Seventhman Blog

  1. The Future of Mobile Productivity Software

    "mobile software"If you’ve been reading my blog in the last few months, you will notice that I’m focusing on mobility in an age where people and businesses are redefining the way they work.  This is the BYOD age,  where people access important applications from multiple devices to make work and collaboration efficient.  Mobile computing is as real as the air you breathe and a new era of productivity software is here.  Those who understand this perfectly will get ahead of the game where new devices and tools are concerned.

    Business Tools Meet Personalization

    Microsoft Office may have been our top business tool for years as we work on our personal computers.  But with over a billion smartphone users in the world comes new ways of creating value where productivity is concerned.  The success of these popular apps, like Dropbox and Evernote, didn’t happen out of the blue.  There is a huge demand for mobilizing applications as people work-on-the-go.  If everyone is going mobile these days, wouldn’t you want to leap forward and stay competitive in a fast-paced market?  Whether you are an enthusiast or an entrepreneur looking for smart ways to build a new and better product, it will all boil down to one question: How can you make people’s lives.. easier?

    Mobile Productivity: A Call to Innovate

    I’m not sure if I will agree with those who are tagging this as the new golden age of productivity software.  Truth is, these tools are far from perfect and there are plenty of room for improvement.  There are lots of opportunities where data collection, data management, scheduling, technical, and communications are concerned.  The challenge is how to maximize cloud computing, networks and create a seamless integration between mobile devices and businesses.  I guess, here’s where companies and customers are both learning from each other.  Then, there are highly technical apps like AutoCad for the iPad… and who are using this, seriously?  Would you feel comfortable living in a high rise designed on a free iTunes app?

    The Future of Productivity and Mobile Apps

    I haven’t encountered a study that shows how people are using productivity tools on their smartphones.  What is the percentage of people who are making use of it effectively?  No matter how well-designed the software is, there are those who may find it more efficient to work on desktop (or even on paper).  Clicking on a mouse and typing on a keyboard is way faster than zooming on your screen with a touch and slide of your finger.  It would take you longer to reply to your email on an iPhone.  I guess, we all have our own ways of using mobile devices and as new models come out of the market, the invitation to get creative and innovate is so big that many are simply missing out on it.  Just take a look on my previous posts on Responsive Design and how only a few have taken that bold move.

    Are you ready to break free from the outdated way of things then… to come up or embrace a productivity breakthrough?  The future depends on your answer, today.

     

    ** Happy 4th of July to my readers, acquaintances and friends in the U.S.

     

     

     

  2. The Skinny on Agile Software Development

    "agile software"When the world took notice of Agile Software Development way back in 2001, misconception still abounds up to this day.  There are still clients who think that there’s no planning done, where developers just start coding right away.  In my years of experience in custom software applications, I have to tell you that coming up with solutions that will hit project goals, timeline and budget is something you do painstakingly.  While the model was developed to hit goals faster, adaptive planning is in the heart of Agile in an effort to encourage flexibility and adapt to change – faster.

    Agile Development: A Radical Approach

    What can be a more perfect fix for businesses demanding changes that align with their schedule and budget?  In the Agile model, you may see rapid iterations where new code is released multiple times.  It can be as few as twice a month to coming up with something new each day or by the hour.  By doing so, one can immediately get feedback needed to continuously improve the product.  The team may even implement crowd testing to make sure things are working properly.  In the end, the final product is almost flawless, with only a few, minor defects.  At some point, the testing cycle may seem endless and developers are pushed to their limits to write that code, achieve functionality and meet deadlines.  Call it the ‘Fast and the Furious‘ approach to coding.

    The Price of Rapid Iterations

    For the sake of speed, you might pay a higher price tag.  Due to the fast nature of Agile, documentation often gets left behind.  For example, there is a request to change a certain feature which could have been discussed, but may have been overlooked when rewriting this change in the user manual.  Also, there is a big issue when it comes to security.  Developing new codes doesn’t mean it is a secured code.  While everyone will discuss about changes during a sprint, I would suggest allotting an extra time to talk about a secured framework for developers to work on.  There must be some way to check for bugs as you come up with new codes – minus the risk.  This task can be automated though. But, what’s important is that quality doesn’t have to suffer for innovation’s sake.

    Agile: Separating Fact from Fiction

    Here’s how it works in the real world: Coders code, QA tests and technical writers write.  Management needs to be kept in the loop.  The catch?  Not everyone looks forward to daily stand-up meetings.  Just check the Web about it and you’ll read lots of rants from the anti-agile crowd.  Still, Agile is not a fad in revolutionizing software development.  It is adopted because it simply works better for many.  The only way to know though is to experience it yourself.  And if you do, be reminded that like other solutions – there are pros and cons.  Be warned, the risk may be higher if you’re not cautious enough.

    Agile is not all about implementing new methodologies and codes, but it is a careful analysis of complex business problems.. so you can come up with an innovative solution that works.

     

     

  3. Crowd Testing: Will It Really Work for Your Business?

    "crowd testing"In a world dictated by something ‘faster, cheaper and better’ – the real challenge comes when the quality of a product doesn’t meet expectations.  This may hold true for the case of Crowdtesting, or crowdsourcing software testing.  The only difference is that instead of outsourcing software development task to a small group, you now have access to unlimited number of testers (which can come into tens of thousands).  In this digital age where everything has moved online, crowd testing promises a better alternative to traditional software testing methods so you can keep up with your business and customer demands.  Now, you can easily access large number of talents to help you achieve your business goals.

    Crowd Testing: Is It Really a Better Choice?

    True to the Utopian concept, when you gather enough people who can put in time and effort – you get to achieve a lot faster.  Crowd testing is not really a new idea.  Remember those times when you were invited to test the beta version of a website or an application?  If you signed up, you have already participated in the process. Just take a look at Facebook whose site has been translated into different languages, or Wikipedia whose content has been written by people across the globe.  Both professionals and amateurs have contributed in the process that helped add more functionality to these sites.  We all know that R&D (Research and Development) is not cheap.  But when everyone is contributing to the table, one can only wonder if this is a permanent fix.

    The Case of Quality vs. Quantity

    Those in the business of testing software know that crowd testing is not a force to be reckoned with.  While we see stricter compliance these days, learn that this will not replace the traditional way to software quality assurance.  Businesses are walking a tight rope here.  If they test software in-house, they may just lose sight of unseen opportunities for improvement.  And if they focus on crowd testing only, they may lose their competitive edge.  There is also the issue of credibility to deal with where cheap labor is concerned.  I believe that a perfect solution would be mixing both traditional and new ways of testing to achieve maximum ROI.  This is the only way to weigh both options and come out as a winner.

    How Can Your Business Take Advantage of Crowd Testing?

    No matter how you plan to test on the cloud, you can add crowd testing as a complementary task before the product is released to the market.  This way, it helps catch bugs or defects before product launch.  You may also use it as a form of multivariate test so you can check what needs improving.  The more you test, the more you will learn ways to fail.. so you can succeed faster, I was once told.  If you believe that your product will need a high number of future updates or releases, all the more that you need to use crowd testing.  Overall, it doesn’t hurt to make crowd software testing as part of the normal test process.  It’s all about integration – of certified project managers, experts who can offer proven-results, and standardized methods to  assure quality on each project.

    The next big thing may just be a test away… Who Knows?   If you decide to tread along the crowd testing path completely, I’d say plan your next step very carefully as risks are higher.

     

     

  4. Static or Dynamic Website: Which One is Right for Your Business?

    "web basics"When it comes to having an online presence, this is the most basic question of them all.  But for those who are not into the business of developing websites for their brands, this can become a major pain.  Going online is a necessity and most clients would ask how much does it cost to develop a website.  If you’re getting started in building your first website from scratch, it is important that you know which type of site you will require:  Static or Dynamic?  I believe there are countless websites online that can tell you the difference between the two.   What’s crucial though is for you to know which one is really better for your business.  For starters, think of not just how the website will look, but how it will function as well.

    Static vs Dynamic Websites

    Think of acronyms when you will speak to your developer about it.  In a nutshell, a static website is the simplest form you can have built – written in  pure HTML and CSS, minus the scripting.  The only thing interactive on a static site is hyperlinks.  On the other hand, dynamic websites are simply that – they’re dynamic, using programming languages like ASP, .NET, PHP or built on a CMS(Please excuse the jargon speak, just click on the links to lead you to the definition of terms)

    The difference is that it includes scripting to allow interactivity with your site visitors.  Dynamic websites may not be fully interactive like Facebook, but it comes with other elements like contact forms and search boxes.  The site is also sharing the same HTML code for the header, sidebar and menus between all your pages.    To make it simple, a static website is something you can read like an online brochure.. while a dynamic website allows you to use it.

    Which Type of Website is Best for Your Business?

    Majority of business websites today run on dynamic pages and this is not without a reason, especially when user experience is converting more site visitors into customers.  Here are factors to consider when deciding on which type of website you will need.

    Cost

    Static websites are fast and cheap to develop; it’s cheaper to host as well.  Because the structure is simpler, it doesn’t need lots of time for development.  Dynamic websites costs more as it will involve CMS setup, database configuration and the skills of a professional web developer.  Take note though that future updates on static websites may add up and become more costly than having a dynamic website.

    Engagement

    While a static website can be up and running in 24 hours, your audience may not find it useful.  If you want to engage your site visitors more than posting a one-way means of communicating your brand message, a dynamic website is a better option.  Do you want people to buy products from your site’s shopping cart?  Do you want to integrate social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, G+ or Pinterest into your site?  If you want people to share, buy, subscribe, comment or contact you — then, a dynamic website is what you need.

    Content and Functionality

    By the word itself, static websites mean stagnant content.  Dynamic websites add more functionality though and are easier to update.  We all know that search engines love new content these days and that means more traffic for your site.  If you are updating your website frequently, you will do best to stay away from static sites.  While there are debates about static sites getting more SEO juice and ranking higher in the searches — know that getting found online is just a part of the buying process.  What matters more is how to keep people hooked on your website.  Besides, dynamic websites can be accessed through a user-friendly interface that you can use yourself.  A perfect example is WordPress, a blogging platform that is easy for anyone to use.

    You may say that this post is biased to dynamic websites.. and that has a very good reason: Think Long Term.  If you’re in for a limited-time only promotion, a static site like those sales page you see online may work.  Given the majority of website projects I have handled, I’d say that dynamic sites pay off in the end.

    Do you need help setting up your website?  Let’s Talk!

     

     

  5. Adopting Responsive Website Design for Your Business (Part Two)

    "responsive web design"As promised, here’s the second part of my post on building a responsive website for your business.  Truth is, mobile users are growing and while responsive web design has been around for years, it was only in 2012 that people have been talking about it.  This is not without a good reason.  If you’re a retailer doing business online, you would want to take advantage of having your site designed for desktop, tablets and mobile users.. and the challenge is to come up with a single site with flexible design that can adapt to multiple devices.  Customers are not only smarter; they are more demanding this time.  To ensure a seamless user experience is what makes customers coming back for more.

    How to Make Your Website Look Great on Mobile

    I often encounter this question.  Making your website looks great no matter the screen size is something that has baffled many.  In a nutshell, the idea of responsive design is where designers employ HTML5 and CSS to build your website, setting parameters so content in your site will resize properly when viewed vertically or horizontally.  It’s not really that complicated to come up with a way to build a responsive website.  It all starts with one word: Simplicity.  The challenge now is how to come up with a design that offers more content than fancy stuff.  For the same reason, going over the top with your pictures and advertisements can be a problem in creating a responsive design.

    Should You Even Bother?

    Case in point, you must know that responsive design is totally different from mobile design.  While having a mobile version of your website can be great start, you can grow your design to other sizes.  The key here is flexibility.  Everything is flexible – from grids, types and photos.  Sounds complicated?  Not really, that is, if you talk to the right expert about it.  The rise in mobile users is something you can’t miss this time and there’s a big opportunity to capitalize on this growth.  According to The International Telecommunication Union, there were 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide at the end of 2012.. and the number is growing. You can’t ignore this and there’s so much for you to do.

    The Pros and the Cons

    I’m not here to talk about best practices where responsive web design is concerned.  If you’re curious, you can check out this cool infographic from Splio. As with anything new, it is crucial to do your research before you jump into the shiny new object syndrome.  To make things short, consider these when adopting responsive web design:

    PROs

    1. Big brands have started taking advantage of responsive web design and it’s trending.  Delivering flexible content regardless the device makes for a great user experience.

    2. It’s great for SEO as Google will only have to crawl on one version of your site.

    3. Single website code that is viewable in multiple screen sizes makes navigating your site a breeze.

    4. You save time when you want to make a change to a page.  You only do it once, without having to worry about screen sizes.

    5.  Having a single URL to all versions of your website can help provide consistent experience.

    CONs

    1. The technology is still new and not yet widely adopted.

    2. Responsive design may not have an impact on actual revenues, especially for those in E-commerce.

    3.  In terms of investment, responsive web design may be costlier as designers and developers will have to work extra to collaborate on site layouts, architecture and navigation.

    4.  There are limits on what you can tailor for specific screen sizes.

    5.  Typography is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  Making your site easy on the eye can be a challenge.

    Final Thoughts

    I believe that responsive design is not the perfect solution; it is still evolving.  This post has only scratched the surface as we search for ways to make the Web.. a better place.


  6. Adopting Responsive Website Design for Your Business (Part One)

    "responsive design"Gone were the days when we’re looking at websites from the same 12″, 14″, 17″ screens and so on.  In this age of multiple devices, everyone expects to have an optimal viewing experience when visiting your site, or they will simply be added to your bounce rate.  Because it is crucial to convert your website visitors into customers, the last thing you want is to turn them away simply because they can’t resize, pan or scroll as they navigate through pages.  With the proliferation of smart phones, tablets and the mix of both – it’s no wonder how 2013 is dubbed as the Year of Responsive Web Design.. and it’s all the rage.

    Do You Really Need a Responsive Website?

    Mashable may have started all the buzz, but with the continuing rise of mobile device users – all the more that consumers are looking for mobile-friendly sites.  Responsive websites normally work by detecting the device or the resolution being used – and adjusting your site so it fits perfectly on screen.  Should you even bother investing time and money into this?  The adoption may be slow, but we are seeing more companies optimizing their sites for mobile marketing, especially those into eCommerce.  Having a responsive website means bringing a seamless experience to your users in every step of their online journey.  In fact, it may surprise you how it’s easier to find responsive websites because you only have a single URL to start with.

    The Future of Web Development

    Thanks to this kind of artificial intelligence that eliminates the need of having various design stages for every sort of gadgets out there, you get to save time updating content and provide the best customer experience possible.  The cost may be a bit higher and this is why it’s important for you to do your research first.  How many percentage of your site visitors are on mobile? If it’s a small number, you may adopt these smart grids slowly so you can strike a balance between quality and load time for your site.  Capital One has recently joined the roster of brands who are into responsive design, together with Sony and Starbucks, just to name a few.  In spite of the challenges in creating a fluid grid and many other things, I believe that responsive web design is something to look out for in the future.

    3 Major Things to Consider in Building a Responsive Site

    Just like any other tools, this is not a magic wand that will fix all of your marketing pains.  While having a single site for all platforms and devices is a major benefit, consider these in your planning:

    1.  Keep a simple, clean and flexible layout
    2.  Stick to your main content and Call-to-Action… and get rid of the rest
    3.  Quality is Everything — from image resolution to text size

    I would love to expound more on how to make your responsive site stick to these timeless mantra, but for now, keep in mind the adage: ‘form follows function’.  And this is another item for my next post.  Stay tuned!

    -End of Part One-

  7. Three Inconvenient Truths About IT and Business

    "it business challenge"If there’s one thing we have learned throughout these years, it’s this:  Business is no longer confined to a single territory.  Thanks to robust applications and new technology, growing your very own business these days is less costly and a tad simpler.  To be a leader in your niche is something that many of us are still trying to figure out and together with the digital revolution comes the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle… and most of us are no closer to solving the pieces that will determine our very own success.  What went wrong?

    Exploring the Nemesis Within

    To quote from this lively discussion in Linkedin, it’s mentioned that ’25% of businesses fail within their first year and an astonishing 70% of businesses fail within ten years…’ Perhaps, if we can explore the truth behind this statement, then, we may be able to come up with realistic solutions that will address which factors will lead to our business success or failure.  I would like to start off with these issues as seen from the eyes of a software developer and an entrepreneur:

    Three Inconvenient Truths that IT and Business Leaders Need to Face

    Truth #1  You’re Not Looking in the Right Place

    An idea, no matter how brilliant, is useless unless it is turned into a working model.  Problem is, we have always asked ourselves why we haven’t thought of that.. as we read news about this new product that became a huge, overnight success.  If you have asked the geniuses behind these wonders, they will tell you that they have never thought of making a profit firsthand.. instead, they wanted to solve this problem they have in their own life.  That’s just half of the equation though.  The other half is being open to change.  Your love for your idea may keep you blinded from better opportunities out there.

    Truth #2  Invasion of Privacy

    With the convergence of cloud, social and mobile comes a new era where companies are starting to breathe life into their social business.  While there are many benefits to be had when you connect with customers in new ways, the price gets higher this time as companies follow closely the online activities of their target market so they can up their chances of selling something, with the hopes that there will be less room to say no to that offer.  In a perfect world, IT objectives support business goals.  But with this new threat to data security, the risk is simply higher.  Improving IT compliance can be a long and windy road to take, and minimizing risk is all but a perception.

    Truth #3  Do we really need data scientists?

    With all the buzz that big data is creating, most of us are lost on whether we should base our every business decision from data analytics alone.  For the reason that you can’t improve what you can’t measure, we swim deeper into the murky pool of tools in our hunt for the next business intelligence which will help us gain our competitive edge.  In the process of doing so, creativity-driven decisions are set aside and businesses start to lose sight of the real context of what they see in their enterprise data.  As sheer volume of data is collected, you forgot to ask better questions on how to improve your business.

    I believe that when we start to address these inconvenient truths, then that’s the time that we can really create the most productive approach in handling business and IT issues altogether.

    …and the devil is in the details?