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Suggested by our brains as we interact with the environment, and perfected by evolution, intuition on a daily basis is...

Suggested by our brains as we interact with the environment, and perfected by evolution, intuition on a daily basis is one of our best allies, giving us cues of how things should work without previous knowledge. 

Before diving deep, let’s start with the basics. 

Affordances 101

UX designers left the chat…

An affordance is a single attribute of an object, which invites the user to carry out an action.

A quick way to understand affordances is by thinking of all the potential uses we might find for an object. So basically, affordances are all around us. The reason why we grab (hot) coffee mugs from the handle and not from the cup, push and pull doors, and why we know how to roll but not kick a bowling ball is the effect of how our brain delivers us cues (affordances) to accurately assume how things should work.

How do we know we can do all of this? Because of their physical properties.

Physical properties play a key role to help us understand what are the affordances these objects have. Size, material, and shape for example will let us know if you can grab and throw the ball, or instead, roll it through the floor. These physical properties can help us understand what objects can do.

Affordance and luxury cars

In 2015, a button design may have cost the American brand Lincoln some bucks in their revenue after recalling from the market 13,574 cars because the engine start/stop button had to be moved. Why? -you may ask yourself- Well, it seemed like the drivers accidentally pushed the stop button while driving at full speed and I think everyone knows it’s not safe to turn off your vehicle while driving.

Affordances in the physical world are evident, their physical attributes provide hints of what you can do with them. In most cases, objects have a perceptible affordance, as their characteristics imply a specific action. That feeling we get when we look at a switch, a knob, or a red button.

A red button affords to be pushed, due to its shape, its color, and a pre-existing convention in human culture of pushing it when you are told not to. 

Designing affordances with the user experience in mind

In a digital environment, objects don’t directly influence human perception due to the lack of a 3-dimensional space in which we can interact with it easily. The job of a designer is to use visual cues to create objects/elements that produce an almost natural response by the user.

In 1988, Don Norman took the lead in implementing affordances in the context of human-computer interaction. Norman emphasized the need for explicit visual cues demonstrating the user what can they do with a certain device or widget within an interface. 

  • Interactive Elements
  • Scrollbars
  • Command Buttons
  • Links
  • Icons

The previous are basic examples of elements that can be designed to help give the user sufficient suggestions of how they can interact with a digital interface.

What types of digital affordances can we find?

In a physical state, it is pretty straightforward to identify obvious affordances around your surroundings. The digital playground is a whole different experience, cues for the user to use the digital space intuitively are harder to provide on behalf of the designer as contrary to the real world.

  1. Explicit affordances:  provide tangible cues with pretty straightforward actions for the user to notice. Labels are one example as they can indicate the functionality of a specific element.
  2. Metaphorical: Sometimes thinking about real-life references can be a great idea if you are not sure how to carry out a certain functionality. They make clever use of skeuomorphism design to convey the functionality of digital objects making a relationship with a similar real-life object. For example, a floppy disk icon will tell users that it’s a save button.
  3. Patterns: created mostly by users who frequently interact around the web establishing conventions. These affordances are fueled up by the user’s preferences. For example, clicking on a company’s website logo is an effective way of returning to the website’s home page. There is no logical reason behind this, taking into account the company’s logo doesn’t give any specific hint of this action, but still has been established as a convention across the internet. Using common patterns will help you meet users’ expectations.
  4. Implicit/Hidden: these affordances are not that obvious for the human eye. These usually remain hidden until the user makes a certain action. One example is usually a drop-down menu that appears while hovering or clicking.
  5. False: they suggest the user performs a particular action that will lead to a specific outcome, but, upon completing the action, either nothing or something unexpected happens. For example, an underlined text that isn’t a link.
  6. Negative: this type of affordance indicates when you don’t have an affordance. An example of this is when you want to indicate that you can’t do an action, perhaps having a disabled button that doesn’t let you continue until you fill out all your form.

How can affordances impact radically on your user experience?

The role of UX in the digital transformation journey is to design expertly crafted and intuitive human-computer experiences that both engage and delight end-users. Through the knowledge and implementation of affordances, the user experience can be refreshing and intuitive or a messy and confusing nightmare, and because of this, it may be a tricky task. Users cannot carry desired actions if the objects do not afford them to. So we insist that UX designers MUST build web and mobile interfaces where users shouldn’t think twice about what they are doing. 

“When affordances are taken advantage of, the user knows what to do just by looking: no picture, label, or instruction needed.”
— Don Norman, Grand Old Man of User Experience

By understanding how users think, designers may implement the correct elements to produce the desired outcome on behalf of the user.

*Mark Zuckerberg strongly approves*

How can affordances add value to your business?

Now more than ever, the digital era is upon us with great pressure on business owners to adapt to the increasing demand for digital solutions that make people’s life easier every day. Companies must invest in modern and efficient solutions to adapt their business operations to the market trend.

A key element of the success of these investments is how well are received these new tools by the consumer. The level of satisfaction that is perceived by a consumer when using a digital service may refer directly to the user experience. Digital solutions must not focus only on delivering a good cost/benefit product to their consumers but also on making them easy and intuitive to use. After all, what good is having the latest and greatest technology if no one understands how to use it?

So… Why do we push red buttons?

Affordances are everywhere. As we shop, browse, interact, play, and learn, in other words, they shape how we see our world. Designers across all industries, from experts to first-timers, must have affordances in mind to create self-explanatory objects. Acknowledging affordances by following established conventions when designing digital interfaces, will speak directly to a user and help build a memorable and lasting experience. 

This is essential in the emerging digital era, because it provides guidelines to users, for them to easily adapt to technological change. A strategy that includes user-led design will ensure your designs, communicate the affordances that best meet your end user’s needs, and will most likely ensure the intent of the application is perceived and actionable for all users. 

The reason why we push red buttons is the same as why millionaires buy expensive and luxurious goods because they can afford it.

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Remote work hasn’t been an impediment to celebrating our favorite holidays with the team. This time we had the...

Remote work hasn’t been an impediment to celebrating our favorite holidays with the team. This time we had the opportunity to celebrate Friendship Day by learning how to make homemade coffee and bread through Zoom. 

We knew we wanted to do something special for the team and with the help of a local bakery called Pan y Café, we sent them a package full of goodies which included the ingredients, a mug, and a freshly baked banana and chocolate bread.

From the moment they received the package, everyone started to share pictures of it on Slack and social media. At that point, we had the feeling the event was going to be a success. We were right!

On the day of the event, we started the Zoom meeting with music while we waited for everyone to join. The baker of Pan y Café started explaining to us why each ingredient was important and the role they had in the recipe, and then (our favorite part) he started to teach us how to make delicious bread.

While we were waiting for the dough to rise, we learned how to make Tinto (strong Colombian coffee) using a cloth filter. If you haven’t tried our coffee, we highly recommend you order some right now. Colombia is known for its delicious and tasty coffee.

These were the results of the experience; freshly baked bread, and a happy team! Activities like this are what help us build a stronger relationship, and keep us happy during these difficult times.

We are extremely thankful for everyone who made this possible, and we hope we can keep celebrating moments like this together, even if they have to be via zoom for now.

A message for the team

We are blessed to have such an amazing and talented team. This year has been a challenge for everyone but you are rocking it and we are very proud. Thank you for always being there for us. Happy Friendship Day!

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One lesser discussed benefit of hiring nearshore developers and designers is that you get more bang for your buck...

One lesser discussed benefit of hiring nearshore developers and designers is that you get more bang for your buck. Hiring the right nearshore software team will help you to minimize the spend and maximize the output leaving you with more budget to allocate elsewhere.

Keep in mind cost-benefit does not mean less output or quality of work, just make sure you have the right team in place with the right culture.

Here are some of the benefits many of our customers see when working with their nearshore teams:

Nearshore teams provide up to 50% cost-benefit

Compared to salaries in major US cities, you can hire a nearshore engineer for up to 50% of the cost if you hire locally.

Minimize spend while maximizing output

Having the right partner to help you screen and recruit the right people will help you create the right team of experts to maximize output while keeping within or under budget.

Quality is not compromised

Optimizing your spending does not mean that you need to compromise on quality. A dedicated team with the right partner to help you manage will ensure you have an A+ team of experts.

Hire a small team instead of a single person

By allocating your budget towards a team instead of a single person, you can specialize your team into key areas that will help you produce the best output. For example, instead of hiring one local engineer, you can hire two plus a quality assurance expert. Specializing the team into key areas means you have the right people for the job.

Having a group also means you reduce risk by distributing knowledge. This way there is no single point of failure and your team can keep moving forward even if someone is not available.

Access to more talent, right expertise

Thinking globally and going nearshore means you widen your access to the right experts. Having the right partner to screen and bring you that talent is key.

Re-allocate budget in places where you need it

Perhaps you could use a bit more budget for marketing, sales, or another key area of your business. The cash you free up by hiring nearshore will help you re-allocate.

Find the right partner, never compromise on quality. You can build the right team exactly to your needs.

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I believe 2020 will always be remembered as the year COVID-19 forced companies to change their corporate culture....

I believe 2020 will always be remembered as the year COVID-19 forced companies to change their corporate culture. The pandemic negatively impacted everyone’s lives but it also brought innovation and positive effects into our routines and work life. 

At Ideaware we like to see this challenge as an opportunity to transform, grow, and make positive changes in our office culture, which it’s now called: work-from-home culture. We decided to make the best of it and a positive mind has been our biggest ally to help us stay focused, productive and happy.

Remote work is not something new for us, even before the quarantine our nearshore/outsourced development teams used to work remotely at least once a week as a perk, but since the pandemic started, our team has fully transitioned to this work model. We have also adopted other important changes that have made this transition easier, keeping our team cheerful, healthy and safe.

Work-from-home updates

During the last months, our family life has merged with our work life. Now we can enjoy all the benefits of working from home with our families close by. In light of this shift, here’s how we’ve kept our team culture and remained connected:

  • Virtual Learning Activities: We host a weekly event called Homespace where any team member can talk and teach about any subject they want. We love to learn and keep ourselves updated!
  • Town Halls: A time to chat, share news/updates and have a drink with the team. Cheers!
  • Coffee Breaks: Every Tuesday we meet with the team to catch up, introduce our pets, talk about our favorite books/movies or share our favorite restaurants & food recipes. Conversations are a great way to foster team building.
  • Weekly Challenges: Our team loves to compete for prizes (who doesn’t?). We organize a weekly contest with activities that allow the whole team to participate, such as: Where is Waldo?, recreate a childhood photo, most creative video and scavengers hunts, to name a few. It is fun and cheers everyone up!
  • Game Tournaments: Last month we hosted our first Mario Kart tournament! Our team would meet at zoom to watch the competitors while they were playing in the mobile app version. It was a great experience and the team loved it!
  • Welcome to the Team Meetings: to introduce new team members, we organize a zoom meeting where we all say hi and talk about who we are and our hobbies. It’s a great way to meet the team & makes the onboarding process easier!
  • Birthday Celebrations: We used to celebrate birthdays with the whole team at the office but now that we are working remotely we send a yummy cake to the birthday boy/girl and wish them a happy birthday first thing in the morning.

Aside from having perks, we also make sure everyone in the team has everything they need to get their best work done from home:

  • Internet Bonus: the dynamic of working remotely revolves around video conferences, emails, slack conversations, sending and receiving large files, among others. To be able to keep up with the flow and provide a fast response to our clients, which is one of our top priorities, our team must have an excellent internet connection. This is why every month we give them an extra bonus to ensure the quality of their service.
  • Office Supplies: some of us were not prepared to move our office space to our homes. Having an appropriate work environment is important to feel productive and focused. For this reason we provided our team with chairs, desks and extra monitors to help them feel as comfortable as possible while working from home.
  • Healthcare Benefits: The well-being of our team is important to us, and with that in mind we have expanded our health benefits. During this time of crisis it is more important than ever to have access to great healthcare.

“It goes way further than just having the right tools in place, it is about creating culture and a feeling of belonging.” Andres Max, CEO at Ideaware.

Messages from the team

Rebeca, Talent Acquisition Manager:
“Being home, 100% of the time, has been a significant change for all of us, but keeping us safe means that we care about our close ones and the community. In this new normality, we have stayed very united as a group; the key has been having fun activities, coffee breaks, and getting the opportunity to know each other in a more personal way by introducing our children, pets, and family. We are delighted to continue welcoming new members to Ideaware, and it has been gratifying to know that even at a distance, they have felt an essential part of the team.”

Andres Max, CEO:
“One moment we were working together at the office, the next we were forced to stay at home and take care of our families and community. Aside from how we do business development, our biggest shift has been how to keep our team culture, remain close and most importantly: take care of our mental health. We have changed many of our policies and perks to our new reality. We now enjoy online get togethers, fun contests, group learning and sharing activities. We aim to keep finding new ways not only to get our best work done but also to stay focused on what matters and happy.”

Gabriella, UX/UI Designer:
“We’re all living through challenging times. Our routines have shifted dramatically in just six months while we stay safe at home. Shout out to our office that has really helped us by giving us all the necessary support and tools in order to feel comfortable working from home. Personally, it has given me the flexibility to spend quality time with my family, while my productivity and work-life balance has improved. A definite win for me has been diminishing eating takeout food and improving my cooking skills. On top of this, I have created a daily workout routine that helps me start each day with great energy. – So there’s that – We need to embrace changes and learn how to adapt by staying positive and most importantly staying safe.”

Filiberto, Backend Developer:
We are living a worldwide phenomenon never before seen in our lifetimes during the 21st century. We must all agree that it has not been an easy task for anybody to adapt to our new lifestyle. Sadly a lot of people lost their jobs as a consequence of the low income in multiple economic sectors. However there were companies that were able to adapt to this crisis and I feel lucky to be a part of one of them. I feel very fortunate to be able to continue doing my job-related tasks from home, knowing that Ideaware has provided me with everything I need to keep my work up to date for my clients. Not only have we been able to keep our projects ongoing but have also come closer to our teammates and the company has done a great job by keeping us in constant communication with fun at-home activities. During these past 6 months I had to adapt to a new set of activities and challenges in order to improve as a person. Even though I have been staying inside of my house I haven’t stopped making progress and the idea of pursuing my goals has pushed me to embrace our situation and make the best of it.”

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Before we go to a Job interview, there are a number of things that cross our mind regarding what to do before...

Before we go to a Job interview, there are a number of things that cross our mind regarding what to do before, during, and after to ensure that we make a good impression on our potential employer and get that longed-for job.

As a Talent Acquisition Manager, I like to assist the candidates throughout the entire hiring process. During the week, I conduct several virtual interviews and witness firsthand that when candidates feel unsure or nervous, it can undermine their potential employment. For that reason, I’m writing a  post specifically dedicated to give you some tips that will help you out along the way.

Nowadays most teams are mixed, and many of them are remote, so, time is very valuable. As a nearshore software and web development company, Ideaware hosts 95% of interviews virtually.

If your interview is already scheduled, that means that you’ve passed the resume and profile overview. Great! Now you have the opportunity to meet face to face with your potential employer before the decision is made.

Get ready!

To start, the most important tip is to prepare yourself in advance. This is the key that will help you secure that job you are looking for. But, what to do first?

Focus on the little, but very important details:

  1. Remember to review the description of the position you are applying for.
  2. Update your knowledge of the company’s history, know their mission, vision and values. It’s also a great idea to check out their website page, app or social media, you could find a lot of material that will help you be more prepared.
  3. If you have information regarding the project or the client you are going to be interviewing by, do some research on it as well.
  4. Practice good manners and correct body language.

Prepare your workspace

The basic checklist:

  1. Internet connection: It plays a vital role during and after the interview, at Ideaware we make sure our nearshore/offshore teams own an excellent internet connection since this is essential for remote working. We encourage you to check the quality of your service before the meeting.
  2. Audio and Video-enable: Audio and video quality are essential, you want the conversation to be as fluid as possible. To be ready, pre-test the proper functioning of the audio and video.
  3. Proper lighting: Soft, direct, daylight or non-yellow light is best. Keep your distance to the camera, but don’t go too far. The ideal  distance should be about an arm’s length.
  4. A quiet place: If you are taking the interview at home or in a coffee shop, choose a place as quiet as possible, free of interruptions. A quiet environment is fundamental to give the right answers and make the proper questions.
  5. The background: Make sure your background is clean and uncluttered. Try to avoid any visual distractions during the interview.  A white background is always a great option.
  6. Proper attire: The formality of your outfit often depends on the job you are getting interviewed for, you can research the company’s dress code or ask about it. As a general rule it’s always wise to opt for neutral colors, choose clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident, we encourage you to use plain t-shirts or nice sweaters. Avoid revealing clothes. Keep it casual, but not informal.

Once you consider all the recommendations listed above, you will be set up for the interview! 

You would think these tips are common for people who work from home, but you will be surprised how these simple details are forgotten from time to time, so keep in mind that getting this done will ensure your success.

Every interview is a chance to show what it is like to work with you and demonstrate who you are in a professional environment. In this scenario, the first impression matters and being prepared generates self-confidence, which will help you ROCK the interview. 

Now that we have already talked about your set up, let’s share some tips for a smooth and productive conversation that flows effortlessly with your interviewer. It’s all about being professional at a high level!

How to handle the interview meeting

  1. Punctuality, it is the first step to make a great impression, shows responsibility and professional work ethic. Being on time means you pay attention to details, proves that you do value other people’s time and that you are a team player.
  2. Show a happy mood and a positive attitude. Smile!
  3. Be an active part of the conversation during the interview. To break the ice, you may start talking about topics that you are comfortable with, this will help you to get ready to present yourself.
  4. Encourage yourself to ask questions to your interviewer, it will show you are interested.
  5. Keep in hand your code repository, portfolio, projects and all the relevant work you have done,  in case you are asked to show them. Let your achievements speak for you!
  6.  Be thankful for the opportunity.

The interview has finished, what’s next?

You did it! Now, you may wonder, what to do after? Well, once the interview is done, it’s perfectly ok to ask for the next steps and feedback. Interviews give you a chance to improve yourself as a professional. Receiving feedback and taking the time to review your own performance during the meeting will help you to acknowledge your strengths and work on your flaws.

Sometimes after having a job interview, getting an answer takes a little longer than expected. If there’s a question you wish you had answered differently or a point you wanted to demonstrate, you can always keep in touch with the recruiter or interviewers to follow up on the process and clear up any doubts. Two positive things can happen, either you are the selected candidate, or you are half-way through the hiring process for further opportunities.

No matter how many tips or recommendations you read, it is normal to feel nervous before any  interview. The idea of this post is to help you to not put too much pressure on yourself and to feel confident. 

Visit our Careers Page for our open positions, perks and benefits. We want you to join our team, feel welcome to email us at hr@ideaware.co to apply for that position you have been waiting for! 

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“Why is project management important?”, this is an interesting question that clients sometimes ...

“Why is project management important?”, this is an interesting question that clients sometimes raise. They’ll ask: “Can’t we just give instructions to the team and manage it ourselves? It’ll be cheaper.”

Project management is often thought to be an unnecessary addition to the budget, and yes it might be perceived as expensive. However, running projects without good project management is a false economy.

But can you afford to not have a project manager?

In my point of view, it is very simplistic to say that project managers are the guardians of the triple constraints (Scope, time and cost). It’s well known that software companies are highly likely to implement agile methodologies to manage their projects, one of the most popularly used frameworks is Scrum. According to Ken Schwaber, commonly known as “The father of Scrum” you must start your project by following the process rules to successfully deliver value. 

Scrum = 3 Roles + 4 Artifacts + 5 meetings. 

Roles

There are three main roles: Development Team, Product Owner and Scrum Master. The Development Team refers to a small group of people that do the work. The Product Owner refers to the individual responsible for obtaining funding, defining initial requirements, managing priorities and project goals. According to the PMI Organisation, the Scrum Master has the closest proximity to a Project Manager. This individual is responsible for the Scrum process and serves as a facilitator for the team, making sure meetings take place on a daily basis, ensuring documentation is up to date and being there for the team at all times. If you’d like your project to go into the right direction you must ensure you’ve gotten these three roles covered up.

Artifacts

Artifacts are documents that facilitate information management. According to Scrum agilist there are 4 documents that should be used on a daily basis to successfully drive the team and deliver value. These are: Product Backlog (Prioritisation of the work), Product Vision (Project goals), Scrum board (Organisation of the work) and Burndown chart (Work Velocity).

Forbes magazine highlights the importance of having the project documentation readily available and organised in one place. Everyone should have a clear understanding of where to go and how to find information. Based on my personal experience from working on Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, good project management requires investing time and effort on documenting (Regardless of the project background, goals and the methodology of choice). 

Communication

About 75-90 percent of a project manager’s time is spent formally or informally communicating, according to PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (aka, PMBOK). No surprise then, how much communication is linked to project success. Scrum methodology uses at least 5 structured meetings and encourages casual touch points on a daily and weekly basis. Bear in mind that a project manager ensures the scrum process takes place, and needs to be there for the team at all times. The development team is focused on doing the work; without a PM, what’s holding the team and your vision together?

Does my remote team need a remote Project Manager?

“While clear communication is always necessary when managing a team, it is especially the case when working remotely”, states the Chief Strategy Officer for Cicayda in his Forbes article. On the other hand,  Mark Robinson, Co-Founder of Krimble Applications states “In order to successfully manage a remote team is specifically critical to give access to up-to-date and relevant information and encourage them to use their judgment to make appropriate decisions”. John Carter, Founder TCGen Inc. states on TechBeacon: “Team members must not only have a single version of the truth, but also know that it is the most current version. Make one individual responsible for the document and allow only that person to edit it. He also adds  “The most important aspect of staying agile in virtual teams is to keep the roles of the Scrum Master (SM) and Product Owner (PO)”. 

Great project management means much more than keeping the triple constraints in check, delivering on time, budget and scope. It unites you and your team, creates a vision for a successful project and gets everyone on the same page. When projects are managed properly, there is a positive impact that reverberates beyond results. According to experts, the need for a project manager only accentuates when working with a remote team. I would add to the previous statement that it is especially important now.  We are not just managing the regular WFH challenges, but we are dealing with a world health crisis. This has definitely an effect on individuals and it is now especially important to be there for the team. It’s key to sense the team spirit and identify any ups and downs that may undermine their performance and somehow impact the project’s goals. 

5 Reasons why your remote team needs a PM

  1. A great project manager is a team facilitator. It’s key to sense the team spirit and identify any ups and downs that may undermine performance and impact the project goals.
  2. Great project management means much more than delivering on time, budget, and scope. It unites clients and teams, creates a vision for a successful project and gets everyone on the same page of what’s needed to stay on track for success.
  3. According to Ken Schwaber commonly known as “The father of Scrum”,  you must start your project by following the process rules to successfully deliver value. A dedicated project manager supporting the team adhering to these process rules will increase the project success rate.
  4. According to experts, the need for a project manager only accentuates when working with a remote team. When projects are managed properly, there’s a positive impact that reverberates beyond the delivery of results.
  5. You could manage the team yourself  if you are ready to invest the time and effort required, plus have a good understanding of the methodology used. Good project management will have a crucial impact on project success.

So coming back to the question, you ask: “Can’t we just give instructions to the team and manage them ourselves? It’ll be cheaper.” Yes, you could manage the team yourself, if you are ready to invest the time and effort required. On top of that, it is a must that you have a good understanding of the methodology used. The team needs a Project Manager, whether you are ready to take the role or prefer to hire an expert, as project management will have a crucial impact on project success.

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Many years ago, I started to develop my first application using VB.Net (Visual Basic). The idea was to control ...

Many years ago, I started to develop my first application using VB.Net (Visual Basic). The idea was to control the assets for a company. This app had an average of 10 forms approx. with many inputs, buttons, grids, among others. I was alone in the project and had to figure out everything on my own. Besides, I didn’t have any idea about how to organize the different components on each form. But when I was testing the app I realized that my experience as a user was much better if inputs, buttons, spaces and margins were well placed.

While developing the app I learned the importance of colors in a website. Being the only one working on the project forced me to work as the designer and complete review cycles as the QA. Throughout this process I understood that without a good UI, colors won’t have the same impact and the user will not have a good impression of the product.

Each time we build a product, we have a new opportunity to see the development process with other eyes, mainly the users’ ones. Focusing on their needs to solve the different issues in the simplest way possible will allow us to deliver the best experience for the end users.

As developers, we need to change our minds, acknowledging that we could avoid so many obstacles by just following a good UI/UX design pattern. And this is the catch: designers should always be present from the beginning to the end of the development process.

Designers are the ones in charge of leading the road to outstandings deliverables. Our role as developers is to assemble the ideas they put together in a canvas and turn them into UI components. However the way those components should be presented is a game changer decision: an application might work well but if it doesn’t look good it won’t sell. A solid experience in UX modeling and a good judgement for web interfaces are the key skills to successfully create a clean design.

Our main mission as developers is not to write code to get a salary, but understand the purpose of the UI elements and the way they work. Why? Because that will help us to know what the user needs and get a better perspective of what would be the best way of building them.

Designers can see deep in the functionality of each component because they have clearance on what the client is expecting in the different faces of the project. So it is always a good practice to ask for a well detailed explanation of the design’s structures and the way the components interact between each other. A good development strategy is always based on a good understanding of the project’s goals.

Another important reason that we need to keep in mind is that a product is a process that requires a considerable amount of phases before the final one. That’s the only way the users are going to have the best experience that adds real value to their life. Patience is a great ally on this whole journey.

Overall we just need to remind ourselves that creating an app is a magnificent journey full of hard decisions and complex issues. No project can be successful if there is no alliance between the design and development teams. Moreover is a learning path for both parties in which each one of the members can sharpen their skills by sharing their knowledge with each other in order to shape a high quality product.

Finally, having consistent design patterns and the best UX as possible, we allow users to understand how the application works more quickly and more efficiently.The UI is the guide for users throughout an application or software, using different elements such as fonts, color palettes, images and a whole world of animations and components. It isn’t a matter of making something great, but at the same time creating something useful.

At Ideaware, we’ve helped startup founders and fast-growing companies around the world “staff and scale” their software design and engineering teams. Our team is focused on hiring in the top 5% of developers and designers in Colombia.

If you need to build something special, we can help you to achieve it. Our talented team can bring life to your ideas. Contact Us

When it comes to Software outsourcing, your best option may be closer to you than you imagine. Same continent...

When it comes to Software outsourcing, your best option may be closer to you than you imagine. Same continent, same time zone and similar culture are just a few reasons for Nearshoring.

Software nearshoring has become a great option for companies in the U.S. Problems like tech talent shortage, high turnover rates and our current world situation are some of the causes why businesses in the tech industry are opting for this model.

A report from Linkedin has shown that the tech (software) industry has the highest turnover rate at 13.2% and it claims that one of the reasons why retaining tech talent is so difficult is due to high-demand and rising compensation within the industry. Companies like Amazon and Google who we would think are the dream work places for Developers and UX/UI Designers suffer from this problem according to Forbes Magazine. 

Another issue is the tech talent shortage, which is about to grow worse since the U.S. government signed an executive order temporarily suspending work visas like the H-1B for foreign workers in specialty occupations. According to an article from TechCrunch, this ban will hit Silicon Valley hard, forcing companies to move their operations to other countries.

Due to the talent shortage and the fact that employees tend to stay in companies for one to two years, it has become extremely difficult to find and retain new top talent in the U.S market, this not only affects your project timeline but your team dynamic.

How are companies dealing with these issues? Many of them are turning to nearshoring.

Here are some of the reasons why nearshoring is becoming more common among tech companies, helping them stay ahead of the game: 

  1. Top quality.
  2. Outstanding human resources.
  3. No language barrier.
  4. Long-term retention.
  5. Same time zone.
  6. Similar culture.
  7. A team that is 100% dedicated to you.

“Just like an in-house team, a nearshore team is dedicated 100% to you, and if setup the right way it can absorb your company’s culture and goals. On the other hand, offshore teams will take more of your precious time and effort to bring them into alignment.” Andres Max, CEO at Ideaware

Colombia

When it comes to outsourcing/nearshoring there are many options on the table across the globe, each providing different benefits or concerns. If you are in the US, here is how you can benefit by nearshoring to Colombia instead of countries like India, China, Vietnam or Eastern Europe.

Located in the north of South America, Colombia has always been known for being a beautiful country with happy, hard working and authentic people. These are not the only things we are known for, in the last few years Colombia has been recognized as one of the best places to innovate and do business in Latin America thanks to the quality of our workforce. In 2019 the city of Medellín was recognized by Newsweek as the World’s Smartest City.

These are some of the reasons why nearshoring to Colombia is a great option:

  • Culture: Cultural differences can present a significant challenge to efficiency. According to Forbes Magazine, Latin american countries share a similar culture with the U.S due to their proximity, this aspect will allow you to feel like your dedicated team is a seamless extension of your company.
  • Working hours: Your nearshore team should work within your time zone. Colombia’s official time zone is the GMT−05:00, which is the same as EST time for most of the year. This means that you are going to be able to get an immediate response when you reach out to your team and you won’t have any obstacle with your workflow.
  • Cost savings: Potential savings of up to 60% of the costs from hiring a US-based team.
  • Proximity: Your team should be easy to get to in a few hours, when this happens you are able to visit more frequently, which will result in a stronger relationship and greater efficiency.
  • Skills: With a population of 49.65 million people, Colombia has a large presence of companies providing software and IT services and it is home to several universities with high academic standards and research, providing top tech talent.

How does Colombia compare to other countries?

While the hourly cost might be cheaper in some other countries, you will find that nearshoring to Colombia will require fewer hours to get the same job done, why? You don’t have time zone differences. Meaning, you can communicate with your team in real time, you don’t have to wait 12 or more hours to get an email reply, you can discuss with your team via Slack, Zoom or Email the stages of your project whenever you want and receive updates while the sun is still out. 

Let’s compare Colombia to other countries:

We’re close!

Do you want to be able to visit your team without having to spend more than 10 hours flying? With 13 International Airports, Colombia provides easy access and good international air connectivity:

  • Flight time from Miami to Barranquilla: 2h 40m
  • Flight time from New York to Medellín: 5h 40m
  • Flight time from LA to Bogotá: 7h 28m
  • Flight time from Austin to Medellín: 4 hours 53m
  • Flight time from Washington, DC to Bogotá: 5h 30m

Nearshoring to Colombia is a great option for an easy and transparent process. You will find yourself thanking the regular working hours, fluent conversations and the convenience of having your team a couple hours away by plane. Remember that choosing a country for their low rates doesn’t mean you are saving money or time.

At ideaware, our nearshore teams are no longer “developers-for-rent” by the hour. We are full time-dedicated individuals that you can consider as part of your own team.

We are always available to help you succeed by supporting you with world-class team augmentation services for software design and developers.

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Is your remote team happy and productive? Have you checked in with them recently? These are very ...

Is your remote team happy and productive? Have you checked in with them recently? These are very important questions to ask yourself every day.

Motivation and happiness is key for a productive day, specially in these trying times.

Our current world situation has dramatically shifted how we work, we all went abruptly from working in an office, face to face (most of the time at least) to working remotely. Even if it is the same city, we are all remote.

 

When working from the same office it is easier to check in, have small chat and quickly make decisions based on the ‘office vibe’, but that is no longer the case. How do we, as Founders/COOs/PMs deal with making sure our team is happy?

It goes way further than just having the right tools in place, it is about creating culture and a feeling of belonging. Here’s what we’ve learned and how, over the years we’ve managed to create a culture that extends beyond our office walls.

  1. Define expectations and ground rules/sops

Get started by defining the expectations of working remotely. Define hours where availability is expected, proper communication channels (both internal and client facing) and make available all processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the entire team. Take the guesswork out of how things work in your company and document everything, make it easily available. (Check out http://wikit.io, a tool we built exactly for this purpose).

  1. Onboarding is key

Make sure you onboard your new team members correctly. Explain how things work, who is who, where to find your SOPs and set expectations from day 1.

  1. Foster community via a platform

Communication platforms such as Slack not only provide a place to discuss work but also to engage with your team members. Your casual hallway and kitchen conversations are now channels on slack. Actively encourage conversation and different channels where not only work is discussed but also interests, news and even a bit of fun.

  1. Establish weekly fun activities

One of the drawbacks of going fully remote and digital is that we loose the human connection. Bridge that gap by creating weekly fun activities that your entire team can participate in. At Ideaware we do: weekly town halls (news, chat, bring your favorite drink), a weekly challenge/contest where you win a prize and an event called Homespace, where any team member can talk & teach about any subject they want. Conversations are great and team building is fostered.

  1. Share every single win

Publicly share every single win. From company news to a small win someone had. Share it, encourage your team to share good news and recognize achievement.

  1. Keep your team in the loop every single week

Being remote often feels like being out of touch with your team, specially leadership. Uncertain times also bring work related anxiety. Keep your team in the loop every week. Have a 30 minute call (we call them Town Halls at Ideaware, we get together every Friday at 5pm) and share what’s going on at the company. Good news, bad news, updates. Your team will appreciate staying in the loop and the transparency.

  1. Keep offering professional development opportunities

If possible, keep offering growth opportunities for your team. Your team works very hard for you and everyone wants to be rewarded for their effort with growth opportunities. Don’t take them off the table by being remote, in fact encourage it.

  1. Perks must go beyond the physical office space

Think about the perks you offer/offered while everyone was at the office. Some or most of them are related to the physical space. Think about ways you can bring new perks to your team that are more in line with our current reality. For example: did you offer food and snacks at the office kitchen? Get creative and send everyone their favorite snack on Fridays.

  1. Results matter, working hours do not

This is a tough one, because it is a huge mindset shift. When remote (honestly even at an office setting), sitting in a chair for 8 hours does not equal productivity. Hours don’t matter, results do. Expect your team to juggle home responsibilities while they work. Encourage results, let everyone figure out the best way they are most productive.

  1. Have less meetings

The first impulse as you go remote is to establish many meetings a day to “keep tabs on things”, I find meetings counter-productive. They break up your flow, you have to prepare for them, sit in them, then recover from them. Hours lost. Send a screencast instead, a slack message, a short email, most meetings can be avoided with a short, well written message. If you need them, there are also plenty of tools to get daily status updates on your team members.

  1. Help with home office spaces

If you are reducing your office space, no longer have an office or don’t plan to in the near future, divert your office budget to helping your team at home. At Ideaware we make sure everyone can request a desk, chair, new laptop, upgraded internet and anything they might need to get their best work done. Equipment and a comfortable ergonomic work station should not be taken for granted. Stay on top of it!

  1. Ask for feedback

The most important bit about having a successful remote team is asking for feedback. What can the company do better? How can you help? What struggles are you having? Learn, solve and adapt. This sends the right message and culture to your team. You will learn a lot and help your team be happy and focused.

A happy team is a focused team and a happy company

An essential component to a remote team is keeping everyone happy, connected and thus focused on the company & project goals.

Always keep in mind you should:

  • Trust your team to do their best work
  • Autonomy to decide how/when to get their best work done
  • Outcomes over time tracking

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"A black box that does magic tricks " . Maybe that's the idea that many of us have about machine learning,...

“A black box that does magic tricks 🦄” . Maybe that’s the idea that many of us have about machine learning, especially if we have never had an approach to artificial intelligence. But the reality is that artificial intelligence is becoming more and more relevant in almost every branch of engineering and development, including the web.

But not everything has to be rocket science, right? So let’s take a look at some scenarios where machine learning could take our web applications to the next level 😉

Let’s analyze the data!

This is one of the machine learning applications that comes to mind most quickly: taking the large amount of data we collect and using specialized algorithms to discover patterns or inconsistencies. This analysis of the information can be used to make changes almost in real-time.

It’s time to understand user behavior! 👀

Your web application can use machine learning to accurately understand user behavior. For example, an e-commerce website can apply ML algorithms to monitor and understand a user’s affinity with a product or category. It could even predict expected user actions based on search history and interaction within the results page. Better results and more accurate recommendations can mean more sales and more time the user spends on the website.

Did you know that by using machine learning you could optimize your response times? That’s what the page forecasting model is all about: predicting the next page the user will visit using historical data from Google Analytics. Through this prediction, you can apply techniques to navigate faster. 

Where is my 21st-century user experience? ⏳🔊🖖

Web technologies in the 21st century have already evolved to an impressive level. There are already several APIs based on artificial intelligence within browsers* that enable alternative and adaptive experiences. 

One example of these technologies is the Web Speech API:

“The Web Speech API adds voice recognition (speech to text) and speech synthesis (text to speech) to JavaScript.” -Eric Bidelman (Web apps that talk – Introduction to the Speech Synthesis API)

You can create applications that are voice-driven or that integrate voice recognition into forms or search boxes as Google or YouTube do.

The Google search box has integrated speech recognition provided by the browser.

Please note that several of these technologies are not fully supported by browsers. For example, Safari supports Speech Synthesis but does not support Speech Recognition.

But wait… audio isn’t everything. The camera can also be used to play/experiment with the user using ml5.js: “machine learning for the web in your web browser”. Through ml5.js we can use a variety of models. For example, PoseNet or Handpose, for real-time pose estimation (let’s play using our body!). The Coding Train has an introductory video that I recommend: ml5.js Pose Estimation with PoseNet.

Handpose in action ✊✋

Artificial intelligence is an exponentially growing trend. Every day we see it more and more in web development. Let’s take advantage of machine learning to make our application an unforgettable experience. Happy hacking!

Thank you for reading and do not forget to share and subscribe to our newsletter below. If you have any questions about our processes, we are here for you. Contact us!

 

The world has changed and we have evolved with it. Now that our team is working remotely...

The world has changed and we have evolved with it. Now that our team is working remotely, finding a way to successfully integrate your new hires into your team is our top priority. We strongly believe a thriving onboarding process is essential to guarantee high retention.

Our team makes sure you do not have to worry about culture/onboarding anymore. We take care of everything while you spend more time working on your project goals.

As you know, we went fully remote during these crucial times and we found a way to set our remote onboarding process up for success. Do you want to know our secret?

A collaborative process.

The days where HR was fully responsible for the onboarding are over. Now, we all are an essential part of it since social interaction has become key to facilitate the adaptation process of our new members. Our goal is to integrate your new members into their positions, remote team, and our warm and friendly culture as quickly as possible, making them feel at the office even though they are working from home.

Onboarding remote team members successfully 

The sooner new team members feel part of your project, the better their performance will be in it. Let’s take a look into this process:

Getting ready

It is important to start setting new team members before their first day. We understand that starting a remote position could be challenging and we want them to be already familiar with the team and processes, this will help them feel ready and relaxed on their first day. 

We start with a video call with the new hire and our management team, this way we can introduce ourselves and they will know exactly who to talk to. We make a summary of who we are, our mission and vision, culture, and perks, provide them with a company email, and arrange the delivery of a new desk, chair, computer, and a welcome package to their house. We also tell them about our weekly activities and events that will help them establish a relationship with their coworkers and feel welcomed.

The first day

The day we were waiting for is finally here! The most important thing is to integrate the new hire(s) into our team. Via Slack, the app we use for internal communication, we share a picture of them, their role, and a welcome message that all team members have access to.

Then, they are introduced to the members of your project via Zoom. During the call, everyone has their cameras on as seeing people’s faces builds a great social connection. Your team introduces themselves, talks about the project, and gives the new member a product roadmap and the information needed to start achieving outstanding goals.

2-weeks check-in

After giving the new hire time to get used to the role, our HR team schedules a meeting 2 weeks after the start date. During this follow-up, we want to make sure that they are doing ok, that they have all they need, how they are getting along with the team, and if they feel happy and comfortable. We want them to know we are here to support them to achieve their goals.

Culture as the main ingredient

The happiness and success of our team is also a top priority. During the last year, we have worked hard creating a remote culture that makes everyone feel welcomed and included. 

To make this happen we host weekly events such as Coffee Breaks, Homespaces, Town Halls, and team challenges; these events are the roadway to virtually connect with our team and create an environment where we all feel safe to share our ideas, knowledge, and just have fun. We understand the importance of having a good work/well-being balance, therefore, we use this time to disconnect, relax, have fun, and share a few laughs with our coworkers. It is healthy!

Virtually meeting your colleagues and getting to know their faces creates a feeling of friendship and closeness, which is incredibly important for the success of the onboarding process and your project.

Experiences of our newest team members

“My onboarding process was great, keeping in mind that it was remote because of the pandemic. I had the zoom calls needed to meet all the Ideaware’s management team and the team I was going to be part of; they were all very helpful in explaining to me their roles. Getting all the proper documents and forms signed online was something I particularly liked because I received a copy of the documents right away in my email. I found it very innovative. Ideaware also gave me a new computer to work with and they delivered it to my house. They were amazing with the communication and letting me know they were here for me in every step of the way.” – Silvana N.

“The onboarding process has been so good! From the beginning, Ideaware and my team were very clear with the tasks that I was going to develop. Also, I have felt very well received by the company. I feel that I have been given the proper treatment as a worker, which generates a sense of belonging to the company.” – Esteban E.

Collaborative onboarding has been the key to successfully integrate your new hires into our team. Even if they are 600 miles away in another city, we are all part of this process. The best part is that we take care of everything, so you have more time to spend working on achieving your goals.

Thank you for reading and do not forget to share and subscribe to our newsletter below. If you have any questions about our processes, we are here for you. Contact us!

 

What a year it’s been for everyone. Things were going smoothly until March and then everything changed...

What a year it’s been for everyone. Things were going smoothly until March and then everything changed. Covid-19 hit us and we were forced to change absolutely everything about how we live and work. We had to learn new ways to cope, stay safe, and take care of our mental health.

And yet, as the world came to a crawl, we started adapting, and as an industry, we found a new rhythm.

Our remote work timeline went from 2 years to 2 weeks

We had a vision, and a timeline to shift Ideaware to a 100% remote company by 2022. We had just started drafting plans when, well, you know what happened.

Sending everyone home to work, making sure they had everything they need to be productive, and coming up with processes was no easy task. For the first few weeks of our lockdown in Colombia, we were hard at work adapting.

We realized that our remote Fridays were a whole different ball game than remote work lockdown.

Eventually, we figured things out. And so did our customers.

I’m happy to say things are positively moving forward for our team and our customers, we’re now making plans to never require anyone to work at our HQ for 8 hours a day again.

Remote is here to stay for us. Most of our customers are not only also working remotely but many were already distributed before the pandemic, so this has made the transition easier for everyone.

With hard work, we’ve adapted

Most of us in the industry were already seeing remote as the future of work, but now that future is here. We’ve established new processes and new perks for the team to adjust to this new world.

We also now help every single team member (new or old) set up their home office. Ideaware provides desks, equipment, and subsidized internet for everyone.

Clients and team members

We are saddened by the global tragedy this year, we are also very grateful that 2020 has been a year of growth for us.

Since April, we’ve signed on 9 new clients whom we are currently building their software teams here in Colombia. We’re now hiring all over the country and this has made our expansion easier.

26 team members have joined us since April, and we’re very excited to have every one of you on board, keep rockin’.

Making our clients successful is our top priority, this year we’ve helped our customers make over USD 50M in revenue. That is huge for us, and for them.

Activities and team bonding

Along with our new processes and perks, we also had to move all of our learning and team bonding activities online. We’ve come up with:

Homespace

A place where anyone on the team can teach all of us anything they want (whether it’s industry-related or not).

Town halls

We get the entire team on a call and share company news, policies, and exchange a laugh or two.
We’ve also got together for some fun bonding activities:

Mario Kart Tournament

Friendship Day: Homemade Bread and Coffee

Halloween Cocktail Party

Santa’s Baking Workshop

2020 – a year of learning, change, and growth

Change is inevitable and this year takes the prize. We are grateful for all the opportunities that we’ve had this year, and especially very, very grateful to our old, current, and new clients (who we really consider partners) for trusting us. We trust you too and here’s to many years of partnership.

To our team – thank you. Thank you, and thank you again. This year has not been easy on you or your families. But we’ve stayed together, we’ve learned and now we’ve grown together.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

Paulo Coelho

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