Every time we start an engagement, we sit down with our new partner to decide whether to build vs. buy software. It’s not something development shops typically do. We like our “hammer” of custom software solutions, but to be good consultants, we can’t treat every project like it’s a nail.
That’s why we help every partner weigh the advantages of buying software versus building. If we can find existing technology that meets their needs, we can save them tens of thousands of dollars.
Mobile user testing is hard to do properly, and in-app analytics aren’t all that easy to collect either. But without the user insights both can provide, you’re leaving the success of your business up to guesswork. We can’t recommend you blindly launch a website, then try to improve usage by looking only at pageviews. So we also don’t let clients toss together an app, then guess at improvements based on download numbers.
That’s why, even though it’s hard, we’ve developed a mobile application usability testing system. We start by collecting the best insights we can while we’re building the app, then we track usage statistics and analytics after it’s launched. That way we can learn why users are doing what they’re doing. To make informed decisions that improve the product and grow the business, we need to start with user insights.
A code audit is the rare do-over in business, a chance to look through your existing codebase and make it better based on what you know now. Just like rehabbing an old house, code audits allow you to save everything that’s working and build on that, instead of scrapping the lot and starting from scratch.
This means they can be the best way to squeeze value out of what you already have.
Judith (left) and Aly (right), happy to finally be somewhere that values both project management and UX.
As a UX developer (Aly) and a project manager (Judith), we’ve both had jobs where the value of project management and UX wasn't recognized. We were written off as “overhead” or a “nice-to-have” instead of being treated like necessary functions that improve the final product.
You can trace most problems in software projects all the way back to the start. Maybe there was a large PDF of needs and requirements. A project kickoff meeting or call that had everyone nodding, but no one asking any questions. A set of goals for the project, but no understanding of how they support the goals of the business.
It’s no wonder things go off the rails — and yes, as a Rails development shop, we endorse that pun.
E-commerce is literally the most rewarding part of a web application — you can see money flowing into your company due directly to the code you have written. But dealing with payments and payment gateways is complicated and stressful. It's often the most complicated and precise business logic in a system.
The most important rule of building and managing a remote team: the burden of communication is on the people working together from the same location, not the people telecommuting.
It may sound obvious, but I just can’t stress it enough. Because when your head is down in development on a project, it’s easy to slip into side conversations and asides that never end up getting communicated to the remote team members you’re leading. You have to constantly remember to project what you’re doing out to your remote team members. Or pretty quickly you end up working from two entirely different playbooks.
That’s why at Table XI, our primary work infrastructure is engineered to support remote work. While most of us are co-located, we want to stay flexible, and we currently have staff working everywhere from Chile to Seattle. Using remote-friendly systems does a couple of good things for us, which I’ll discuss later, but the key benefit is that it keeps people who are remote from being at a disadvantage. All our work happens in a remote-friendly infrastructure. The rest — coffee runs, lunch breaks, movie nights — are additive. You don't hear people talking about work on coffee runs.
Here are our tips for engineering effective remote teams: