January 25, 2019No Comments

Accessible software design always knows its audience

Accessible software design doesn’t happen on accident. If I design based on my own instincts, the software will work great for someone exactly like myself — with all the same abilities and preferences. I can see the difference between red and green, so I wouldn’t think twice about putting those colors next to each other in a layout. It’s only when someone with colorblindness tries to use the site that it doesn’t work at all.

All good design starts with thinking about the audience, and accessible software design is no different. If, instead of assuming everyone would see it like me, I took the time to run my layout through color checkers for different types of colorblindness, we’d skip the problem above and anyone would be able to use the site.

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October 5, 2016No Comments

Why our project kickoff meeting is two days — with homework

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.

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May 2, 20162 Comments

How I project manage remotely — tools, tips and a few lessons learned

Project Manage Remotely

When my husband and I decided to move to Seattle from Chicago, we were looking for a change. We thought we’d move somewhere with better weather, where we already had friends and family. And we thought we’d move somewhere with an active tech community, because we figured we’d need to get new jobs.

It didn’t work out that way.

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April 5, 2016No Comments

How we use the GV design critique to find problems before they cost you money

GV Design Critique

I usually explain it to clients with this story: A bunch of admirals were asked to plan out a military campaign for a written exam. They were all accomplished strategists, but when confronted with a blank piece of paper, they all failed the test. So the navy paired them off, allowing each team to share notes. Instantly they started acing the test. All it took was that little bit of outside perspective, all of the sudden you see a bigger picture.

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August 22, 2013No Comments

5 Steps to Writing a Good Support Ticket

You come into work Monday morning and find out there’s a problem with your company’s internal web dashboard. You need to access your data for sales calls this afternoon and can’t do your job without it. You desperately need your support team to deliver a quick solution.

To diagnose and fix the problem, the support team needs detailed information to reproduce the same error you received. The more specific you are, the faster the support team can get you back in business.

A great, informative support ticket answers several questions. Here are the five questions you should ask and answer when submitting a ticket.

  1. How urgent is this issue? Write down your contact information and relative priority of the issue against other outstanding requests.
  2. Where did the error occur? Provide the URL and the browser you were on when you experienced this issue.
  3. What did you expect to happen? Provide details on what you expected to happen versus what actually happened. Break each error into a separate paragraph.
  4. Did you attempt to fix the problem? If you attempted to trouble-shoot, provide the steps you took and their results.
  5. What did it look like on your screen?  Provide  documentation, details and screenshots when possible. If you want to be truly amazing, take a video screencast of the process causing the error.

Check to see if you answered all of the questions above. Add any additional information that might help the support team and send.

Here is an example of a great support ticket:

From: chuck@norris.com
To: john@tablexi.com
Subject: Cannot Sign Into Admin Dashboard
Date: 9:03AM Monday, August 1st, 2013

Priority: Highest - this should take ultimate precedence over anything else

Hi John,

I can’t sign into my Admin dashboard this morning (8:30am EST). I wasn’t having any issues this weekend accessing it. This is pretty serious and I need my dashboard to prepare for a couple of big sales calls this afternoon.

From the admin login page, I entered my username and password, hit enter and received the error message below. I’ve been trying for 30 minutes and still can’t login.

I tried a couple of things to resolve this:

  1. I restarted Chrome and tried to login.
  2. I restarted Chrome after clearing my cache and all my cookies. I then started the login process again.
  3. I restarted my computer and went through the process above. No luck.

Here is a link to the error, a link to the login page where I started, and a screenshot of the error.

http://www.example.com/login.html
http://www.example.com/brokenpage.html

Support Ticket

Best regards,
Chuck

Follow these steps, and watch the support roll in.

Want to start visualizing your project risks?  Download our free Software Risk Management template

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