Putting the user first

Understanding the user and what they’re trying to accomplish is at the core of our development process here at BitBakery.

Our clients trust us to provide complete tech teams to build their MVP – minimum viable product. When we tackle these projects, we put the user at the center of our process. This ensures we’ve got the right problems identified before we start designing. 

Whether you call it human-centred design or design thinking, it’s a straightforward way of doing discovery that we use on every project. 

In my intro post, I shared with you that I’m starting my journey to learn as much about user experience design as I can. My role as a Software QA Engineer gives me a chance to work with our head of design and our developers. I get to see the entire design and development process unfold – and help shape some of the decisions we make.

Here’s a few of my takeaways so far – 

Know who you’re designing for

One of the first steps in the discovery phase is creating personas. These are representations of users – and can include their education, family background, likes/dislikes and more. Personas are meant to represent groups of users. A great design will target the right users, most of the time, not the entire world. 

Research here is crucial. We want to get the most accurate and reliable representation of the users that will use the product. We take a look at the product market to get a better profile of what ideal users could be. 

We work with our clients in creating the personas. Together, we iterate potential personas until we have a good set to work with. This helps us optimize for the right users by using their insights into their business and industry.

Keep your user stories simple

Creating personas is the foundation. With well-developed personas, we can move on to researching and identifying the right problems. To do this, we start with larger problems called epics and then start to break those down using our personas.
When writing epics, it is important to keep them simple while still describing the core of the users’ needs. “You’re not describing a solution you are describing the need of the user”, said Attila Schmidt, our Director of User Experience and Interface. Here’s a look at the hierarchy we use when writing out epics:

Epics should be high-level so we can group similar tasks together to start identifying problems. These epics are then broken down into user stories. User stories focus more in-depth about why a user may have a certain need:

User stories must also be simple enough to allow for developer creativity. If you give too much detail, you are limiting the possible solutions. “We, as designers, may have an idea of how we would like to see a feature, but we would be taking away the possibility of getting a much better method thought out by developers,” Schmidt said. 

Our developers then take these stories and create sub-tasks. They describe specific features that will become the puzzle pieces of the product. This is typically where our developers come up with innovative and optimized solutions!

Never stop learning

The discovery process is more than just identifying the problems – and it doesn’t end when development begins. The process helps drive open and consistent communication between our clients and our team of developers, designers, and QA teams. At BitBakery we make it a priority to keep everyone up to date throughout the duration of the project.

I recently attended a talk about how design teams can leverage other teams to change design culture by Matt Rae. What stood out to me the most is having the entire team involved during the design iteration process. This is key, everyone involved in the tech team can give valuable feedback. Such feedback will not only serve well for the current project but for subsequent ones as well. 

Talks like these really stand out to me. They always push us to improve our tech team environment. Together, with our clients, we can always try to optimize our product development. 

If this sparked as much interest to you as it did for me, I suggest attending community talks. There are amazing UX community initiatives here in the Waterloo Region. Here are some of my regulars: 

UXWaterloo – by Communitech P2P 

UX Book Club

Terminal Talks

Shopify Tech Talks

So, say hello if you see me at one of these. Until next time! 

Keep updated on my journey here at BitBakery.

Say hello to our newest BitBaker – Diana Valdes

Our new Software QA Engineer Diana Valdes

For many of us, our time at university or college is where we discover what we want to do as our careers begin. It was in her fourth year studying civil engineering that our newest BitBaker, Diana Valdes, discovered her first career step would be into an entirely different area of study – user experience and interaction design.

Born in Colombia and raised right here in Kitchener, Valdes joined the BitBakery team in December as our Software QA Engineer. Even with her career change, Valdes continued her studies and earned her degree in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2019. “I really liked studying civil engineering, but I wanted to work in something where I could make a more direct and dynamic impact on people’s life.”

After a well-deserved vacation touring South East Asia, Valdes returned to Kitchener and began her job search. In the fall, Valdes attended the Partnerships for Employment Career Fair organized by the University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. Valdes stopped by our booth and made an impression on our team.

We were looking for someone with her enthusiasm and openness to learning for the Software QA Engineer role. For Valdes, it was a great opportunity as her previous co-ops had all been in civil engineering and construction. “This role helps me learn a lot about all aspects of software development,” Valdes said. “It’s like a bootcamp for tech!”

Valdes sees BitBakery’s focus on continuous learning as a way for her to start exploring user experience processes, tools, and theories. “UX can have a positive impact on people’s lives. I love digging into what users actually want and working to make it easier and better.” Valdes attended this month’s uWaterloo meetup to hear from Faire’s Robin Bigio and Davis Neable, UX Director at Manulife.

The discussion was perfect timing for Valdes. “What I remember the most about the talk was the discussion about leadership and management,” added Valdes. “Great leadership should be helping your team not just on the next project, but also to achieve the ‘next big thing’ in their career.” 

We’re excited to have Diana on our team and look forward to helping her achieve her next big thing. Interested in learning more about how we work at BitBakery? Check out our career page to learn more.

One browser engine to rule them all

Checking out the developer tools in Microsoft Edge

There was major news in the world of web browsers last week. Microsoft released a major update to their Microsoft Edge browser that replaces their own EdgeHTML engine with Google’s Chromium engine. It’s a massive shift for Microsoft and a significant increase in Google’s leadership of the web’s core technologies. 

Our team here at BitBakery has been putting this latest Chromium-based Microsoft Edge release through its paces over the last week. Here’s what we think so far.

Simplified development and QA testing

Developers and QA testers know one universal truth of building for the web – just because something works in one browser, doesn’t mean it will work in every browser. An awesome animation built with JQuery works great in Chrome but remains motionless in Internet Explorer – yes, we’ve all been there. Moving to Microsoft Edge to be Chromium-based means more consistency in how frameworks function. Developers will find the same level of support in Microsoft Edge as they do in Google Chrome when building web apps.

The built-in Developer Tools within Microsoft Edge are also very close to those provided in Google Chrome. This means there’s no additional time needed to get familiar with a new set of dev and debugging tools.

Browser deployment and security

Google Chrome has a whopping 69% share of the browser market. If you’re developing consumer websites and applications, the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge could potentially reduce the complexity of your dev and QA processes since it shares its core engine with Google Chrome. 

Microsoft Edge is the successor to Microsoft Internet Explorer which dominated large enterprise companies for years. If your company still uses Microsoft Internet Explorer, well, Microsoft really wants you to stop. From a security and stability standpoint, Microsoft Internet Explorer has not been updated in a few years, potentially exposing your systems and data to malicious attacks. If you have internal web apps that require Microsoft Internet Explorer, Edge offers an IE11 compatibility mode for Windows that should allow those internal web apps to function. This feature isn’t available in Microsoft Edge on macOS.

The future of the world wide web

While the move to Chromium is great for developers, it does continue to solidify Google’s dominance when it comes to web standards. This increased market share means Google has an even stronger hand in directing which frameworks and tools have support. 

Apple’s Safari browser and Mozilla’s Firefox are now the only two major non-Chromium browsers on the market. For developers and testers, there’s still a need to include these in your planning. There have been rumors of a switch to Chromium for Apple’s Safari, but for now the company has said they have no plans in the works.

As a trusted source for outsourced development, BitBakery is adding the latest Microsoft Edge releases to our testing plans. We’re here to answer any questions you have about this or any other outsourced development question.