats. It is a fun way of increasing your productivity immediately.

Sources
10 Productivity Tips for Software Developers
Productivity Tips for Developers
Productivity Tips for Web Developers for Efficient Time Management

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