Productivity Tips for Developers 💡
Being productive is coding quickly & efficiently without sacrificing quality. And this folks... sounds much easier than it really is! Developing this high-quality code can be quite challenging. Sometimes lines of code don’t come easy, you feel anxious & unable to concentrate. This can be exhausting & mentally stressful. 🤯 Devs constantly work with complex algorithms & combine multiple tasks. 👉 That's why adopting a healthy work ethic & making minor adjustments will lead to lasting changes & an increase in productivity. Understanding how you can focus on your work, use the best tools & deal with distractions can help you a lot in making the most out of your working hours. 💪 In this article, you can find our best productivity tips for developers. Boosting your productivity without compromising on work-life balance. 1. Look for the best code editor Developer productivity starts with a good source code editor. There are many great options in the market, depending on your goals and needs. Our advice is to try out different code editors to see which one fits best with your workflow. It's important to take into consideration which programming language(s) you are using. You need a code editor that offers syntax highlighting for the languages you need. Some don't only have syntax highlighters for programming languages, they also have them for well-known technologies such as React. 💡 How we used React, Gatsby, and Prismic to create a high-end and well-polished website If you want to use your own code snippets and/or keyboard shortcuts, it’s also a good idea to pick a code editor that lets you add or import them. And if you commit your work to a code-sharing platform, such as GitHub, you might find built-in Git functionality useful. At Nightborn, we love to work with Visual Studio Code, because it lets you directly commit your work to GitHub without leaving the editor. Visual Studio Code is Microsoft’s cross-platform source code editor that runs on all major operating systems. It has an easy-to-use marketplace and a nice extension ecosystem with built-in Git integration & debugger, it's highly customizable and has free & open-source. 2. Use the right platforms & tools It's becoming increasingly important to be familiar with various tools & platforms to speed up your work and maximize productivity & efficiency. We're super team-minded. To do so, we use team collaboration or project management tools. Again, there're a lot of different tools available to choose from, such as Monday.com, Microsoft Teams, Slack & ClickUp to give some examples. At Nightborn, we use the last two because it enables us to talk directly with the team & the clients. This way, our team will receive immediate feedback, making it must easier to meet expectations. 💡 We use Slack because it organizes conversations into channels, where everyone can come together in one place to share ideas, make decisions and move work forward. It helps our team to operate faster & stay in sync, wherever they are. 💡 We use ClickUp because it allows you to communicate directly without going to your email app, managing your work in one place. You can add attachments to various tasks & tag your team members to keep the communication flowing. 💡 Additionally, our devs use GitHub as their code management tool. GitHub is an online software development platform used for storing, tracking, and collaborating on software projects. It enables developers to upload their own code files & to collaborate with fellow developers on open-source projects. 👉 Nightborn on GitHub 3. Planning is key We give our employees flexible working hours, or they can choose to work from home now & then. If you don't believe us, then check out this Reel on Instagram 👉 Work starts at 9 AM! ⏰ Let’s see at what time the team gets here… 🤔 😉 Of course, this can be felt as very pleasant. But it comes with its own set of challenges. It can be difficult to focus, especially if other family members or distractions are present during your working hours. You have to find your most productive hours & decide when to start and finish your workday. Be consistent! To stay organized, you need to set some rules & have a productivity plan that will allow you to get the best out of your day. Scheduling daily tasks with realistic goals will measure your progress & manage your time effectively. The best results always come with proper planning. You can either create task lists or set up workflows with an app such as ClickUp. This will definitely help you maintain a healthy work-life balance & allow you to have more time for personal activities. 🧘♀️ 4. Start your day with the most challenging task To continue with the previous statement, it's super important to prioritize your most critical task first thing in the morning (or whenever you start your workday), when your energy is at its highest. Procrastination is a common habit of developers (It's true, you know it! 😉), especially, if you work as a freelancer & have to manage your own deadlines. It's easy to get lost in daily tasks and it frequently happens that you work all day and by the end of the day, you realize that you have barely accomplished anything (sounds familiar? 🙈). You can avoid that if, rather than multitasking, you create a hierarchy of daily tasks. Although multitasking had been seen as a positive thing for many years, it turned out that it’s not suitable for most people. Research has shown that a very low part of the population is good at it, while the rest can suffer a high loss of productivity. So, if you are 1 of the lucky ones, then keep going on with multitasking, otherwise prioritize your tasks, and focus only on one thing at the same time. 🤷♂️ 5. Take breaks! Now we're talking! 😎 Humans can’t concentrate on the same thing for an unlimited amount of time without their minds wandering off to something else, especially if it's hard mental work such as programming. That's why taking breaks throughout the day leads to higher productivity, creativity & focus. It reduces stress & improves your overall well-being. You know, working 9 to life ❤️. There’s no golden rule here, you’ll need to experiment a bit to find out what works best for you. It’s also not worth following very strict rules. Because, if you are in the zone, don’t interrupt your work just because it's the time for a break. However, there’s one important thing to remember. The break has to be a real break! Checking emails, Slack notifications, social media, blogs (if you're doing this right now, please keep reading 🙏. It will help you, later on 😉), or just staring at any kind of screen won’t matter as a break for your brain. Stand up, get a coffee, walk around, and talk with your friends or colleagues that are on a break too. When you return to your work mentally & physically refreshed, you can stay focused longer & do better work. At Nightborn we know a thing or two on how to take breaks 🙃. We play a game of table football "Kicker" or Mario Kart on the Playstation to ease our minds. 👉 Our office is not your average office 😎 Finally, when you're at home, don’t forget the good old eating (breakfast!) & sleeping right, staying physically active & making time to socialize. 6. Automate repetitive tasks Automating repetitive, time-consuming & monotonous tasks will save you hours of coding and will simplify your job in a way that significantly improves productivity. It’s not a coincidence that DevOps (the intersection of Development and Operations) is all the rage recently, as it’s all about automation. Making your code ready for production involves a lot of repetitive tasks. For instance, as a frontend developer, you can use a task runner to automatically perform routine tasks on your code, such as minification, image optimization, auto-prefixing & more. 💡 What is a front-end developer, and what has he got to offer? 7. Keep your code clean & short Figuring out what you did months ago & how it needs to be fixed is the worst thing there is. When you have massive methods & classes, it can be very difficult to figure out what the original logic was. Variable, method, and class names are vital to understanding code. Making code blocks smaller allows you to make more meaningful names. 🧠 Our brains can’t hold the complex logic of a giant-line method which often results in hard-to-spot bugs. 8. Eliminate distractions A focused developer is a productive developer. This means getting complex tasks done with minimal distractions or interruptions. Because distractions are the biggest enemy of productivity. It takes only a few seconds to get out of your flow, but you'll need minutes to get back on track after an interruption. That is why learning to deal with distraction and decide what is essential & what's not is a must for every developer. ☝️ Your typical distractions could be browsing social media, phone calls, loud music, or being in a busy office. But some distractions can be tricky, it’s not always easy to see them. For instance, constantly checking your email, watching video tutorials on YouTube, or chatting with colleagues on Slack can be seen as work-related tasks, but if you are spending too much time on them, you might find that you haven’t accomplished that much by the end of the day. You have to take precautions wherever you can. 👉 Check your emails only a few times a day 👉 Switch off Slack notifications while working 👉 Put your phone in silent mode 👉 Turn off social media notifications 👉 Turn off email pop-ups 👉 And learn to say NO All these changes will not only increase your productivity but will also prevent you from getting mentally exhausted. There are plenty of distraction-canceling software tools on the market today to help you stay focused throughout the day. For example, you have RescueTime, Dewo, Freedom, etc... It is up to you to decide whether this is necessary or not. See for yourself if you can find a system in this. And know, this isn't always easy. Because we work closely with our clients & want to be available at all times for questions, comments, or feedback. 9. Keep learning If you want to stay productive, you must constantly update your skills. As you gain more experience & expand your knowledge, you become a better problem solver, faster & more efficient. Invest in yourself & your knowledge. 🧙♂️ Read books & blogs or listen to podcasts or audiobooks while exercising, cooking, or cleaning. There're plenty of options available to keep yourself up to date in the fast-moving world of programming & development. And don't forget, never stop learning from other people’s mistakes & successes! Those who are new to the craft can avoid most mistakes that others have already made & learned from. An excellent way for professional growth is to work on hobby projects or participate in the development of open-source projects. 💡 At Nightborn, we let our employees work on their own projects on Tuesday evenings. This learns them many new tricks, keep their mind fresh & grow as programmers. Now it's up to you! There is no 'super formula' to time management & productivity. Everyone has a unique personality & working style. What works for one developer could be a total failure for another. Remember that experimentation is the key thing to productivity. If you try out a technique or tool that doesn’t work for you, ditch it, and move on to the next one, until you find the one that best fits you. Hopefully, this article will spur you to find an approach that will help you boost your productivity & efficiency!
What's a Design System and why is it so important?
Design systems can be found everywhere and in almost everything. They're in your smartphone's operating system, your work's laptop, and even on the websites you visit. Big brands and design agencies aren't the only ones who use design systems. A design system can help you improve the quality of your work, designs, and products whether you're a freelance designer or a small business. But what exactly is a design system? What goes into the creation of a design system? Why would you want to use them? 👉 In this blog, we'll answer these questions and explain why we use Figma at Nightborn What's a design system? In general, it’s mainly a framework for creating standard guidelines for a particular project or product. However, design systems are not just about style guides, UI kits, and component libraries. They are a mix of these and more. It includes code snippets and development resources, documentation, page screenshots, image examples, design guidelines, relevant tools, documents and articles, style guides, reusable components, and all other digital assets useful for the overall web design workflow. A design system can be thought of as a large data library that serves as a valuable document with essential instructions and examples. The foundation & the assets. We can divide it into two main categories: the foundation and the assets. The foundation is a library containing all the main appearances of your application: In this group, we can find the colors, typography, grids, spacings, and visuals such as icons, illustrations, and logos. With some additional rules such as borders, rounded corners, shadows, textures, elevations, and depths. At Nightborn, this part of the design system is set in Figma's Styles, where a library of all these rules is created. The assets are the building blocks useful for our design. This becomes the UI library, or pattern library, where we create new reusable components that help create and manage consistent designs across projects. We can divide them into: Elements: basics such as buttons and icons Components: modules. i.e. an assembly of more elements, such as a search form Regions: zones or organisms, a larger area of the UI, for example, left-hand navigation Layouts: the web page and how it is structured Different types of design systems The word “design” in the design system refers to the overall process that goes into graphic and web designs, but also refers to product design and user experience design. A design system can be applied in a variety of ways. They may be used to create consistent user experiences, branded products, scalable apps, and much more. As a result, you’ll come across a few different types of design systems. We'll go over the three most common design systems in use today. Product design systems: A framework for creating a product that gives you a complete set of components for building apps. Brand design systems: Used to create guidelines for designs being made by businesses. It includes multiple sub-categories like identity design, visual design, style guides, and more. User Experience (UX) Design Systems: It’s important to use design systems to create user experiences that generate results. i.e. creating funnels to generate leads from website visitors to turn them into customers. Why do you need a design system? Create consistent guidelines and components that you can reuse to develop more consistent visual designs and products. Provide better user experiences (UX) across platforms: Allowing to keep consistency across any number of app or product designs. If you're using a mobile app and find a very different and confusing user experience on the desktop version of the same app. Then this is a strong indication of a lack of a design system. A design system allows you to keep consistency across any number of app or product designs. Which leads to more improved user experiences across platforms. 💡 Want to read more about cross-platform development? 👉How cross-platform development improves client satisfaction Make easily scalable products: Products keep evolving and shifting focus. This is especially true with today's startups. Along with these changes, your designs and user experiences will most likely alter as well. A design system enables you to scale and adapt your products while keeping them consistent. Improve efficiency: It will save a huge amount of time and effort that goes into product development. And in turn, make your teams more efficient and productive. It’s important to note that having a pattern library or a collection of codes and UI elements only shouldn’t be treated as a finished design system. There’s a lot more to a comprehensive design system in terms of design fundamentals, building your own design system as well as overall implementation. How to create a design system in 5 steps? Step 1: Conduct a design audit: Browse through all your current designs that have been made, whether it's the design of an app, a website, or some other digital product. Then group them into different categories such as navigation, drop-downs, headers, etc. Step 2: Define a list of basic design elements: If you lack consistency in structure, colors, spaces, patterns, icons, etc. Because the visual design language is the core of a design system and is made up of four main categories, and you should consider the role that each of these design elements plays in every component on the screen. Common colors in a design system include 1 to 3 primaries that represent your brand. But to give your designers more alternatives, you may include a spectrum of tints, a color blended with white, and shades, a color mixed with black. Typography: Most design systems include just 2 fonts: 1 font for both headings and body, and a monospace font for code. Try to keep it simple and keep the number of fonts low to avoid overloading and confusing your user. The system you use for spacing and sizing looks best when you have rhythm and balance. The key to success with graphics in your visual design language is having a plan and sticking to it. Step 3: Define design components: Unlike the visual audit you’ve already conducted, this step in the process looks at the actual components of your UI. It consists of functional pieces of a user interface created from the basic tokens that come together in various ways to form a composition. Once you have created new components, you simply add them to your design system and define when and how to use them. The better you can explain the component, the fewer questions you have to solve later. Step 4: Define pages: Once you’ve defined the components of your product, you can combine them to create pages. Step 5: Run a sprint retrospective: Analyze progress and make necessary improvements. Sprints can be a great way to ensure quick learning across the entire team. 🎨 The visual on Instagram Why Nightborn uses Figma Figma is a design tool built and thought precisely for designers – UI and UX. It has many features for the design system: Real-time collaboration: it works perfectly for creating a cohesive and stable design system within the organization. It's cross-platform: it can work across multiple types of platforms or operating environments The design is accessible to anyone: designers, front-end developers, product managers,... Built-in analytics: Understand library usage and measure the impact of design Aligned with code: Create responsive components that map closer to code, making developer handoff more seamless. Automated process: All Figma’s styles will be variables in a stylesheet (CSS or SCSS) 🎨 The visual on Instagram 💡 Want to learn more about how design can benefit your business? We covered it in one of our previous blogs. Check it out here 👉Using design improves your business performance Final words A design system is not something that you create and forget about. It needs to be constantly improved alongside your product development. Every designer, every agency, and every company should have their design systems. It’s an investment you make that keeps you in control and maintains quality. Many companies are turning to design systems for the benefits of code reusability, design efficiency, and UI/UX consistency.
Web App 🆚 Website, what's the difference?
We spoke with Thibault Vanhaelen, COO & Co-Founder of Foodiz
Meet Thibault Vanhaelen, COO & Co-Founder of Foodiz, the start-up that's committed to reinventing (corporate) catering with a digital, healthy & sustainable approach to make every office a welcoming space where staff members have quick & easy access to delicious lunches. The Foodiz website describes Thibault's role as follows: "Thibault's experience and his passion for numbers give us a strategic vision and goals to achieve. A great lover of good food, he wants to make Foodiz accessible to as many people as possible." 👌 With a Master’s Degree in Business Engineering & specialization in Finance & Managing Start-Ups, he has to be the perfect fit for the job. 🤷♂️😎 Since he & Foodiz have been clients of ours from the start, we felt it would be interesting to meet and discuss the ins & outs within Foodiz and the collaboration with Nightborn. 💡 You can find more details about Thibault's qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on his 👉LinkedIn profile👈. We met on a sunny Thursday morning in the offices of Greenbizz Brussels for a nice chat. Here's how it went... Hi Thibault, nice to meet you! We've already introduced you, but can you tell us a bit about your journey so far? Good morning, nice to meet you too! Well, before Foodiz I worked for Burger Brands Belgium, one of the business units & operating divisions of Kharis Capital. Kharis Capital is a private equity firm whose main focus is on fast-food restaurants. They're the leading European Quick Servic Restaurant Operator who launched their own platform, called QSRP. They have a diversified portfolio of strong brands in the quick-service restaurant industry, including Burger King, Quick, O’Tacos, and NORDSEE. They also invested in Not So Dark, a "Dark Kitchen" B2C concept. What was super nice with Kharis Capital is that they were both invested in the food sector & the digital sector. Which was super interesting for me. I worked there for more than 2,5 years until I had a conversation with Quentin. 💡 Quentin is CEO & Co-founder of Foodiz, a real entrepreneur 👉 Quentin's LinkedIn Profile I wanted to change this mindset & offer more healthy, quality & local products to people. We talked about having a positive impact on food, delivered directly to the office. The idea was to mix the healthy food & digital aspect. Which was the perfect combination for me. So, that's how it went. After this, we decided to develop this concept together & I joined Quentin in his journey. What gave Quentin the idea in the first place? He was working for a company, as a consultant. This company also delivered food & also tried to reinvent the corporate canteen. But they didn't want to do this with a digital approach. In their opinion, they had to be physically present. He obviously didn't agree and decided to go his own way & started Foodiz. Please tell us, what is Foodiz & what does it stand for? We launched Foodiz in January 2020 with the idea to reinvent "food at work". We wanted to provide quality & sustainable food to companies. From the choice of our ingredients to our delivery system. To prepare our healthy & varied meals, we only use fresh quality products and love to work with local producers as much as possible. We have completely eliminated single-use packaging, meaning it's recyclable or reusable. In our kitchen, we use solar panels to generate electricity, and to clean the dirty dishes we also reuse the rainwater. 👊 How do you divide the tasks between Quentin & yourself? Quentin is mainly focused on the sales & PR aspect of the business while I'm in charge of the IT, financial & operational aspects. Given my experience in the sector... Quentin has a big network & lots of contacts. For example, we had an interview on RTBF which gave us really amazing visibility. We had so much reaction to it. It was really a big deal for us! 🎥 Check it out (in French) 👉 RTBF Interview How does Foodiz distinguish itself from the competition? In contrast to some big companies such as Uber Eats or Deliveroo, we wanted to launch a new digital concept & digitize the canteen at work, our "Dark Kitchen" concept. We create our own virtual restaurants instead of working with traditional restaurants. This gives us, as a food-providing company, full control over the quality of the dishes. Everything we provide is produced with different cooking styles in our own Greenbizz kitchen in Brussels. Meaning we have no seating capacity for in-house diners or walk-ins. We start preparing the food once the orders come in & deliver it at the workplace (or at home). Since we don't work with traditional restaurants or physical canteens it doesn't matter how many employees from each company order lunch. Due to the number of nearby companies, we can even deliver lunch to a single employee. This enhances our sustainable approach & ecological solution. Unlike the big companies that use hundreds of employees to deliver single dishes from restaurants to customers, we have one driver who delivers all the orders for four or five companies in the same area. 👌 So, only employees of companies can order? Yes, in terms of strategy, we have a B2B strategy for the moment. In the long-term, we can maybe add the B2B2C strategy to our approach. Because, the business is our client, but the employee is the one who uses our app & orders the food. So in addition to providing a healthy lunch, employees may also be able to do their grocery shopping or eat take-away meals at home, and so on. But okay, that's a long-term strategy! First things first, let us start with perfecting the B2B concept first 😉 This probably sounds easier than it actually is 🙈. Because, you have to change the mindset of employees with this digital approach, especially in big companies. Usually, they order the old-school way... Where there's 1 person who writes everything down on a piece of paper & does the phone call. It's all about habits. 🤷♂️ Yes, exactly. But we try to make it as easy as possible for our customers! Employees can pay with their Bancontact app as well as with their meal vouchers, such as Edenred, Sodexo or Monizze. And... Thanks to COVID, these habits are changing fast. Everything's going digital. You’re not the first client of Nightborn who told me this. This brings us to COVID-19 (I know... Again 😢). Foodiz launched in January 2020, but in March 2020 we had the start of the Corona crisis. How did you cope with this? Honestly, it was a big mess! Our concept is based on delivering food directly to the office, but everyone was working from home 🤷♂️. We had to be very flexible & reinvent ourselves. This being said, the first step we took was to contact all of our clients and just ask them "What can we do for you? How can we help you?" And we got a response right away! They asked us if we could deliver directly to the home of the employees. We agreed & developed a new offer. this meant that we had to look for a new logistic partner and started working with KGS Group. They helped us to set a fixed price wherever we wanted to deliver in Belgium. It didn't matter where you ordered, from the Ardennes to Antwerp or Brussels. It was exactly the same price. This was actually super nice & easy. Sounds good! So, the first idea was to focus on the region of Brussels. But now you could actually cover a larger part of Belgium? Indeed, we called it “Team Food” because we wanted to reconnect the teams & colleagues at home. While employees were having meetings through Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams they could reconnect through the food at the same time. Meanwhile, we kept our high standards. We delivered depending on the number of orders... If less than 50 people ordered before 11 am, we delivered everywhere in Belgium on the same day. Why? Because we always strive to work with high-quality & fresh products. If we received a really big order then we delivered the day after, assuring ourselves of the quality & to be sure that everyone could enjoy their lunchtime together as a team. This was actually a success! Many companies were super happy because we were reconnecting their teams. Since then more & more clients contacted us through word of mouth. It was pretty amazing. 😍 It must have been a really crazy & busy period. You had to adapt super fast. Yes. But, we're still reaping the benefits of it. When the corona crisis ended in December or January of this year all these companies stayed with us & asked us to offer "Team Food" at their meetings or events on-site. So, again we just adapted our "Team Food" services & started the catering service that suits all business moments. We also kept the "deliver at home" service. Because, since corona, people still work a lot more from home. Some companies even changed their policies to an arrangement that their company closes on certain days, obliging their employees to work from home for 1 or 2 days a week. That's why we still offer a series of boxes delivered throughout Belgium to employees' homes. We call it "Boxes Delivery", our third service 😇. This hybrid model where we can switch our services is what separates us from the competition. Physical canteens are closing one by one because they can't manage the low presence on site. While we don't have a kitchen or people in physical canteens to manage everything. Making it super easy for us. It's really a shift in culture. How did you adapt so quickly? How does such a process work? Well, that's where Nightborn came in. Because the development of the web- & mobile app aren't in-house products. We developed it together with them & worked a lot on the MVP. 💡 Why you should consider an MVP and how to create an effective one? 🤔 But, thanks to these hard times (COVID-19) we directly started adapting a lot of things. We had time to work on specific development aspects of the app and make sure that it was exactly what we wanted. As for the process & method, we worked with sprints. We would do & try certain things for let's say 6 weeks and evaluate. The first scope... Then, after validation, we started another one and do the same. Fast forward to today, how is Foodiz doing now? At this moment, I think we're the market leader in Brussels on the digital cantine, Dark Kitchen & B2B concept. We're growing the turnover each year. In 2020, during COVID we did around 350k, last year we reached around 650k & this year we will exceed 1 million. Not bad in my opinion! Wow! So you already have some big clients then? Yes, we work with Proximus, Deloitte, PwC, AG insurance, Danone, Keyence, Brussels Airlines, etc... They can come up with some big orders sometimes. One of these clients for example ordered more than 1700 Lunches in 2 days... That was tough, but we managed it 😎🙌. How many clients or digital canteens do you have? We have more than 70 digital canteens in total. But, I would say we have between 20 & 25 really active digital canteens, ordering each day around 10, 15 & 20. The goal is to achieve 100 digital canteens by the end of this year. How many digital restaurants & brands do you have right now? We have 10 restaurants, but we're developing a lot. All the dishes in each restaurant change according to the seasonal products and so on... We adapt it like a carousel. This probably means that Foodiz has to grow along in terms of employees? Indeed. For the moment, we have 5 full-time employees in the kitchen. 1 account manager & 4 people in UPS (packaging). And Quentin & myself of course 😊. We also work a lot with freelancers & students. Do you have many competitors? Our main competitor in Brussels was Frichti, but they sold the company to Gorillas a couple of months ago & decided to close the Belgian Market. 💡 Gorillas is a German B2C company that delivers groceries to people's homes. They have a "Dark Store" concept on which users can order items through an app at the same supermarket prices. So, that's not bad! How do you look ahead to the future? By 2023 we want to be the market leader in Belgium. If we manage this, we would like to develop the international aspect. 💪 I think there's room in the international market for our concept. But how we would approach this, we're not yet sure. Through a franchise model or go on the market ourselves, using different branches. The challenge would be to offer the same quality & ecological values abroad. But I think that our product, our digital app, is the main property & added value we can sell. That's also why we invest so much in Nightborn. In this case, the franchisee can name his company whatever he wants. He would have to take care of all the logistics, the marketing, the digital restaurants, etc... We just give him/her a playbook to build everything based on what we've launched here. Next, we could give the franchisee the option to sell food through his own dark restaurants & brands or use our brands to sell his food. Sounds like a good business model to me & nice to hear that you will continue to invest in Nightborn 😇. How did you actually end up with us? Through Startup Factory.. They always help young startups to get in contact with other startups. In our case, they actually invested money in Foodiz. Meaning they really believe in our concept, the management & they are closely involved. Which is great! And what about now? Are you still happy with the collaboration? 🙏 To be honest, they're just amazing. We can define our partnership as "super friendly". We discuss with each other all the time. They challenge us & we challenge them. Always in a good atmosphere! Nightborn has some really talented people within the team. (👉 The team 😎) and they're always flexible & available. The client is always king! When they like & accept a project, they'll give everything they can. Personally, I think that's really the best quality of them. So yeah, we're super happy with them. I can say right now that we'll never change & stick with them because they're doing an awesome job. Just to give you an example: They did all the rebranding of our restaurants, for free! It took more than a month... That's just amazing! So, as compensation, we give them a 50% discount promo code on our food & gave them a new client. So you can say it's a win-win partnership! 😍 Nightborn being really accessible is something we hear a lot in these interviews 😊 Exactly, I'm always in contact with Tahir for example. You can go on Slack or call him at 2 am, he will always respond & start working/developing. It's crazy 🤯. This kind of service is extremely important to us because the digital IT & programming part is the most complicated and by far our main product. We don"t always understand everything they do because it's so complicated, but they make it look so easy. They will explain very clearly how things work & take the time to develop the scope together. Sometimes we want to do certain things, but they point out the challenges & difficulties. How much time it will take, how we can improve the UX/UI, how we can optimize the back-office, and so on... 💡 To get into detail about what Nightborn exactly did (and is doing) for Foodiz, check out the 👉 case study 👈 I think that's their main strength. The fact that they can make the design but also the integration. This means you always have a match between the design & the development. They start with the design and idea & integrate the code based on that. I'm out of questions... Is there still something you would like to say to Nightborn? Yes, I just want to say "stay as you are, keep it like this & keep pushing!" Because you'll just keep making amazing stuff. And of course, I hope Nightborn stays focused on Foodiz because we have plenty of things to do. 😇 We're just at the beginning of the app, our digital approach. I think we can do amazing things together. We're at 10% or 15% of our capability. We still have 85% to go! I know they grow very fast, but I advise them not to get too big or get too many customers. I'm sure there's still plenty of things to do with their current clients, with us... I will do everything to make sure that there's always a budget for them. 😉 Let's grow together! Nice words & thank you for your time! Want to learn more about Foodiz? Check out their 👉 Website 👉 LinkedIn 👉 Instagram
We had a talk with Pauline Barbier, CEO of Blooming Riders
Who is Pauline Barbier? Well, she founded Blooming Riders, the first platform dedicated to horse video lessons. On the platform, subscripted members have unlimited access to different themes of video courses, such as the education, training, and daily management of horses. The Blooming Riders team is made up of many professionals in the equestrian sector, each with a well-defined specialty. They provide hundreds of hours of video lessons to help you progress and give you the possibility of having video coaching at a distance. 🐴 Tell us about yourself & your journey before Blooming Riders, please. I actually used to study 'Lobbying & Political communication' (at Université libre de Bruxelles. ULB), to work in European affairs. I wanted to be a lobbyist in the environmental area. I wanted to defend the animals & that sort of thing. But I tried it for 6 months, working for different NGOs… And I hated it! I don't like the way European affairs works, it’s really slow & not modern. And... I wasn't going to work in an office my entire life. So, that's why I decided to change. In addition, I’ve always been passionate about horses since I was like 4 years old. You have to be really passionate, otherwise, you don't make that kind of switch... Yes, it’s really an old passion. And actually, when I was working as a lobbyist, I was training people & horses on the side, as a hobby, because I had the skills to help people. I was like “Yeah, I’m going to do that! I’m going to launch my own company/startup & we’ll see." I started the project in September 2017 with startup incubator BeStarter, now called Skillsfactory, where I did a 6-week program on how to launch your own company, and what is required... To learn tips & tricks, learn how to give a pitch, etc. So, I did it & I loved it. The company officially opened in March 2018. What sparked your idea to create a concept like Blooming Riders? Because it’s more than videos of horse riding… Absolutely! I had some experience myself with several platforms in the US that existed for about 10 years. They were really old-school platforms, but those platforms really helped me as a rider, to manage my horse & to have a better relationship with the horse. I thought “it doesn't exist in Europe, it doesn't exist in French & it's pretty easy to do...”. (A no-brainer right? 🤷♂️😉) It's not so difficult to create videos & training programs if you have the right teacher! The platform is another thing 🙈. (starts laughing…). I'm not saying it's easy, because it's not. But the video principle is pretty much easy and it didn't exist at the time, not so long ago. There was nothing at that moment. Nothing… So, you were confident enough to launch it, because there weren’t any competitors? Absolutely. And I really had a lot of drive! I really wanted this to succeed because I had studied for a completely different job. I used to have a plan... That was in the European Affairs. I was going to have a career. But then I decided that I wasn't going to make a career in this area because I didn't like it. So I had to succeed! Yeah, so you had to make the shift and you went 100% all-in? 200%! 500%! During the first year, my entire life was about Blooming Riders. My entire life, my nights & days. 😅 Did you have any fears about starting it? Financially for example? Yes, I was super stressed out. It was terrible... I started to sleep really bad. Mostly because I was stressed about the money, I didn’t have any family money that could help me or like manage my daily life without working. So that wasn't super comfortable! But then I had this opportunity to raise some funds. I just had to reach certain objectives, so I worked tirelessly! I didn't have any choice, you know. I had to do it. You had to jump in and you had to take the risks. Absolutely, it had to happen although it was stressful. I didn't have any options. because otherwise, I didn't know what to do with my life. Lucy, COO & co-founder, who couldn't be here today (unfortunately) was a really big help. Because we were just the two of us you know, carrying the burdens together. 💪 💡 You can find more details about Lucy Gérard's qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on her 👉LinkedIn profile👈. That was my next question.😉 How did you & Lucy meet? We met some time ago, even a few years before we started the company together, but we weren't really friends. We met at several equestrian events organized throughout Belgium. We had the same interests in the horse world and therefore knew each other from a distance. But then I started giving her some lessons & some training, the summer before I started the BeStarter program. Next, I told her about the project. And she was like "well, that could interest me! To work with you". So we did... And we got along really, really well. 🥰 I was actually really scared about having a co-founder because I know that I can be really demanding. I didn't know if it was going to work. But I felt a really good connection with her. I acknowledged that we had a really different skill set. She's really chill & I'm pretty energetic… To be gentle with myself. 🙈😅 So it was a great match! We started working together and thought "we're going to try and we'll see". Further questions didn't even occur. We were like "Yeah, it's working. So we're going to do it!". I did the six-week program, and then she joined me in November 2017. How do you divide the daily tasks? What are your functions? Lucie is mainly into the business development area. She works a lot on relationships & partnerships between different companies in the equestrian world, different brands, social media, and the platform. She's working a lot on the admin. Unfortunately… for her! Thank you, Lucy! 🙌😘 Because I hate it... She’s also managing the interns & the team in general. Whereas I'm working a lot on the content about everything related to horses, on all the domains that we're treating, and on the platform. All the technical stuff about horses, etc. In addition, I'm managing the relationships with the teachers & the different professionals that are working with us on the platform (or are going to work with us). I'm also building the programs because I'm dealing with the most technical things. That's pretty much the division that we're having today. How big is your team now? We're not so big, it's only the four of us. There's Lucy & there's me. Then there's Elisabeth, our Digital Marketer. She’s notably working on data tracking and handles our social media, and she used to work in law & client strategy. And we've got a Raphaël who's the editor, so all video-things related… He's, he's doing that. 🎥 How many coaches, teachers & different professionals do you have for the moment? More than 25 in total, for now. It's pretty big already. It is. Yeah. 😎 Blooming Riders was founded in 2018. But in 2020 there was COVID-19. How did you cope with that? 2020 was actually a great year for us. Corona was a big boost. In the first lockdown, we were all over the place! The numbers were great, it was crazy! We were like "oh my god if only this could be all the time like this". (Laughing) No more money problems. 🤑 After the first lockdown, it stabilized. The coronavirus was a great opportunity for us, but also lots of competitors arose, which is normal. Because a lot of equestrian professionals got ideas about going online. Before that, we had a few competitors coming up. But afterward, the number of platforms that arose & came up, was incredible! But you were the first, so that's always an advantage. Yes, we had a lot of advantages in terms of the volume of content. We got hundreds of hours of video content & a lot of teachers. But, some competitors had famous names, really international riders. But I think competition is always a good thing because it pushes you to do better. I see that as an opportunity! Now, you're mostly focusing on the French-speaking part of Belgium & France? Yes indeed, mostly the French-speaking population. Actually, 80% of our clients are French and not even Belgian. What do you think Blooming Riders will look like in five years? Do you wish to expand your business to other countries? We do! Absolutely. The goal would be to get into English content by the end of 2023. We'll be focusing on the European inland: Germany, the Netherlands, and Flanders would be our primary targets. Germany is extremely active online. The online equestrian there world is super active. On social media, it's crazy... I don't know why. 🤷♂️ But they're super involved. Afterward, we'll see about the UK. Because the UK is a bit different in terms of equestrian culture. What's the difference? I used to think that the United Kingdom was the number one country for horse riding... It is... But in terms of vocabulary, it's a bit different. What do you think are the biggest challenges to expanding? The language barrier? Wow, the biggest… That's difficult! The language barrier doesn't worry me, because in terms of language, it's pretty easy... It's only a question of translation & making voiceovers. What worries me a bit, is more about the culture. We have different ways of seeing horses, coaching techniques, training, managing & housing horses. There are a lot of differences between Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. Even France is a little different from Belgium. So, I'm wondering how we're going to circle around those issues & unite our clients. You will have to find new coaches. Yeah, absolutely. And go there to perceive the differences that are important. Because we want the message to feel genuine, and I think that in France and Belgium, we have that for now. Because we're from here & know how it works. But, in the end, it's truly about the cultural differences, which I hope will be properly perceived by us. That's a big challenge! Why & how did you become partners with Nightborn? We first worked together a couple of years ago and did a UI/UX audit of the first version of our platform. And we really liked it. I really love the design that Nightborn is bringing! I can't judge the back-end, even though I'm sure it's great. I cannot judge it. 🤷♂️ I really like the atmosphere & what they do. And we really liked working with them. We always thought we'd like to work with Nightborn again someday. But it was mainly a question of budget. We didn't have the allocated budget to work & build up a big project with them. Now that we had this budget, we came back to knock on your door to finish our big project, which is the mobile app & web app. First, you had a web app & now you're pushing it to a mobile app? Well, not really. We're going to work with both of them. The idea of the mobile app was to allow our clients, when they're outdoors with the horses, to easily access the videos on their mobiles. We see it as another feature. We don't want to push people to the mobile app more than to the web app. We just wanted them to be flexible in the way they use Blooming Riders. We wanted to be really versatile. But we know if our clients are at home, they're going to use the web app because it's more comfortable. 💡 5 reasons why your business needs an app To come back to the question about Nightborn. How did you hear about us? Through Startup Factory, which is one of our shareholders. Are you happy with Nightborn? How was the collaboration? I’m really happy. It was really great! Poor Nightborn, they had to deal with us. 😅🙈 Honestly, it was a big challenge because Nightborn came upon a project that already existed and was flawed, like really flawed… It must be challenging to get into something that is not your job. You have to dig into it, get it & understand how it works. And neither I nor Lucy can help with that because we don't have the skills to understand any of it. They had to spend a lot of time on really cumbersome things. But I think that they did an amazing job. I really (really!) like the mobile app. Since we've been a company for four years now, we've been pretty demanding because we already had over 1000 paying members. So we couldn't really work in a way like "let's start building an MVP"! Because that's what we were doing already & we've had MVPs in the past. What we're trying to do is achieve higher standards than we had before. We used to have some problems with the platforms! I think we underestimated it, until Nightborn came... Then we understood that it was much more difficult than we thought. I know that we can be annoying, due to our pretty high standards. And I'm sorry about that! But it was really cool. I'm so happy with it. So relieved. What do you think are the main strengths of Nightborn? when you compare it to other app development agencies… I think their youth is something that I would mention as great quality & strength. Because they are really flexible & fast. I mean, there's no question that they're always available! Working really fast & super responsive. And I think that the fact that they're all pretty young & really motivated must play a big role in that! You invited Laurent & Etienne to a yoga session. How did you come up with that idea? Three weeks before, we actually launched a yoga program for riders, with a yoga teacher who's also a rider. The idea was that we were trying to have some kind of event for the mobile app launch. But the problem was the coronavirus... Rules were pretty strict at the time. I think we had the corona pass & it was all pretty complicated. I think it was a max of eight people. Yeah, I don't remember how many. But it was really restricted. We couldn't do something at the stables because it was winter & really cold. But if we wanted to do something indoors, we didn't have many choices either. So we were like "Okay, well, we'll just launch a yoga program. Let's do yoga!". So we did a yoga course because I think that yoga is pretty universal. Everyone can do it, even if you're not a rider or not into yoga. If Laurent & Etienne can do it, everyone can. 😉 Well, they did it & did it perfectly well. 😊 💡 Who are Laurent & Etienne? 👉 Meet the team They said they enjoyed it. So I take your word for it! We're almost through the questions. Do you have any final words for Nightborn? Yeah, we're so grateful! Really, really grateful! Because we had so much trouble with the web development in the past. I think it was a great opportunity to meet & work with Nightborn. Now, in less than a week the web app is going to be launched & I'm so happy about it. Because now I feel like the product that we're going to push matches our standards. We pictured a really beautiful, nice & smooth product for our client. And I'm so happy & grateful that we had the opportunity to realize that, despite the challenges. I do believe that the image Blooming Riders is going to have will elevate us in some way. So again, I’m really happy about it. (In the meantime, the launch has already happened. The interview took place on May 12) I have no more questions. Thank you for your time! If this interview sparked your interest, feel free to check out the case study we made of Blooming Riders. 👉 Case study: Blooming Riders 👇 The interview is now available on our Nightborn-Youtube channel as well. 🥳 Want to learn more about Blooming Riders? Check out their 👉 Website 👉 Youtube 👉 Instagram
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Nightborn & interns, a better love story than Twilight 🙌
At Nightborn, we love to give opportunities to young, passionate & motivated people. Almost every staff member who works here full-time or freelance has done an internship with us at some point. And we’re so glad they did! The best part is, they seem to be just as happy about it. As you probably know, one of the key experiences recommended during your time as a student is doing an internship. On our job page we say that interns at Nightborn won't serve coffee, they will run on coffee! ☕️ By joining us, interns can expect to be involved in real projects and collaborate with the entire team. That’s us talking 🤓. But, how do the interns themselves experience the internship? We asked 3 women, of the dev, design & marketing team. Why focus on the women of Nightborn you ask?! Well, because app development has the image of being a man's world (FALSE!) and... today is International Women's Day (March 8, 2022). 🙌😍 The rules of the Nightborn internship An internship should be fun! It should be a way to gain fresh knowledge through professionals willing to share their expertise with you. An internship should provide challenging opportunities, and especially opportunities to discover and develop yourself. We had the privilege of working with a number of interns at Nightborn. Through our internship program, we strive to provide opportunities to build quality React Native applications, scalable architecture, testing, and everything else that goes into app development. Our interns really have completed an impressive amount of work, from contributing to open-source packages to building real-world apps with clients. We asked our (former) interns, Maroua (Full-stack developer), Amélie (UX/UI designer), & Christelle (Digital marketer), to reflect upon their experiences and write about some of the things they’ve learned. Here is what they said (responses edited for length and clarity). First of all, let's meet the ladies! Meet Amélie, UX/UI designer: Hey! My name is Amélie Detrez! I consider my biggest strength to be my creativity and out-of-the-ordinary thinking due to my education and love for art. I believe I can often come up with ideas nobody else would have thought of. My biggest weakness is that I'm extremely reserved and have a hard time starting a conversation with others. Even asking questions is difficult sometimes, which is quite the handicap for an internship. I'm passionate about everything creative. Photography, drawing, design… As long as I can create something with my own two hands. It's the way I express myself, no other explanation than “I just love it”. ❤️ Meet Christelle, digital marketeer: Hi! I'm Christelle and I see myself as a very organized & attentive person. Plus, I'm a good listener! However, I'm a strong perfectionist which can quickly discourage me. As a perfectionist, I'm really passionate about design. Whether it's digital, home design, or something else. It's something I can totally lose myself in & from which I can gain a strong sense of satisfaction with the end result. Meet Maroua, a Full-stack developer: Hi, I'm Maroua! A 22 years old girl from BXL. I studied at Haute École Bruxelles-Brabant (HE2B) and consider myself a photographer, computer scientist, and traveler (Oh do I adore traveling 😍🌴🏄♀️). One of my weaknesses is that I'm a perfectionist. (looks good on your resume, doesn't it? 😉). But honestly, if I do something and it's not perfect... Then I tend to dwell on it (too) long. Never finishing things until they're perfect, which can obviously be time-consuming. But, I'm a woman with many big ambitions and dreams. Very determined and willing to do everything to achieve my goals. You will not find the word "quitting" in my dictionary. I don't have specific passions, or maybe I haven't found them yet 🤷♀️. However, I love to learn new things every day! That's why I chose computer science! Because you have to constantly educate, train and update yourself on the latest technologies. There isn't really a routine & that's what I love. As a young startup, I assume you didn't know us yet... So, How did you women end up at Nightborn? Amélie: Not really... the only reference I had was the internship I found on LinkedIn. I wanted to work here because Nightborn seemed like a very friendly and down-to-earth company from the get-go, which is something I personally enjoy and feel comfortable with. Christelle: I agree with Amélie, I was looking for an internship in Digital marketing and lucky for me, Nightborn was a vacancy for interns that caught my eye. It's nice to hear that our vacancies catch the eye of students! Maroua, do you have anything to add to this? Maroua: I do 😊! The reason I ended up at Nightborn is that I was looking for a small company because I believe I can learn much faster and more effectively here than at a large company. When I saw Nightborn's internship, the first thing I did was do some research on Nightborn. When I visited the website I really liked the design. Moreover, you'll find an introduction about the agency and the different projects that Nightborn has already developed. The work behind it appeals to me very much and that's why I immediately thought that I would learn a lot as an intern with you. In addition, the website also introduces all employees of the company. I saw that Nightborn cares about every member. So, I submitted my application. ✍️ 💡 Curious about this group of Nightborners? These are the folks with whom we share our values, culture, and goals. Each member of the team is unique. 👉 Meet the Team 👈 So far so good. The first impressions were made & the internship could begin! What were your expectations going into the internship? Christelle: My internship goals were to end up in a startup or company where I immediately felt welcome as a junior digital marketer and where I would be given sufficient responsibility to learn and perform. An independent internship, with a lot of autonomy where I could boost my self-confidence towards future professional challenges. Maroua: Indeed, I agree with Christelle. I really wanted to discover the work of a developer. Gain experience, learn new languages and develop web & mobile applications. I'm a full-stack developer, which means that I had to learn to work on both the front-end and the back-end of an application. 💡On our Instagram page, we explain the difference between front-end, back-end & full-stack developers 👉 What does a developer do? However, it didn't stop there. To become a better developer, you also need to learn how to organize a project. This includes being able to communicate with clients. Which isn't always evident for students! I assume this is also the case for you Amélie? Since you said in the introduction that you were quite reserved... Amélie: Yep 😊, and as it was my first internship, I didn’t really know what to expect. I mostly wanted to refine my skills and learn more through professionals in the field. I was quite scared before starting because working at “regular” offices always seemed like a nightmare to me 🙈. But thankfully Nightborn proved me wrong and showed me that office work can be very fun, too. Nightborn began almost four years ago as a two-man business. Today, we're a strong team thanks to the company culture of constantly growing new talent. Resulting in a strong staff of more than 20 experts, including developers, UI/UX designers, and marketers. We always had a really good idea of what aspiring app developers or designers expect from a mobile app development internship. We knew it had to be a good mix of coding challenges, tutorials, interesting insights, and bits and pieces of the daily life of the Nightborn app developer. 💡 How Nightborn created a challenging culture between designers and developers? 🙌 How did you experience the company culture? Can you describe it? Amélie: Nightborn has an amazing balance between professionality and fun. They're very inclusive, so even though I'm shy & reserved and everyone around me is the opposite, I still feel very welcome and accepted. They made a very good first impression on me because they tone down the “professionality” (coldness) and make room for more vibrant and friendly conversation. 😍 Christelle: True! The intern is his/her own boss & can try out his/her own strategies & methodologies. You have to "Love what you do" and incorporate some of that joy and passion into your daily work. 💪 That's what motivates the team! And more importantly, try to share that love and passion with the team! Because enthusiasm is contagious. Passing it on to the team goes a long way in maintaining a fun and stimulating work environment. Beautiful words Christelle and 100% correct! I hope you agree with this Maroua? 😉 Maroua: Of course! At Nightborn, we're constantly working as one team. There's a lot of communication between all developers and other departments & a lot of support in case of problems, which makes the work more fun & interesting. But it wasn't all fun & games I suppose... 🙈😉 What were your main day-to-day responsibilities? Maroua: I had to complete several tasks to develop applications and also do the maintenance afterward. I also like that we don't stay in the same project indefinitely. Because we often work on several projects at the same time. What breaks the routine work! Amélie: Again, I can confirm this 😊... No day is spent the same. As a UI/UX designer at Nightborn, daily responsibilities vary greatly depending on the available projects and work. One day, you create fun visuals for their social media, and other days you will create logos, make a fun-looking homepage for a new project, or do research for a certain application… 💡 How can design benefit your business? Christelle: My mission as an intern was to handle digital marketing from all angles. To demonstrate what they can do & to show that their technology can help businesses grow, be more efficient, and offer new services to their customers! Raising visibility and interest, so more people can learn about Nightborn and get potential leads. That's right Christelle, something I (Kevin), the interviewer, try to do too 🤓. What challenges did you face most frequently in your role? Christelle: As a student and inexperienced marketeer, it was challenging to take initiative and ownership of some projects. At Nightborn, you can't be afraid to go the extra mile and get things done. Being confident and asking for responsibility is the way to go at this agency. 💪 Maroua: As a developer, it was challenging to learn new languages and at the same time develop applications with those languages. We don't always have a lot of time to create an application. The deadline is approaching quickly and as a result, we must work faster and follow the rhythm. Amélie: I probably speak for myself here, but it’s quite hard for me to know where I stand and what I’m allowed to do or say. I'm just an intern after all, and it’s hard to find a balance between fun and professionalism initially. In UX/UI design, there is an added pressure to create things that are good-looking and functional, which can be challenging considering you need to get used to the graphic design style and the workflow the company works with, which was all quite new for me and different to the things I usually design. That's very honest Amélie, and in my opinion not that exceptional. As an inexperienced intern, you find yourself in a fun environment, where you also have to perform. I understand the confusion & added pressure this might bring! Was it extra challenging being a woman in "a man's world"? Amélie: I haven’t been treated differently at all, so I wouldn’t say it was. Nightborn in general is very inclusive, so I haven’t felt a difference. During my studies, however, we started with about 15 women out of maybe 200 people in total. Today only 5 or so remain. For me, being a woman in this field brings me more strength than anything else, as I feel an extra need to prove myself! Succeeding will bring me a lot of joy. 😉 There's a stigma in my study that women can’t program (my studies combine design & programming among other things), and it's fun to prove everyone wrong. 🤘 💪 Girl power! How did you feel about this Christelle & Maroua? Christelle & Maroua: Nope! at Nightborn, it wasn't extra challenging at all 😊. We're doing the same work as the men and belong(ed) there very well! A successful internship requires the total support of the entire team. (Which we love to do 😎🤘). Youngsters need experienced developers to educate and help them build native mobile apps. Did you feel enough support? Maroua: As previously stated, the bosses and other team members are always available to answer your questions and assist you if you get stuck with your work. There are also numerous tutorials available so that you can learn more on your own. Amélie: For UX/UI designers, Nightborn has created several documents to help us get used to Figma & their way of working…. On top of that, as Maroua says, the team helps you whenever you need it, you're free to ask questions or ask for help whenever you want. They offer great support. And you, Christelle? Because as a digital marketer in a young app development agency you're somewhat of an outsider (no pun intended 😉😇) Christelle: Hehe's correct, as an app development startup there wasn't yet a large marketing team. So I had a bit of a "carte blanche". But the team and my internship supervisor trusted me very quickly and validated most of my approaches. I was able to contribute many ideas to enrich & feed the agency's media. With that, I'm very satisfied! Ladies, I'm almost through all my questions 🤝! I just wonder how you will remember Nightborn? What did (or do) you like best about working here? Christelle: I will remember Nightborn for 3 (big) reasons: the team, the vision & the atmosphere. ❤️ Amélie: The work as a UX/UI designer was very pleasing as every day was different, fun, and challenging. And... The people at Nightborn made it very fun to work here. Not a single day was boring! Can you top this Maroua? 🤯 Maroua: Well, like so many of the current employees, I'm currently already employed as a full-time developer. Which makes me very happy. 🥳😍 So, in my case, I see it more as "making memories" than "having memories" about Nightborn. Final words Are you excited, now you know how our super-awesome interns did it? Then don't waste your time and keep an eye on: 👉 Our Job page 👉 LinkedIn profile Whether it's development, design, or marketing... The Nightborn internships are appealing in more than one way. Not only do you learn how to build a (mobile) app, but you also get a taste of what it’s like to work in an app development agency. In addition, as you can see, there're also opportunities for full-time employment or other career opportunities after the internship is finished. (Yes indeed! Congrats Maroua 😉🥳) That's how we roll! 🤘
Customer Journey Mapping, what is it & why do you need it?
Nowadays, all we seem to hear in B2B and B2C is how to keep companies relevant by using great content and SEO... Yet, many overlook the most important aspect of the process 👉 the customer or user! Especially in terms of the user experience (UX). UX reigns supreme in this digital age, and creating personalized experiences is the ultimate goal. It all starts with gaining a better understanding of your customers in order to meet and exceed their expectations. As a result, it will boost customer satisfaction, foster loyalty, and make your business more successful. (Win-Win-Win 🥳) The average business now relies on several communication channels to engage its audience. You need a functional understanding of the user experience of chatbots, websites, apps, ads, social media, and email. Not even taking into account your customer service representatives, salespeople, or the product itself. And don't forget... You must also communicate a consistent brand message and provide a consistent experience across all platforms which is becoming increasingly difficult and complex to keep up with. (obviously 🤷♂️) But how do you start improving UX? *Drum Rollll... 🥁🥁🥁* ... 🔥 By customer journey mapping! (NO WAY?! 🤯) In this blog, we cover everything you need to know about mapping and optimizing the customer journey. What Is a Customer Journey Map? A customer journey map is a visual representation of how your app or website's users behave while using it. It provides crucial information to businesses on how to improve the user experience and eliminate pain points in their app's UX. For example, making it easy for users to finalize their purchases. A well-thought-out customer journey map is the key to having this process go more smoothly. Although it may appear that the journey from initial contact to sale is straightforward, it's anything but! Due to the fact that no two customer journeys are the same. With continual technological advancements and new ways for people to buy products or services online, it's essential to prepare and anticipate how a customer will behave at every stage. The last thing you want to do is set your goals using outdated expectations. Why is customer journey mapping so important? Customer journey maps have use outside of UX design and marketing. They help facilitate a common business understanding of how every customer should be treated across all sales, logistics, distribution, etc... channels. It provides major benefits: Creating better experiences: as stated, customer journey maps are used to drive customer-centered design, which leads to better experiences. By knowing how your target audience interacts with your products, you can compare customer expectations to reality and fill in the gaps. You gain the ability to improve your UX by enhancing your strengths and improving your weaknesses. Maps identify troublesome touchpoints for your customers, such as confusing software or website pain points. Improving these areas of friction improves usability. 💡 According to research, experience is replacing product and price as the most important factors in differentiating your business. Better customer understanding: Segmenting your audience into personas is also a part of customer mapping. (We'll get back to this later on). This will give you the power to personalize your strategies and will provide insight into what different audience segments prefer in terms of messaging, timing, and platform. Truly personalized targets consistently outperform expectations and convert. More effective Marketing: With a deeper understanding of your audience’s decision-making process, you can customize your marketing to address their desires and needs. Marketers will acquire a better understanding of how their customers interact with their business, as well as valuable insight into the best channels for converting leads into prospects and prospects into loyal customers. Your marketing, sales, and customer service channels will be united if you refer to a journey map that addresses all touchpoints. It will encourage user-driven marketing and enable accurate lead retargeting across channels. You can have the best marketing team, but if your customers aren’t happy, you won’t get anywhere. (FACTS 🔥) Improved customer retention: A useful map takes into account post-purchase experiences and allows for brand loyalty to grow. You can use the knowledge of when and why customers leave to get them back and prevent recurring issues. You can also predict customer behavior and stay ahead of needs, decreasing problems and complaints. You'll learn where people drop off, discover areas for improvement, fix errors, and retarget leads to get them back on track. Better communication about research findings: Journey maps add value to UX research by summarizing the findings in a way that is easy to understand and apply. A UX expert can reduce a great deal of information into a short, visually appealing story that better communicates the data's meaning. After all, research is useless unless it is understood. Prevent silos and unite stakeholders: Silos occur when departments act separately, and their information or goals aren’t in line with each other. Journey maps can help break down business divisions and start a process of wider customer-focused communication in a business since they're an effective way to portray the customer experience across many levels of an organization. They can also be used to inform stakeholders about how customers perceive the company when they interact with it. They assist them in discovering what customers think, feel, see, hear, and do. Faster sales cycles and more efficient tasks: By removing unnecessary steps and making tasks more efficient for the user, you implement information architecture that supports UX. Users who complete tasks faster can move through the stages of the sales cycle more quickly, speeding up your average sales process. Scales your business: With goals made, processes become more efficient and strategies become purposeful and easy to track. By continuing to re-evaluate your journey map and customer expectations, You'll find it easier to keep up with technology & industry trends if you continue to re-evaluate your journey map and customer expectations, which is a crucial effort to stay ahead of the curve. How to map out a customer journey step-by-step To start, decide whether you want to focus on the entire journey or one aspect of your app’s experience. What are your goals for this mapping exercise? What organizational needs do you intend to meet? What are your customers doing and how are they doing it? First of all, you will need to do some preparation prior to beginning your journey maps. What do we mean? 🤔 👉 Well, once you know the journey you want to map, you'll need to divide your audience into segments or groups that can be identified as different user personas. When it comes to putting together any type of user research, these are extremely important tools! By learning common user behavior, you can create several user personas to understand how different types of users interact with your app. As a result, you'll be able to figure out what your app's users want, how to design features, and which adjustments would improve the UX. Once you’ve done your preparation & understand what you need and what a customer journey map is. You can follow a 9-step process to map out the journey. Your customer’s journey is complex, so the job of the map is to make it as focused and simple as possible. Step 1: Remember the customer is number 1 & the reason you exist A customer journey map illustrates how a user perceives your business and interacts with your products or services. Not your design team, not you, ... Only the user! You have to put yourself in your customer's shoes because there can always be a difference between how you view yourself and how users view you. Step 2: Conduct research When analyzing your customer journey map, make sure it's easy enough to keep them taking the ideal logical steps while providing the personalized and educational content they need to stay engaged. You will need two types of research to accomplish this goal: Analytical research: By using your website's analytics, you'll know exactly where the customers are, how much time they spend with you and when they leave. Anecdotal research: How do you find out what the customer is thinking? Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and workshops, are simple but powerful ways to get information. The more user research you have, the easier this exercise will be. Be creative, and if you don’t have the right research to define the journey, then consider how you can carry that research out. Step 3: Identify customer touchpoints On the business end of things, each touchpoint is crucial for interaction and conversion. Without identifying every touchpoint, you’re missing out on ways to optimize the mobile app user journey and identify areas for improvement. Targeted prospects want their journey to be as simple as possible, so including too many touchpoints in their buying process may not keep them engaged the entire way through. A seamless sales process where the customer is in and out in no time is just as important as offering high-quality products or services. 🤝 Having satisfied customers translates into brand loyalty. Step 4: Implement your customer journey map Now that you’ve identified each possible touchpoint, it’s time to implement your new findings and see how they work digitally. Create a understandable, logical and visually-appealing customer journey map that is accessible for all necessary team members. BUT HOW?! 🤷♂️ You can create a timeline map that brings together the journey over the course of time or use a completely different style of diagram. The objective is to simply show how a customer moves through your app's touchpoints and channels, as well as how that customer feels about each interaction along the way. Users will use your app in many different ways and not everyone will share the same goal. Create several customer journeys for your persona groups to avoid generalizing your audience and misinterpreting data. Understanding the complexities of how people engage with your app is the most effective method to improve service and influence the performance metrics that matter most to your company's goals. Step 5: Regularly optimize your customer journey map Your online customer journey will change frequently as technology develops and new digital platforms are introduced. By taking the time to regularly review how your customers are moving through your buying cycle, you can identify gaps and develop processes to streamline the customer experience. Although the process of creating a customer journey map can be a timely endeavor, it provides unparalleled value for both your brand and your customers. 🙌 Step 6: Develop KPIs and measure success Without measuring the success of the user journey, you won’t be able to move forward with your targets and the journey map will serve no purpose. KPIs should be developed to understand the performance of each customer journey and where improvements may be made. In addition to revenue, you should be able to define KPIs such as conversion rate, retention rate, active users, and more... Step 7: Test the customer journey first-hand When mapping the touchpoints in your customer journey, you can also test this yourself to get a clear picture of the process. This way you gain first-hand experience of your app and have an opportunity to note down the positives and negatives. You can also test out your app as different user personas and see what works best. Your research should reveal how different users interact with your app, which steps they take, and their satisfaction or pain points at every step. Once you have this information and use it to create a map of the user journey, you can begin the optimization process. This includes A/B testing results to see which modifications have positive results and can be implemented to your entire audience. Step 8: Continually optimize your mobile app using fresh data There is no endpoint to your app’s optimization. You should always be looking for new ways to improve the user experience and satisfy every user persona. Whether you are eliminating unnecessary steps in the customer journey or looking for ways to retain users, your app’s performance can always be improved by gathering more data and acting according to your findings. This is why it is important to A/B test as much as possible. Step 9: Consider the customer lifecycle Retaining current customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones and just as vital to long-term success. As a result, many journey maps are organized around four stages: awareness, consideration, decision, and after-sale. This can be effective as long as you remember that not all users buy, and you focus on the problems you’re solving at each step of the journey. UX designers often use maps for specific projects and goals. These maps are detailed and account for the entire digital customer journey relevant to the product. Customer Journey Mapping Examples To better interpret the customer journey, we'll give you two practical examples of experiences. Example 1: Slow loading times People expect everything to happen right away, which is why website speed optimization is so important. If a customer has to wait and see the timer going around and around, they'll go elsewhere. If you are not aware of things like your bounce rate and the time spent on your page, you have a problem. In this instance, a customer experience map can be eye-opening for your team. Example 2: The failed checkout Even if your website works seamlessly through the shopping process, having an inefficient checkout can kill a sale. Your order forms should be programmed so that if a user makes a mistake, they only have to fill out that field and the rest of the information is saved. Putting in the same information over and over can lead to higher abandonment rates. Final words Creating customer journeys doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. The effort put in is worthwhile because it enables a shared understanding of the user experience and offers each stakeholder and team member the chance to contribute to improving that experience. Seeing the details in sharp relief will give you the chance to translate your empathy into a design that better meets your users’ needs and removes as many pain points as possible. Offering a streamlined and enjoyable online experience will keep customers engaged while you drive sales forward. 🚀 If you liked this article, you might also like: What's a Design System and why is it so important? Why you should consider an MVP and how to create an effective one? How can design benefit your business?
15 ways to promote your app for free
Once your application is finished, you're proud. The application is the product resulting from understanding your audience and providing efficient solutions for their problems. However, the story does not end there. Your audience needs to be aware of the application's existence once it's ready to use. This means promoting your app! This process can require a lot of resources 💰💸. However, there're additional ways to promote your app for free. You may or may not be aware of them yet. But that's why we're here 😉, and in the following paragraphs, we'll go over the various possibilities with you. Promoting your app for free will only cost you time and we're confident that if you follow our tips you will get a significant increase in the number of followers and downloads. 1. Create a website or landing page If the app is related to your existing business, you could dedicate a whole page to the app on your website or include it in a section on your website to improve awareness. If you decide to create a unique landing page for your app, make sure to mention the problems that your app solves: the features & benefits of the app, and clearly explain how to properly use it. You could also include some customer experiences with your app to confirm its utility. Never forget to include the download link, in the end, you want your visitors to download your app. Creating a landing page is definitely a must in order to kickstart your mobile app marketing that will increase your visibility through search engines. 2. Write and get featured in blogs Include your app in one or multiple relevant blog posts. This is basically free exposure. You can also dedicate an entire blog to your app and make sure to include a call-to-action (CTA) with a download link. When you decide to write an entire blog about the app, make sure the origin and purpose of the app are highlighted. To provide the customer with a better understanding of your app and a smoother reading experience, try to use high-quality images and/or videos. It's also beneficial if your app appears on other blogs that your target audience frequents. Find high-quality blogs in your niche and reach out to industry experts to see if they'd be interested in writing about your app. Because of the increase in backlinks to your website, your app will gain more visibility through the blog and the website. 3. Send emails and newsletters If your app is related to an existing business, and you already have a mailing list, then use it to reach your customers through emails and newsletters. This is an opportunity to promote your app by reaching out to your customers, even before launching your application. Create an announcement newsletter that includes a description of the app, an explanation of its features, and how it can help customers. Again... Don't forget to add that call-to-action to download the app. If you want to grow your contact base for your new app, make sure to include the button "I want to receive more news about the app" within your app and use emails to ask for their feedback regarding the project. Because asking for feedback can lead to the discovery of issues, unsatisfied customer needs, and unrealistic expectations. Not only is their input useful information, but it also includes your audience in the app's development. 4. Optimize your visibility in the App stores Before hitting enter after typing a keyword to search for an app, Users can see multiple suggested apps based on that keyword. These results aren't random. They're shown because of their App Store Optimization which is related to the entered keyword. This is called the ASO. To optimally make use of ASO you could study and analyze the most relevant keywords for your app as well as which keywords your app is responding to at the moment. Since there's so much competition, it's critical that your app appears at the top of searches. 5. Publish your app on alternative App stores You might also consider releasing your app on alternative app stores to increase visibility and get more downloads. Some examples are: Amazon Appstore Opera/Bemobi Mobile Store Appbrain 6. Add share features to your app Include share options within your app so that users can share their content with others. This increases your app’s exposure. This exposure results in an increase in downloads. 7. Promote within existing apps If you already have a number of apps, you may use them to promote your new one. To maximize app user engagement, it's recommended that the new app is promoted only through your relevant existing apps. To boost engagement even more, you may offer your users a "reward" if they download the new app. This reward could be a free upgrade, new features, or a trial for the new app's higher-value option. 8. Be active on social media (duh... 😉) If you have active social media accounts you can write posts regarding your app. Because it's always a good idea to interact in the comment section to increase engagement. As said, don’t forget to ask for feedback from your followers! If you really want to build a community around your app you could create a unique page dedicated to your app. In this environment, your audience can discuss content, give feedback, and share ideas regarding your app. Make sure to regularly check this page and engage with your followers to optimize engagement. You could also use the name of your app as a hashtag, and promote it on your social media accounts. If your app hits the trending pages it will be exposed to an even greater audience. 🚀 📱 Check out our social media accounts: LinkedIn Instagram Facebook Dribbble 9. Join relevant groups By joining groups on social media & other platforms, you get to connect with potential customers and increase your network. You could include your own post asking for feedback on the app as the subject. This allows you to expand your network while also receiving valuable feedback and ideas. 🤝 10. People love videos, so make one Promo & demo videos can also be posted on your social media accounts and added to your website. Demos provide viewers with a visual experience and help them understand what's going on. For example 👉 Our process video 👈 11. Be active on forums Use forums if your app is focused on a niche market. You might also add the link to your app in your signature by becoming an active participant on a forum about your topic. Each time you post on that forum, you gain exposure. 🤟 12. Ask for reviews and feedback Include the possibility to send feedback within your app. This results in a lower threshold for the user since the feedback option is rapidly available. Additionally, encourage users to leave a review of the app in the app store. These reviews can increase your position in searches and ranking. A happy user is a user who will refer your app to his friends and relatives. 13. Get featured in the press, podcasts, and everywhere else you can Try to get featured on several platforms. For example, you could try to be a guest speaker on podcasts that are related to your target audience. Another possibility is to get featured on app review sites. Product Hunt is one such example. It's important to convince the app review site's owners with a well-prepared pitch. It's also possible to cross-promote apps. When the other app is complementary to yours, it's the best-case scenario. This increases relevance for both audiences. 14. Partner with influencers Provide influencers free access to your app's features. If they use the app and like it, they could decide to write a positive post/review about your app. Choose your influencers wisely by screening their relevance and target audience in comparison to your target audience. 💡 Where do you find these influencers? Well, take a look at our friends of Efluenz 🤳 15. Submit your app to award competitions To acquire more exposure, you may enter an app award competition. If you win you will also gain more credibility. Along with these advantages, you could get more reviews and maybe even some press coverage. Here are a few award competitions you could consider entering: Appy Awards Best Mobile App Awards Appsters Awards Apple Design Awards Best App Ever Awards In conclusion There are a number of ways to promote your app. This doesn't necessarily mean you need a large budget. There're plenty of free promotional methods you could use as shown in this blog. It's definitely worth thinking about adding one or more free promotion methods. Note that most of these promotional methods involve customer feedback, which can be very valuable both for your product development and your customer engagement. If you liked this article, you might also like: How can design benefit your business? Why you should consider an MVP and how to create an effective one? How to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency? Author Lennert Vermeir
5 reasons why you should work with an App Development Agency
Partnering with an app development agency will help you out big time if you don’t possess sufficient knowledge about the development processes. Because you'll need their expertise to create the perfect (web) application that appeals to consumers and accomplishes the goals you set. They can assist you with determining the best platform for your app, the best UI/UX design, the lowest overall project cost, and more. Convinced? 😉 Then either scroll to the bottom of the page or use the chat feature in the bottom right corner to contact us. 💬 Not convinced (yet) ? 💡 Then these 5 reasons to hire an app development agency should do the trick: 1. Specialized knowledge and experience in their domain Your company's tech staff are most likely jacks-of-all-trades. They can assist you in setting up email on your smartphone and restoring your wireless network if it goes down. But while most in-house IT staff have some development and coding experience, they lack the specific expertise needed to create an application that runs effectively and looks nice. But when you partner with an app development agency, you can rely on experts who have devoted their professional lives to mastering the art of apps. You'll get a team of individuals with the required skill set to design, develop and test your application. Each of them has the knowledge and experience in their domain to take over the project, so you can get a full stack of development and design services. This also implies that you can stay focused on your core business and company goals. Because developing a mobile app consumes a significant amount of time and resources. This way, you can relieve your in-house IT staff of extra work, giving them more time and energy to focus on the important tasks of your company. 💡 Obviously, as an app development agency, we provide this expertise 😉. Find out more 👉 nightborn.be/services 👈 2. Project managers to oversee the project App development projects include a variety of processes. From design to development, to testing and repair. Agencies will assign a personal project manager to oversee these operations. They will not only monitor the project's progress but will also act as a link between the client and the developers. They can communicate between both parties to ensure that your app turns out just the way you wanted it to be. A project manager is responsible for everything, from cost, resource, and planning management to assisting clients in understanding the different processes. They hold meetings with the team to keep track of progress, keep work logs, ensure that the deadline is followed, and so on. They offer round-the-clock support services to their clients. That's why relying on a project manager is a great way to reduce stress and headaches but also to make sure everyone is on the same page. 3. More budget-friendly than hiring new staff Ask yourself the following questions: What is the size of your company's workforce? Or how many can you afford? 🤔 Hiring staff can be expensive, and not every business needs (or wants) to hire a full-time app developer when they only need that skill set for one mobile app or a few projects. That's why choosing an app development agency will be more budget-friendly than a in-house team. Most agencies offer a variety of payment options to suit the needs of all types of clients, from startups to large corporations. You only pay for the work they do, not for the tools or software they use. Agencies provide you with lower rates, peace of mind, confidence, and avoid a lack of professionalism and fluctuating prices. 4. Access to cutting-edge technology When developing a mobile application, you need to make sure that it functions on all of your desired platforms and devices. When you hire an agency, one of the benefits is that they have access to cutting-edge technology, which ensures that the app is developed to be compatible with these appropriate platforms. App development agencies are adaptable. To effectively serve its customers, it must remain on top of trends and implement the latest market innovations. A freelancer or in-house developer may be completely unaware of some new technological developments or may lack the financial means to keep up with technological improvements. 5. A long-term relationship with the developers An app development agency is eager to build a lasting relationship with its clients. Because the app development process doesn't end with the application's launch. As your company grows, it will require regular updates. You could wish to adjust the design, improve the functionality, add new features, and so on. For that, you need a long-lasting relationship with the developers. 🤝 The agency will have the motivation to work efficiently on your app during and after development as it will help boost its portfolio. Therefore, it's best to hire a company to build long-term relations. Final words At Nightborn, we're all about collaborations. We love to team with our clients and collaborate with them along the entire process to conceive and launch a high-end application that answers users' needs and business objectives. The prime goal is to provide users with the best experience across all platforms, whether it's a mobile app, a web app, a desktop app, or wearables, and even interactive kiosks. Our years of experience allowed us to collaborate with different types of clients and, therefore, various applications. Are you looking to create an application intended to be the next big thing in the B2C market? We're the team you need! Are you looking for an internal application intended for your employees to improve their workflow? We nailed that! Are you looking for an MVP and prototype to find investors and collect users' feedback? Yup, we did that as well! Sounds good? Download our brochure to learn more about our approach, technical architecture, and references by clicking the link below. Click 👉 here 👈 🙌🏻 If you liked this article, you might also like: How to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency? 5 reasons why your business needs an app How Cross-Platform Development Improves Client Experience and Satisfaction
What is a front-end developer, and what has he got to offer?
Why you should consider an MVP and how to create an effective one?
If you are working on creating a digital product, it’s primordial to think about how to answer the user’s needs. An MVP (Minimum viable product) will allow you to learn if your product’s idea is successful and matches with the user’s expectations. It will help collect valuable feedback and confirm your business approach. Why should you build an MVP? Before starting to design and develop your entire product, your business can benefit from launching an MVP first. Here are a few benefits: You can minimize development costs as you can quickly launch your MVP and gather valuable feedback from end-users. As you collect the user’s feedback, you’ll discover that certain features may have to be changed or even removed. With an MVP, you have room for flexibility and you can easily avoid costly mistakes that would have occurred with a complete app. User testing and feedback are like the sun to a flower. It makes you grow. Thanks to testing and feedback, you’ll be able to define your future plans and grow based on concrete and relevant data. You’ll be able to shift your course and features without complex changes. Your final product is not going to be developed by itself. As most entrepreneurs, you’ll probably face the moment when you’ll be looking for investors to support your project. An MVP can be strategic at this point as showcasing a working model of your product can influence investors’ decisions. 1. Define business/user's needs and know your market Successful projects don’t happen by chance. They are built to bring solutions to a specific problem. That’s why you have to sit around the table, and define your business needs and talk with potential users to know about their expectations. The probability that your product already exists on the market, is fairly high. Having competitors on the market is a good indicator. This means customers are demanding this kind of solution. So don’t give up your project but instead, research and learn from the market and try to improve your solution. 2. Phase your project with feature prioritization By now, you should have a good view of the feature that should be developed to meet users’ needs. But your MVP can’t contain all of them. That’s why you’ll have to divide your features into categories. The essentials Nice to have The extras Then try to assign your features to those categories depending on their importance and value. When doing this, think about users. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand if a certain feature can be a real added value while using your product. In the end, you’ll have a clear view of which features should be developed for your MVP and even have some sort of phases for upcoming versions. 3. Define your MVP’s success criteria You must define how you’re going to measure the success of your MVP. Here are a few examples: How many people downloaded your MVP? Did they provide feedback and was it relevant enough to make solid decisions for upcoming phases? What was the average usage time per user? Which features were used the most? The least? Which features received the most favorable feedback? The least? Gather all this information and try to understand how it reflects your MVP’s success and how can you go forward. 4. Keep in mind that MVP doesn’t mean ugly, messy, and filled with bugs. Yes, MVP stands for “Minimum viable product”. However, the minimum doesn’t mean garbage. While creating an MVP, you should focus on the core features of your product. Those features should always bring relevant solutions to users. But it’s crucial for your MVP to be properly designed and developed. Don’t try to spare time by avoiding design phases. Make sure your app is performing and fast enough and avoid sloppy bugs. In the end, your MVP must attract your end-users and potential investors. Your MVP is like a first date where it’s all about the first good impression. 5. Stick to the plans You might be tempted to add fancy features or postpone your MVP’s launch but that’s just not the objective. That would be counter-productive. You must stick to the line and launch your high-end MVP as expected. You’ll have enough time afterward to think about later phases and additional features, but your first mission is to test the core of your app and perfect it. Final words Don’t try to run before you can walk. That’s just the purpose of an MVP - Quickly launch a product based on your concept and test its success on the market. An MVP will be the best way to test your product on a specific market. You will find out if your product is able to solve the user’s problems. Your MVP is the first step of a long-term vision. It’s the foundation of your product so make sure it is future-proof, solid, and scalable. If you liked this article, you might also like: How can design benefit your business? How cross-platform development improves client satisfaction How to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency?
How to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency?
First, define your requirements Always start by defining your project’s needs. Write down what you need for your project. Make sure this includes: the goal of your application the size of the project the platforms the skills you expect from your agency the budget you have the deadline Also, think about the type of relationship you want with an application agency. Next, calculate your budget. It is better to be prepared when looking for application agencies to eliminate bad choices quickly. Read existing case studies and look for an outstanding portfolio By reading existing case studies of an application agency you can see who they worked with, what the project was about, and how they handled the project. It might especially be interesting if an existing case study resembles your upcoming app. Case studies can give insight into their experience as an application agency. Multiple case studies about projects for big corporations can give a greater sense of credibility. When an agency has a big portfolio of large projects that are very well designed, you could assume they will handle bigger projects properly since they completed these in the past. Also, check if creativity is present in their case studies. Don't forget to visit the website and check the profile and milestones to get a better understanding of the agency. You could also download one of the agency’s apps if they are free to see if they promise what they preach. Check the design and functionality in order to see if you are convinced of the agency’s work. Look at references and reviews You could also contact references and clients of the application agency to gather information about their past projects. Ask about their experiences with the agency. If their experiences were great you could ask for more information. For example, what was the project they developed for you? What was the scale and timeframe of your project? The best development companies will provide you with this sort of material even without asking. If a software house can’t show you any letters of recommendation from previous clients, it should raise a red flag. Avoid talking to companies that don’t have a proven track record of app development. You could also read testimonials if there are any available on the internet. Testimonials are quite a credible source but will only apply to the client’s project and experiences. Also, you can take a look at the reviews and ratings of their apps in the application stores. A company is all about its people Projects are being worked on by a team. The individuals’ skills and personalities within their team are an important part of the course of the project. The atmosphere within a team can have a strong impact on the project’s result. Therefore it is important to have a good relationship with your partner. Plan a meeting with the potential agency and check if you get along. Make sure you feel the vibe of your contact person and his agency. Look for a reliable and long-term partner that can ensure the durability of your app. Understand the methodology of the agency Another important aspect when looking for an agency is its process. Check what methodology the agency uses to work on projects and if it suits the method of your project. Don't forget to ask them if they will build a customized application or not. A personalized application could resolve multiple areas of the business. Research is a very important part of the creation of an app. Before hiring an app agency you should ask them how they approach research and what kind of data they gather prior to writing any code. Required support and competences It’s important to check if the agency is compatible with your company. Check if the agency meets your project’s needs which you wrote down earlier. Discuss with the agency if they can create all the features you‘d like to have within your app. You’ll also need to align the programming languages and software products that will be used by your app developers, so ask the agency what their technology preferences are. Within your project, you determine the required platforms your app needs to run on. Discuss your technology stack to ensure they support software for the platform you want your app to run on. An application agency can also become your consulting partner. When you‘d like to consult before the development of your application you could contact an application agency with advanced consultancy skills. An agency can give insightful advice regarding the design and the strategy of your project. Communication with your agency Communication is an important aspect while your project is in process. You should ask about arrangements regarding communication flow when choosing your partner. Make sure to include your own requirements regarding communication. You should discuss for example the frequency at which you‘ll want to receive project updates in order to be up to date with the progress of your project. Also, audit if they share the same set of terms and phrases and what tools they use to track the progress of a project. If they use a project management tool that you are familiar with it could be easier to share progress within the same tool. Keep track of how frequently an agency replies to your messages and phone calls. Do they take initiative? The way they respond can give you an idea if they are interested in working with your company. Size of the project and team When you are in contact with different agencies you should make sure the agency can handle the size of your project. If the team size and structure of the agency aren’t optimal for your project it could take a long time to finish your application. You could screen the structure by checking the number of testers, developers, designers, UX/UI experts, and QA experts currently working in the company. Budget proposal Finally, contact the remaining agencies regarding their budget proposal for your project. Keep in mind that the cheapest contract isn’t always the best contract. You should also keep in mind the app maintenance. A cheap product could give bugs that could be avoided in the development process. Regarding the costs, you should also discuss a clear policy around app maintenance and support. Ask how the app maintenance is charged for ongoing support. Costs could be a fixed rate or an hourly cost. Also discuss the costs of each new app release, handling bugs, and long-term support. In conclusion A good application agency fulfills your project’s needs, is compatible with your company, is credible, and respects your deadline and maximum budget. Your app represents your company so it is very important to choose the right agency beforehand. Poor choice of agencies will lead to extra costs and the possibility of a low-quality project. When you went through all these steps you have set your requirements and did your research. After thoughtful consideration, you will have a higher chance of success in finding the right agency for you. If you liked this article, you might also like: How Nightborn created a challenging culture between designers and developers? How we used React, Gatsby, and Prismic to create a high-end and well-polished website How can design benefit your business?
Meet Youri Moskovic, CEO of Prediko
Youri Moskovic is helping companies forecast their inventory needs to eliminate stockouts and excess inventory with his company Prediko, an easy-to-use and cost-effective inventory optimization platform for e-commerce brands. Their plug & play software integrates with e-commerce sales & marketing tools and accounts for upcoming events to provide inventory forecasting and purchase order recommendations on autopilot. They are backed by Techstars and the founders of Klarna, Checkout, and Nuxe. Good afternoon Youri! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Hello! So, I'm Youri and I grew up in Belgium until I finished high school. I then moved to London to start a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics with Management & Finance at King's College. After that, I did a Master of Science in Operational Research (OR) at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). While doing my Master's degree I started working part-time at Satalia. The thought-leaders in artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and descriptive, predictive, prescriptive, and business analytics. I developed spoke systems for large enterprises and worked there for almost 4 years. During that time, I started as a Product & Business developer and then became the head of bespoke services. So basically, I was responsible for all of the technologies we were developing on-demand. Why did you study in the UK? I didn’t think the university system in Belgium was a great fit for me, I preferred the UK / US one. Because, to put it simply, you can enter pretty much any school or university in Belgium, but it's really tough to actually pass. Meanwhile, in the UK it's really tough to get in, but as soon as you get in you have a lot of extracurricular activities, a lot of social interest groups, and sports activities. This was something I loved and tried to do as much as I could. 💡You can find more details about Youri's qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on his 👉LinkedIn profile👈. What sparked your idea to create a concept like Prediko? At Satalia I met Nicolas Sabatier, who's a machine learning engineer. As part of the data science team, his role was to build predictive mathematical models for our clients, using the latest cutting-edge techniques such as deep learning or graphical modeling. Nicolas also had a background in Mathematics, Computer Science & Business Analytics (Machine Learning). Today, Nicolas is the co-founder and CTO of Prediko. 💡You can find more details about Nicolas' qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on his 👉LinkedIn profile👈. We worked together for several years, where we developed complex predictive systems for large legacy retailers. That's how we got exposed to how expensive these systems can be to be developed and a nightmare to implement. On the other hand, we were surrounded by a lot of e-commerce founders and realized these guys have a hard time planning their inventory correctly. They did complex sales and inventory plans on Excel, manually. Which is prone to errors and is time-consuming. So we thought that we could develop something, a tool, for the small to midsized businesses to create reliable forecasts and therefore optimized purchase orders or optimized inventory. And that is why we built Prediko. How do you guys divide the work? As the CTO of the company, Nicolas' in charge of all the technical development. On my side, I'm much more business and product-side-oriented. So I spend most of my time dealing with either customers or investors, nurturing the relationships. So, I'm in charge of the products, business, and design, and Nicolas of actually building the tool. It's only you two for the moment? Actually, we have just raised some money and we're going to grow our team now. We have already some freelancers and interns that are working with us. But no full-time employees right now. Talking about raising money... We've heard about a pitch you had in New York. What was that all about? We participated in a famous accelerator program, called Techstars in New York City. This was a 3-month program where we spent some time with mentors, investors, experts-in-residence, to help us accelerate the development of Prediko. The last week is called 'Demo Day', we presented our company in front of hundreds of investors. We couldn't do it in real life due to Covid so we had to do a demo or a video pitch. 🎥 You can rewatch the pitch by clicking the following link or watch it here through our Youtube channel: Learn more about Techstars ⭐ How do you see Prediko evolving? In terms of the biggest challenges... In terms of the first steps, we are becoming an inventory optimization platform for e-commerce brands. But slowly and surely we're creating forecasts as well as purchase orders on their behalf and putting that on autopilot. We don't want to be the place where we only create a purchase order for a company but also the platform where they can place the order and get it financed. This way we become an end-to-end supply chain partner for these e-commerce brands. It's a whole supply ecosystem where they will be able to create a purchase order on autopilot, then be able to place the order to their suppliers, and handle the communication internally. We really want to optimize every step of the way to make it a very streamlined supply chain process for these companies. Is the focus of Prediko mostly on the UK for the moment? We work with companies all over the world, but the focus right now is between the UK and France. We got some initial brands in the US as well. So I would say the UK, France, and the US right now. That's a pretty big market 😉🙈 Based in London, a pitch in New York but ended up in Brussels. How did you become partners with Nightborn? I was in the same school as David (Head of Design, Nightborn). When we first started working on Prediko, we needed branding, so I looked around and noticed that David recently started this company, so I contacted him to see if Nightborn could help us. Which they did, and did a great job with that. When we started working on the actual front-end development of the tool, there was nobody in a better position than Nightborn to know the branding, the looks, and the feel that we wanted to get. We came to them with a big request that needed to be done quite fast. They accepted it and promised they would deliver and they did. So honestly, they were available, understanding, but also the speed of the development was very good. So that's how we decided to work with Nightborn. Final words If this interview sparked your interest, feel free to check out the visual case study we made of Prediko on Instagram. 👉 Case study: Prediko👈 or check out their website at prediko.io
An interview with Nicolas Huskin, founder of HappiK.
Nicolas Huskin, HappiK's Founder and CEO, wants to free service voucher agencies of their administrative and mental burdens, allowing them to focus on what matters most: the satisfaction and well-being of their housekeepers and clients. This digital solution will optimize and simplify interaction and communication between 3 key players: the service voucher agencies, their employees, and their customers. HappiK's objective is to launch the first MVP this September after a long UX process and the creation of the app's first interactive prototypes. Tell us a bit about yourself, how was your journey before HappiK? With a master's degree in management from Solvay Business School, I began my career in banking as a business consultant. However, I'm a digital consultant by nature with 13 years of expertise. First as a project manager, then for years as a key account manager at Emakina. A Brussel-based digital agency, where I was working with clients to grow their business and brand value. I was managing strategic and commercial relationships for key international accounts, allowing me to have large accounts for which I could sell all available services. Online as offline, ranging from website and app development to social media to TV, radio, and much more. I was active in both B2B and B2C environments, giving me significant experience in a variety of sectors. By implying different technologies and complexities, I am known as a "digital Swiss knife". 😎 💡You can find more details about Nicolas' qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on his 👉LinkedIn profile👈. What sparked your idea to create a concept as HappiK? I came up with the idea after a personal experience two years ago. I was (and still am) a client of a service voucher agency, and I take care of this at home. At one point, we had 4 out of 5 replacements in 5 weeks. And you know how this works... You have to make an appointment with the agency, then you wait at home for the housekeeper to arrive, in order to give a roundabout and instructions on what must be done that day. But when it comes to replacements, you don't want to go into great depth. Following this process, you go to work, return home, and you have no idea what he or she has done. This means there's a significant lack of communication, which made me believe that something had to be done. The second trigger occurred when the service voucher agency where I was a client went bankrupt. When I found a new one, they told me I had to write everything down on a piece of paper to communicate with my housekeeper, whether it was a post-it note or a short note. As a "digital Swiss knife", I found it to be completely incompatible with my personality. In a manner of speaking, I got pain in my hand thinking about scribbling every time a housekeeper comes.😉 As a result, I was quick to realize that the communication was not entirely consistent. I'd like to communicate more effectively with both my agency and my housekeeper as a client. My to-do list must be digitally available, so that any replacement completely understands what to do on that particular day, where the materials and products are, etc... When and how did you decide to develop this idea? To start, I made an online survey through Quicksurveys (now Tolunastart) and began thinking about the functionalities. To understand the real customer needs I met multiple service voucher agencies to check whether I'm the only one with such frustrations or not. When this research showed there was a need and market potential, I approached La Maison de l'Entreprise (LME), a startup incubator based in Mons. Through them, I ended up at Digital Attraxion, a startup booster or accelerator. They're great for startups as they provide both funding and coaching. So I made my pitch to their committee and it was an instant success. With this acquired financial means and interest in my pocket, I started to realize that something was possible to create. As the next step, I started building a team. The manager of a service voucher agency in Brussels (Charles Verbruggen) had already called me immediately to say that he was very interested and wanted to join the project. Like me, he was convinced that the sector urgently needed digitization. Given his knowledge, this combination was ideal for me. Next to him, we completed the team with a former colleague from Emakina, a great developer with a lot of experience in product developments and startups (Gilles Coomans). Together we had all the necessary skills to embark on this exciting entrepreneurial adventure. What are your ambitions? HappiK is based in Mons, but the team is mainly based in Brussels. We are therefore currently mainly active in Brussels and Wallonia. By 2022 we also want to expand to Flanders. Today we mainly need to gain brand awareness. There are a few other 'players' on the market, for a market size of about 1500 service voucher agencies in Belgium. Mainly older players with a very large market share, but also with outdated technology, little innovation, and poor user experience. I strongly believe there's a market for us and that we can grow quickly because we are different in our approach. HappiK is a real assistant, simplifying the daily experience of all three actors: the housekeeper, the service voucher agency, and the client by delivering the right info at the right time for a smooth administrative process. And what about going abroad? Service voucher agencies are really something Belgian. In France, for example, they work a little differently. But as said this has little influence on us as we really want to sell ourselves as an assistant. So yes, abroad is definitely an ambition for us. Another ambition of HappiK is to expand to other professions and sectors with our assistant. B2B, such as maintenance of buildings or swimming pools maintenance, green services at municipal authorities, cleaning teams in company buildings, or syndics of apartments. With HappiK, planning, administration, communication, and division of tasks between the various actors can be much more efficient. In other words, we really see the potential of the assistant formula, because it's easily scalable. Wherever there is an orchestration of people needed, HappiK can help. Why and how did you become partners with Nightborn? Through a former colleague of mine at Emakina who had built an app together with David Souery, Co-Founder and Head of Design at Nightborn. He told me that David was a brilliantly smart and good guy. So I arranged a meeting, which I immediately had a good feeling about. Nightborn is young and dynamic, very available and accessible, and at competitive prices. In addition, they are located in Brussels, which was interesting to me, as certain criteria were met for obtaining a subsidy. Talk to me about the collaboration, what added value did Nightborn bring to HappiK? Nightborn was very actively involved, both in discussions with me as with the partner of the service voucher agency. They not only carried out their tasks but also contributed ideas to our story. In this way, they immediately understood the profession and the sector. In such meetings between startups, long discussions can sometimes take place about certain matters, because not everything is fixed or has already been decided. We must challenge everything because everything is solvable. As mentioned, one of their great strengths is that they are very available and reactive, that is their way of working. When you ask them a question, they immediately jump into action. Nightborn really delivers. 💡 Find out more about our process at Nightborn 👉nightborn.be/process👈 What are your biggest challenges in the coming years? The fact that our target group of housekeepers isn't the most digitized segment of the population is our major challenge. Also, they frequently don't speak our language, sometimes can not read, or simply don't have smartphones (because they cannot afford it or are reluctant to have one). In addition, it's very important for us to continue to offer a simple and straightforward User Experience (UX). Because it's a big challenge to make our application not too complex. Simplicity is our core value: very light, with colorful buttons and even emojis to simplify use for all. We understood that if it's too complex it will not be used. That's the difficulty... To keep it simple. The more you think, the more functionalities you want to add. And then the simplicity is lost. Final words If this interview sparked your interest, feel free to check out the case study we made of HappiK. 👉 Case study: Happik 👈 or check out their website at www.happik.be
5 reasons why your business needs an app
How much time a day do you spend on your phone? I bet many of you are doing it right now as you read this. Smartphones are used by 67% of the total population worldwide, it's part of our lives and strongly influences us. With near 490 million NEW social media users in 2020, mobile apps are getting bigger and bigger. If you need more arguments to convince you that your company needs a mobile app, here are a few that you should pay attention to. 👇 1. Offers new user experience (UX) By offering users new features, you enable them to achieve technological satisfaction by providing a product/service experience that meets their needs and insights. Through his smartphone, the user will be attracted to your service in an innovative, intuitive, and fast way. Making the experience more powerful and reassuring than if they were using the web. Moreover, your business will benefit from this utility, reducing the intermediaries between teams and customers. An application is a strategy that feeds your brand and contributes to a guaranteed ROI while building customer loyalty. 2. Offers added value and higher customer engagement Either a web or mobile application will add value to your product or service. An app can fill the users' needs because it will simplify the use and make it more pleasant. It's a great way to keep customers engaged with your business by encouraging them to browse through offers on an app rather than on a traditional website. 👉 Activate users with notifications, attract them to open the app, and get them to engage with others. The added value of creating an app will motivate customers to interact with the brand. Assume that your customer enjoys using your product or service. In that case, it will increase his confidence in ordering what you have to offer and provide you with data to help you to optimize the user experience. 3. Increases your brand awareness and visibility Building an application strengthens your brand awareness, creates a positive image, and increases visibility among customers. Studies have shown that the average user time spent is more than 4 hours a day. They spent 50% of their time on social media and communication apps. This demonstrates how you can use social media to influence online customers and boost your brand's visibility when launching an app. Thinking in terms of the user with great user interfaces (UI), customized for their needs and aligned with the brand identity, will generate interactions that drive customers to purchase or interact. A well-designed and easy-to-use application with attractive features will definitely raise awareness. 💡 We'll give you an example. Check out the UX, UI, and branding we did for 👉Easyllabus👈 4. Builds a robust database and catches customer insights Being a company and having a mobile application is becoming more common in today's world. As a brand/company, it's necessary to have a relevant and detailed database that allows you to meet your customers' needs. It's possible to collect more information and data about users, based on their behavior and occupation, by creating an application. The app and database will allow you to get to know your consumer and understand his needs, as well as improve the user experience by delivering the added value. 5. Contributes to the Marketing Strategy Building and coding a mobile app is a marketing strategy that is in tune with the zeitgeist, current trends, and user expectations. Using an application for marketing allows you to provide information about your brand, product, or services, showcase product listings, and deliver direct chats through push notifications. By doing this, you will create a connection with your customers and possible leads. A mobile application touches the heart of the target who interacts with the app. It isn't a marketing intrusion to talk about its product or service on its application, it's direct communication that provides sufficient information, reduces costs, and allows you to invest your money in a tailored app instead of external advertising. 💡 Obviously, as an app development agency, we provide these services 😉. Find out more 👉nightborn.be/services👈 Last word Given these reasons, you understand that if your business can gain customers by developing a mobile or web application, you should consider doing so and putting yourself on the road to success. On the other hand, it isn't necessary if your business and customers don't require it. Building apps isn't only useful for external users and customers, but also for businesses. It will allow a B2B company to work more efficiently, not only for the sake of customer insights but also to enhance the way your team works. 🙌🏻 If you liked this article, you might also like: 15 ways to promote your app for free 💸 How to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency? 🤔 How Cross-Platform Development Improves Client Experience and Satisfaction 🧙🏻♂️
Interview with Antoine Cariat - Founder of Easyllabus
Antoine, thank you for joining us today, can you tell us a bit about your background before Easyllabus? My name is Antoine Cariat, and I'm 25 years old. In terms of education, I studied foreign trade at EPHEC for three years. Then I did a one-year master's degree at ICHEC in business science. That's my educational background. I launched Easyllabus while I was still a student, thanks to the ICHEC Start Lab, an incubator at my business school, which allowed me to get started. 💡You can find more details about Antoine's qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on his👉LinkedIn profile👈. What is Easyllabus? In a nutshell, Easyllabus provides educational podcasts based on the best course notes. Consisting of summaries or a combination of several. To put it simply, we started with the observation that we remember much more information by listening than by reading, on average 2 to 3 times more. Additionally, with podcasts, you will be able to listen/study from anywhere and anytime. The third crucial aspect of Easyllabus is that we focus on summarized lecture notes, synthesis, and thus condensed content, allowing you to learn a huge amount of information in a short amount of time. How did you come up with the idea of creating Easyllabus? It's a story I tell everyone, and even though it's very "storytelling", it's the truth! It was on Erasmus in Bologna in 2016, and I had hundreds of pages to study. I thought to myself, if I had all these pages in audio format, I might remember the material faster and in greater quantities. I put it to the test, and it worked. It enabled me to pass my exams. I figured that other students might be interested in this solution. So I gave it a shot and it caught on very quickly. And that's how we started. 🚀 What gave you the confidence to launch this concept? In all honesty, when you launch a business project, you aren't confident of anything. You start because it's in you and you love it. So, I had no idea if it would work. But... does it work? I don't know yet. it's still uncertain at the moment, so we'll see. But of course, we absolutely want it to work because we are driven by this desire to make things happen and because we have this good idea. And after receiving the first positive feedback, we continue to push ourselves, because I believe that's what gives us the confidence to keep going. How do you find good summaries? It may seem rudimentary, but we basically go through student Facebook groups. In Belgium, there are several Facebook groups for all faculties, universities, and academic years. So we go through these groups and try to locate the "heads of the class" who publish the strongest summaries with a lot of engagement on their work. We contact these individuals and ask if we may use their resumes to create audio capsules. After several hundred requests, we have never had a refusal because it's a matter of pride, which is normal. Because it's work they produce that is valued. The next step, to make it very, very, very short... is that we send these raw text products to our production team, consisting of more or less twenty people, who will recite these texts and send the audio clips back to us. After that, we publish them on our application. Who is behind Easyllabus? Me and my partner Julien Romain, who has been helping us for several months, for whom we are very proud to have. Also, my sister, who doesn't work full-time for us, because it's not her main job, but assists us a lot. The Nightborn team is of course also essential to the project's success. After looking around for a while we landed on this incredible team. We are really thrilled to collaborate with them because they are a godsend. 💡 Meet this team! 💪🏻 We also have a few interns from time to time, but the long-term goal is to hire as many people as possible in order to make the project grow exponentially. In your opinion, what are the most significant challenges to be met in the following months or years? The biggest challenge for Easyllabus, as far as we can determine at this stage, would be to close our fundraising before the summer or at the start of the next school year. Then, for more practical goals, we'd like to launch what we call the "native" or "boosts", which would allow any student to upload an educational capsule on any subject, thereby opening up the platform to multiple countries. That's the clear objective. The next step would be the internationalization of our core concept, which is internally producing content and trying to make the knowledge far more accessible than it is now. This is our long-term global vision. Why and how did you become a partner of Nightborn? To be fair, it's an old contact I had with Maxime Denuit, Co-Founder and Head of Development at Nightborn. He did the ICHEC when I was in my first year at ICHEC, about six years ago. Maxime had then stopped to start development. Afterward, when I saw a publication on LinkedIn, I saw his face and thought to myself "well, this is what he has become." I started to get genuinely interested in Nightborn. Visually, I think their work is very beautiful. They seemed to be doing an excellent job, so we contacted each other. Apart from just the visual aspect, we actually matched on many concepts. So yeah, in the beginning, it was all about their good-looking works, which might be a bit silly. But when we met and exchanged ideas, we realized that they were very complementary to everything else as well. We have the same mentality, with a pretty young team with whom we can exchange. What added value has Nightborn brought to Easyllabus? Compared to other companies, I believe Nightborn's added value is multilayered: on the one hand, the visual aspect and understanding of the users of the generation we want to target. Everything related to UX/UI is very much put forward at Nightborn. Secondly, the responsiveness! Maybe this is a special treatment that we receive, (because I'm not sure how the following customers will be treated 😉), but it's wonderful. As soon as we have a question, we can ask them. They usually answer within 10 minutes at most. That's essential for us, especially for a very demanding person like me. So I would say that, in addition to the execution, the end result is also incredible. In short, everything is perfect. 💡 What kind of services does Nightborn provide? 👉nightborn.be/services👈 If you can give one piece of advice, which one would it be? If I had to suggest one thing, Even though the deadlines were pretty much respected, you have to realize that developing an application, or any other development, takes time. The expectations we set in terms of time are often unrealistic. We must strive to assume that these deadlines will not always be met and persuade ourselves that, whatever happens, it will take more time. By the way, this is applicable to all agencies, not only Nightborn. Because time is stretched from the moment we change things. And we, customers, often change our moods, desires, and thoughts. A final word? To anyone who might be interested in collaborating with Nightborn: please contact them! They are extremely responsive, and I believe they will be a good fit for your goals. They didn't pay me to say this 😅, but they're amazing, top-notch, and perfect, and you should definitely consider working with them! 👇 The interview (in French) is now available on our brand new Nightborn-Youtube channel as well. It's our first video. 🥳 If this interview sparked your interest, feel free to check out the case study we made of Easyllabus. 👉 Case study: Easyllabus👈 or check out Easyllabus.be.
Meet Pascal, who founded Galea to conquer the gaming and E-sports industry
The E-sports industry is constantly evolving due to digital and technological growth. Pascal Vanderhaegen and Co-Founder Eliott Brown understood this and jumped on the trend by launching Galea, a platform that allows gamers to create their own video game tournaments. The goal of Nightborn was to digitalize their project and develop a web application. Pascal, thank you for joining us today to tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your day-to-day function in the company? Prior to launching the startup, I have evolved in different positions such as franchisor and sales manager in insurance companies. I currently serve as the CEO of Galea. Our decision-making team consists of two managers, my partner and Co-Founder, Eliott, and myself. 💡You can find more details about Pascal's qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on his👉LinkedIn profile👈. What sparked your idea to set up a web application? In 2017, when both of us were working aside, we founded a non-profit association (an ASBL). this allowed us to host Facebook events centered around video games, primarily FIFA. The NPO was a huge hit in Belgium, so we decided to professionalize the idea and build it around a platform that would be accessible to everyone. We wanted to centralize everything around this platform so that we would no longer be depending on third-party services like Facebook or Challonge, web tools that impose too many constraints on us. Our goal is obviously to strengthen our brand. Was it a request from the community to launch an app? We've always fought to give our community the best possible user experience (UX) and the goal was to go through this direction by launching an app, it's part of improving the user experience. At the moment we are at an early stage with a bêta version, we still have some way to go in order to achieve our full potential but we are confident. Even if for now we have not reached the best UX yet, it’s already more pleasant than when we were tinkering for the gamers ourselves. What was the most motivating factor to become partners with Nightborn? Basically, we're not developers at all, we don't code and when we had the ambition to launch a technological platform, we only had two options: Hire developers Turn to a specialized agency We went through Startup Factory, an incubator that believed in our project and wanted to invest in our startup. Then, after several proposals from other agencies, we got in touch with Nightborn in a natural way, since they are an SF partner. We decided to collaborate with them to build the Galea app. We liked the proximity: even before entering into formal negotiations we met, exchanged ideas, they also had studied our project in order to have a sketch already elaborated. 💡 Find out more about our services at Nightborn 👉nightborn.be/services👈 What can you tell us about the collaboration with Nightborn? We are very happy with the way the relationship with Nightborn is going. They're very transparent with their customers, we're constantly briefed on any delays or misunderstandings that might occur. When we work with an external agency, we know they have their own economic reality and that they don't think about us day and night, but we have a sufficient level of tolerance. It is inspiring to work with an agency that prioritizes proximity and flexibility. 💡 Find out more about our process at Nightborn 👉nightborn.be/process👈 With a team like theirs, you get the feeling that they are a part of the Galea business, even though they just develop what we ask them to develop. Yet they don't hesitate to challenge us. They are not colleagues, but you can call them at 10 p.m. on Sunday and they will be available. 💡 Meet this team! 💪🏻 What positive evolution have you seen from starting a Facebook page to the development of an app? We noticed a lot of interesting feedback from point zero to now, but it's still too early to talk about improvement. For us, thanks to this web application, we spend 5 minutes doing what used to take us 2 hours, managing tournaments. It allows us to focus on making progress in order to achieve Galea's final product. But when it comes to the customer, we have a long-term vision. For the time being, it doesn't change much for the gamers who used the other tools (Facebook, Challonge). Today, the only added value for users is the automation of the platform, which makes it more accessible. Did you have any concerns when you launched the app? When you first launch an app, you have a utopian vision in your head that it will automatically revolutionize everything without any effort on your part, but this is not the case. In fact, the user doesn't care if you're working on something or if it doesn't have all of the features of another app. So we were worried it wouldn't work out the way we hoped, but it did. The concerns were all about the organizations we'd be dealing with, whether it was Nightborn or another. We were afraid that at some stage, our interests would diverge, such as the agency's economic realities, deadlines, and so on. We learned that you had raised funds, where has this led you to and what does this mean for future Galea projects? We used Spreds to raise funds to cover platform development costs and ensure that we had sufficient liquidity to carry out all of our projects. We wanted to fulfill our ambition of developing a full web application. Our goal is to transform Galea into the reference platform for organizing E-sports tournaments around video games. What do you think are the biggest challenges that Galea will face in the next five years? We had this idea before Covid-19, but this pandemic has accelerated the digitization of all companies which means we're now facing quite robust competition. In our sector, there were two aspects of gaming: there were offline (physical) and online competitors, but today all the big players in the market who were on the offline side, have switched to the online side. Our objective for the next five years is to find the pearl that will make us take off! That's our main thought at the moment, to be able to differentiate ourselves from the others on the market given the strong rivalry. 🚀 Final words We want to thank Pascal for making time to answer all of our questions. Into gaming? Feel free to check Galea's website! 💡 More curious? Check out the case study 👉 case study 👈
Did you ever wonder how a Database really works ?
The invention of the hard disk, a high-capacity mass storage device, was used in 1956 to allow computers to collect, classify and store large volumes of data more flexibly and efficiently. In 1964, the term database appeared to designate a set of data shared by several users of a military information system. What is a database? A computerized database contains real-world information; it's a set of raw data stored on a server that can be modified or updated by a community of users via customer interfaces. The database management system (DBMS) stores structured data, which allows you to easily manipulate, organize, analyze, make queries and retrieve all of your data. Databases are used by many companies in all industries. They allow you to keep vital and confidential information. In order to manage a database, a SQL language is used. First, let's take a look at the DBMS DBMS = DataBase Management System As the name implies, DBMS is a universal software device for the management of the database, which allows users to enter, reclaim, modify, sort, or transform the information in a database. It interacts with an interface between the data and the software application. Many DBMSs offer tools such as monitoring, statistics, and so on... The DBMS is divided into four parts: SQL Motor —> performs file manipulations; it links the different record lines, transcribes them, and checks the data integrity. Catalog —> contains the description of our database. (the authorizations, information, and the names of the users) Control language —> manipulates database content. Query processor —> execute requests that the DBMS understands and provides necessary information requested by users. Some of the most used DBMS programs : SQL vs NoSQL The SQL (Structured Query Language) allows us to create very advanced queries based on multiple tables to retrieve the data we need to present to our users. SQL database, which we can also call DBMSR for relational, is a system based on tables (like Excel) with a predefined, structured, and strict pattern. Imagine a dealership database: one table for customers, one for the car they bought, and another one for the address of the dealership. NoSQL database stands for Not only SQL and is non-relational, everything functions as an "object" and it is managed to handle massive amounts of data. This database system was built to be scalable, flexible, and capable of handling both structured and unstructured, semi-structured, and polymorphic data. NoSQL database can also be called UnQL for Unstructured Query Language. Since NoSQL data has no formal schema, you can write anything you want for each record dynamically. To store and retrieve data, NoSQL relies on documents, key-value, graphs, and column-oriented databases. When to use SQL or NoSQL? Use SQL : If you don’t expect a lot of modifications or growth to your database. If you have complex databases or transactions because it will provide stable data. If there is no huge volume of data types. Use NoSQL : If new columns or functions are regularly added to the database. If your company is constantly growing. It's a matter of your business need. The main types of databases : Hierarchical: It is the oldest type of database Graph: There is no strict relation between each part, there are many ways to enter research. A type of NoSQL database that uses graph theory to store, map and query to establish a relation between data. Relational: The most used and known as SQL based on structured tables. Object-oriented: This is a type of relational database and it's called object-oriented because the data is stored in an "object" form. An object is a real-world item, such as a car or a serial number. Why would you have to use a database? Databases allow keeping the users' data, especially when there is a lot of data on customers, employees, and products. To be successful in business, this requires the use of an effective DBMS. Thanks to these, databases can optimize communication channels, customer satisfaction and experience can be improved and personalized. The purpose of having an adequate database allows you to create well-targeted marketing offers and adapt products and services according to the customers' behavior and needs. The data records allow for segmenting the information that favors a successful email and SMS campaign through well-defined criteria and relations elaborated for thousands or millions of potential customers. A good database will help in a company's growth. How it works at Nightborn At Nightborn, we use SQL Server, a Microsoft product. It allows us to store and extract data between software application systems. Since our main Back-End development is in .NET CORE, we use EntityFramework, a programming technology called ORM, Object-Relational Mapping. This ORM process allows us to develop quicker, reduces the code, and creates uniform objects. 💡 Read more about our services 👉nightborn.be/services👈 Conclusion In the era where personal data is the new gold, we believe it’s important to build secure databases for your application. We never underestimate data protection. Your database must be well-managed if you need to structure your data, analyze the volume, and track its evolution. Depending on the project, we’ll opt either for a SQL option (SQL Server) or a NoSQL option (MongoDB). If you liked this article, you might also like: How Nightborn created a challenging culture between designers and developers? 🙌 Flutter vs React Native: What are the differences? 🤔 Motion design is an essential step in the development of an app 👌 How Cross-Platform Development Improves Client Experience and Satisfaction 🤝
Interview with Shopplett - Your personal grocery shopper
Shopplett is an online platform where the customer can order groceries from its favorite bakery, butcher or supermarket,... A personal shopper does the groceries and delivers them where and when the customer wants them. It's a win-win situation for the customer, shopper, and the local merchant. Nightborn's goal was to help Shopplett digitize the "grocery industry" compared to how we know it today. Nikita, thank you for joining us today to tell us a little bit about yourself. Nice to meet you! I'm Nikita, full of ambition, enthusiasm, and energy. Always open to connecting with new people. Graduated as a business engineer, and with an extra Master in International Management & Strategy, I was ready to kick some ass at work. I'm currently following a Management Traineeship at Brussels Airport Company. However, the crisis brought another opportunity: Shopplett. 💡 You can find more details about Nikita's qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on her 👉LinkedIn profile 👈. I read on your LinkedIn page that you are the Co-Founder, what is your day-to-day function in the company? In April of last year, I founded Shopplett. But, since running a startup on my own was difficult at first, I quickly sought out reinforcements in the form of a co-founder. After a long search, I eventually met Viktor Van Eeckhoudt. Viktor is mainly concerned with the company's operational and financial aspects while, I'm primarily responsible for day-to-day management, marketing, and sales. What sparked your idea to set up a web application? As previously mentioned, I currently work for the airport, but due to Covid, I ended up at 30% temporary unemployment. Since I'm still too young to just sit at home and do nothing, I started asking myself "What is a problem that I regularly experience in this society?", "What bothers me?" That's how Shopplett came about. I found it annoying that it wasn't possible to do groceries at different shops, bakeries, butchers,… And apparently, I wasn't the only one who experienced this as a tricky issue. You can use Shopplett to place several orders at multiple shops. These groceries can be picked up at once, depending on your personal shopper. To give shape to my idea, I enrolled in the "Bryo StandUp" and "Bryo Bootcamp" programs, a VOKA course. They assist young entrepreneurs in developing business ideas. In group, we finalized my idea and looked for an elaboration. What do you think are the biggest challenges that Shopplett will face in the next five years? In the future, I'd like to scale up quickly. Shopplett's current focus is still on my own region, the Brussels suburbs. We'll be able to expand to other cities once that's been completed properly. We had to wait a long time for the government to grant us Peer 2 peer recognition, but we finally got it. Over the next five years, we want to be active in a number of European countries, adjusting to local cultures and needs as required. Since shopping is a universal activity that is not limited to big cities, such as Uber. We believe that once the lockdown is lifted, things will be much better than they are now. Everyone was reluctant to come out during the first lockdown. Now everyone has time, shopping is seen as a break from homework. People have more time to prepare a shopping list or go shopping. When the 'rush' of normal life returns, we believe Shopplett will be even more popular. This is an activity that people would happily outsource. How did you become partners with Nightborn? Which aspects of Nightborn appealed to you the most to work together? When I founded Shopplett, I immediately began searching for an application agency that could help me create a professional website. This quest proved to be extremely difficult. Typically, these businesses were either very expensive or didn't take part in my story, that's why I began my quest within my own network. I ended up at Nightborn because I went to school with Maxime (co-founder of NB). The collaboration is still going strong, and we're pleased with the results. The quality of Nightborn's price is excellent. 💡 Find out more about our process at Nightborn 👉nightborn.be/process👈 Can you specify what added value Nightborn offered to Shopplett? What can you tell us about the collaboration with Nightborn? The challenge for Shopplett and Nightborn was to create an instinctive web application in order to allow an optimal connection between the customer and the local store. Nightborn opted for a simple process and created a web application on which you just have to register and enter your address to find your favorite businesses to place your order. When I went shopping, I realized that I had no idea which brand to buy or which expiration dates to consider. Customers have also called me immediately when they forgot to put anything on their shopping list. As a result, Nightborn has included these features in Shopplett. They were also in charge of designing the logo and branding, which included colors, fonts, a website, and a platform. The Nightborn team was heavily involved in the development process. They took the time to understand our needs in terms of functionality and design. We've been able to provide continuous feedback throughout the entire process. 💡 What kind of services does Nightborn provide? 👉nightborn.be/services👈 Were you positively surprised on certain points? Did you have fears? Since I already knew Maxime, Nightborn and I had a trusting relationship from the start. These expectations have undoubtedly been achieved in a positive manner. Final Words Despite having a seemingly simple application, Shopplett will rapidly become essential. In Flanders, the app already has quite a few users and is planning to expand. Hopefully, Shopplett and Nightborn's efforts to this project will soon pay off. If this article sparked your interest, feel free to check out the case study we made of Shopplett. 👉 Case study: Shopplett👈 of check out Shopplett's website.
MediCheck and Nightborn, a successful collaboration
On Monday the 24th of November 2020 we interviewed Amélie Meunier, Co-founder of MediCheck, a fast-growing startup that helps companies constructively tackle the issue of absenteeism by developing a new solution, the "Check", which is both fully digital and respectful for employees. Can you tell me something more about yourself? What's your day-to-day function in the company? I'm one of the founders of Medicheck. In the beginning, I was in charge of the operations and made sure that our clients' Checks all went according to plan. Now that we have an entire lovely team dedicated to this, I'm responsible for the digitalization of the activity. 💡 You can find more details about Amélie's qualifications, employment history, education, skills, and experience on her 👉LinkedIn profile 👈. What sparked your idea? It was Startup Factory, a Brussels-based studio dedicated to building and incubating new ventures, that first worked on the idea and launched the project. They looked for entrepreneurs to carry it out and first hired Jean Rifflart (CEO) and then me. How did Startup Factory contact you and your team? Actually, it was pretty random. I had just finished studying and Startup Factory contacted me through angel.co to set up an interview. I met the team and started working with them the next day! What's Medicheck’s mission and what do you think are the biggest challenges MediCheck will face in the next 5 years? Our mission is to change and disrupt the activity of medical control to make it more humane and positive towards employees and more efficient for companies. To me, our biggest challenge is not losing our amazing quality of service as we grow. And Nightborn is helping us with that! 🤝 How did you end up becoming a partner with Nightborn and can you specify what added value Nightborn offered to MediCheck? I was lucky enough to meet Nightborn through word of mouth. We are a digital company and we wanted to have a digital process from A to Z in the execution of our operations. Nightborn thus helped us build an internal tool that would allow us to do just that. We now have a powerful custom back-office in React and Electron that drastically decreased our operation time, jumping from 20 min to 5 min per 'Check' if all goes well. Nightborn also helped us with a digital solution for our client companies and collaborating doctors to allow them to send us the Checks’ data digitally. Which aspects of Nightborn appealed to you the most to work together? The fact that they were both quite young. In theory, this can be seen as a disadvantage, but in practice, I knew that we were going to be able to communicate easily. And communication is key! 🗝️ 💡 Meet our team! 💪🏻 What can you tell me about the collaboration with Nightborn? How did the process go, to get to the finished product? We work with a pretty standard process: we document the requirements and create some wireframes that we send to Nightborn. They work their magic and, after lots of testing, we end up with what we want! 🧙♂️ 💡 Find out more about our process at Nightborn 👉nightborn.be/process👈 Were you positively surprised on certain points? I wasn't expecting anything but the best, so I wasn't particularly surprised when that was what I got 😉. They have always been very professional, they overdeliver and are completely implicated in the project! We have been collaborating for more than a year now and we loved every minute of it. Final words We want to thank Amélie for making time to answer all of our questions. If this article sparked an interest for you, feel free to check out the case study we made of MediCheck: 👉 Case study: MediCheck👈
Motion design is an essential step in the development of an app
What is Motion Design? Not familiar with the term Motion Design? You should. It's just as important as putting garlands on a Christmas tree. If you look around, Motion Design is everywhere. It is referred to as visual art, graphic elements that allow the creation of animation and micro-interaction. A Motion Design can be a text, image, form, or logo that comes to life and transforms into a dynamic illustration. It's used as a 2D / 3D / 4D animations and app development agency, use Motion Design to improve UI / UX. Otherwise, it's entertainment such as cartoons, short films, and even TV advertising/commercials. There are several options for improving the user experience (UX) with Motion Design, such as the way a mobile or web app scrolls, the CTA, the app's instructions, or even the content. ©Tabbar designed by Pierre De Moor - UI & Motion designer for Nightborn ©Downloadbutton designed by Dmitry Lauretsk for Ronas IT-UX/UI team ©Purchasebutton designed by Aaron Iker - UI designer The reason for creating Motion Designs is to bring an application to life, simplify it, and illustrate a message in order to make it easier and more fun to use. Motion Design serves a marketing and commercial purpose for developers and designers, with the aim of promoting a product. It offers users a much more dynamic and friendly experience, which is what keeps a brand alive in the long run. It's beneficial to both users and businesses. ©TaxiApp designed by Atuka - Product designer for UBANI 💡 Want to read more about how design can benefit your business? 👉 https://nightborn.be/blog/using-design-improves-your-business-performance Why is it essential? Motion Design is a necessity in the digital world! Don't release mobile/web apps without creating micro animated graphics as it will give a cheap impression of your product. Working on Motion Design is a time investment that will pay off on multiple levels. Technically, those animated graphics increase traffic and raise awareness by modernizing the brand image, which can help you promote your app more effectively. It's a useful technology regardless of your industry; whether your service/product is for B2B, B2C, or internal use, it'll be just as efficient. Because some of the content is highlighted and more noticeable, engagement and audience growth will be a result of Motion Design. To create successful Motion Designs, the work has to be more attractive than static images, it has to grab the audience's attention. Nowadays, 2.0internet users are looking for fast internet content, as they are in a hurry to discover everything at once. That's yet another reason why Motion Design is a reasonable solution for engaging and interacting with people of all ages, from children to the elderly. It simplifies comprehension so that people are more likely to click on motion content, and it can be defined using 3 clear-cut adjectives: Approachable - appreciable - memorable ©Tabbar micro-interaction designed by Pavan Jharang Motion Design has its way in marketing strategies. It enables more fluid and playful communication to get closer to our target, delivering a direct and straightforward message. It's the kind of commercialization that enhances the user experience on websites and applications. In addition to that, it reduces the frustrations when technical problems appear, it animates the waiting, the bugs and it entertains. ©Buttonanimation designed by Aaron Iker - UI designer 💡Wondering how to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency, read about it?👉https://nightborn.be/blog/how-to-choose-the-best-app-development-agency In short, here are 5 benefits of creating Motion Design Looking for effective communication? Explain it with Motion Design ©TaskEzapp - Productivity app iOS UI kit - Anton Tkachev for UI8 Promote a product/service and raise awareness with Motions ©Weatherly motion design by mr.alidoost for Piqo Create emotional reactions from the users ©BrandingCameraButton by Javier Oliver Educate about your brand/concept, product ©BoxingApp by Flexy Global Teach how to use the app with Motion Design ©SmartHomeAppMotion - 3D design by Mehdi Rezaee for Piqo Recommended tools to create motion designs Adobe Illustrator (Create illustration) Cinema 4D (paid) / Blender (free) —> 3D/4D visuals After Effect ( Animate visuals) Last word The Motion Design will be determined by the company's or campaign's objectives, but keeping in mind that catching attention and raising awareness is required, it will help to create undefeated moving illustrations. The more animations that are natural, effortless to understand, and rendered with smooth transitions, the more enjoyable it will be for the user experience. Next time you scroll on your phone, pay more attention! Because notifications, GIFs, and short videos are Motion Designs: regular actions turned into delightful moments 😉 ©DownloadAnimation designed by Yeasin Arafat - UI designer for Halal Lab Don't hesitate to look at our other blog posts!👉https://nightborn.be/blog👈
Flutter vs React Native: What are the differences?
How we used React, Gatsby, and Prismic to create a high-end and well-polished website
How can design benefit your business?
You have a competitive advantage among businesses thanks to ‘design thinking’, which is often underestimated in the business world. Traditionally it’s thought of as part of a creative team that creates branding elements like logos or ads. But the importance of design goes beyond the creative team and opens up valuable opportunities for businesses which can bring some significant benefits. It helps businesses better identify, understand, and address their problems. The research and prototype stages of design can generate new product ideas and allow you to discover your customer’s needs and preferences. It can then help you turn your ideas into innovative and competitive products and services that are suitable for your market. For some businesses, design thinking may feel chaotic. But the use of tools, such as visualizations, travel mapping, storytelling, and rapid prototyping, is a way to develop beyond your previous ability and step towards something new. Using design improves your business performance 📈 Design can offer a variety of business advantages, including increased sales, enhanced market position, brand identity, and the ability to develop innovative products and services. If used systematically, design can bring value to products and services, and open up new markets. It's a powerful source of differentiation between you and your competitors because customers are willing to pay more for well-designed products that can provide them with advantages such as greater usability, enhanced features, and better looks. Design cultivates a positive brand identity Graphic design provides a "face" that helps identify and promote your business. It gives you an instant image of what your business is like, provided by your company’s logo, website layout, and marketing materials. Positive brand identity also leads to more satisfied, productive employees because they embrace and commit to the identity of the company, and are proud to be a part of it. Make sure your brand identity is used consistently throughout your company because inconsistency in your various business applications will make your company appear sloppy and unprofessional. Design has the ability to express complicated messages much faster than words can, and will enable the organization to move effectively into this new age of straightforward, high-speed communication. Design as part of your business strategy Design covers much more than just the outward appearance, it plays a part in nearly every aspect of what most businesses do. It can be used to benefit your business in many less obvious ways since it’s also about managing your business processes as cost-effective as possible. Successful businesses include design as part of their business strategy from the beginning, resulting in a better offering and a better customer experience. Good design is collaborative. It gathers inspiration from everywhere and asks an entire team for input. A "collective experience" where people with different perspectives develop new ideas to problems. You can use design more strategically by pinpointing where and how design is currently being used within your business or identifying ways of improving this design process, for example by using a professional design consultant. In addition, you could start searching for areas where design opportunities are missing and ensure that design considerations are featured in all your business planning meetings and documents. Using design to improve product development A big advantage of design thinking is that it focuses on the end-user. Whether it's about creating new technology or a new method of project management. An important starting point in developing competitive products and services is to obtain market and design-led user research on what your customers want. Fresh design will keep your customers engaged, whether it's a new product or a website redesign, and help you compete with the competition. Customer preferences will change, so the customer observation, trend analysis, and prototyping that are part of the design process can help you keep in touch with your market. Use design to appeal to new customers and new markets. Product development shouldn’t only be focused on existing customers, it can also be used to target new customers and move into new markets. Businesses can use design in a variety of ways to appeal to new customers and build new markets. They can design prototype products, or develop your business brand through packaging, graphics, and customer communication, and create products that integrate trend research that anticipates and fulfills customer’s needs. Design can also help you expand into foreign markets, perhaps by complying with different technical standards or by tailoring a product or its packaging to preferences in your target market. The design process should be managed like any other business process The design process should start by clearly defining the intent and the aim of the project, such as raising brand awareness. The key is to coordinate those involved, such as designers, and managers, with an insight into the project requirements. Work with a professional designer that understands what your business needs, and keep the focus on what your customers want. You must ensure that your departments of development, marketing, and sales are prepared for any new product, service, or branding that you create and set a budget and a timetable with measurable objectives. When the process is done, it will allow you to run future design projects much more smoothly by gathering as much feedback as possible from those involved. Maximize the success of your design projects Creating prototypes or sketches and gaining feedback early in the process may lead to major breakthroughs and new ways of doing things. Since it keeps feedback flowing early, it allows strategy developers to use that input in their process, which prevents companies from wasting a lot of time and resources on options that won't succeed. In any design project you pursue, you should set specific targets for evaluating its progress. For example, if you design a new product or new website interface, the main benchmark for its success will be decided by its market results. Customer responses are a critical factor. When judging the quality of your project, there is a wide variety of additional factors to consider. Did aspects of the design process go over budget? If deadlines were missed, was it because they were unrealistic, or were the delays avoidable? Did poor communication hinder cooperation between you and your designer? When setting your goals, be specific, and check the dates. The more specific you are in what you require the more likely you are of reaping the return you want on your design investments. After a design project is finished, review it to see what lessons can be learned, this will make it easier to ensure the success of future projects. Don't look at individual design projects in isolation, it may take a series of design investments to build on each other to achieve your ultimate goals. Final words! If you liked this article, feel free to share it. Get in touch if you have any questions or any examples you want to share. If you liked this article, you might also like: Why you should consider an MVP and how to create an effective one How cross-platform development improves client satisfaction Why is prototyping crucial for your digital product?
Why is prototyping crucial for your digital product?
The "design process" of a product, from a concept to a product's physical existence, is something the customer rarely thinks about. Digital Product Designers have to make sure that the product is loved by their potential customers. That their solution is going to meet the needs of the client just as they imagined. By developing a prototype of your solution, you're able to validate your concept. In this way, before wasting money on creating a product that probably wouldn’t work the way you've expected, you can make the required adjustments. You will never be completely sure that you will succeed if you don't show your product to your potential customers. So what exactly are prototypes? You will see 'prototyping' listed more and more as a necessary skill for a Digital Product Designer when scrolling through design positions on LinkedIn, no matter whether it is for UX or UI. Prototypes are early mock-ups of a proposed product. Through the development of a tangible prototype, designers and investors can physically feel and see the outcome, understand its functionality, and refine the product based on feedback. The key point to emphasize is that the prototype is not the final product, but a 'beta version' instead. Prototyping is a beta version of the product to test with and to be learned from. Without involving a developer, you can mock up any view and interaction so that it can be experienced the same way as a fully developed product. In your app, you can demonstrate all the features you want to incorporate, validate your concept, and verify the overall UX strategy. Depending on your needs and the project process you choose, the purpose of a prototype can vary. Different prototypes You're only restricted by your imagination when it comes to creating a prototype. In general, there are two sorts of prototypes: low fidelity (low-fi) and high fidelity (hi-fi) ones. Low fidelity prototypes When you want to try out a general idea, low fidelity prototypes should be generated to see if your customers understand the product's concept and functionality. These are very simple and inexpensive to make and as the final result is not feasible, you should not focus too much on your prototype's 'looks'. Instead of getting distracted by the UI, the lack of colors and nice designs help individuals focus on the tasks they are assigned. At this point, validating your concept is the priority, you get more useful feedback when you remove external factors. The fact that it is low fidelity, and therefore a draft version, often makes individuals trust in sharing their thoughts without thinking about hurting anyone's feelings. “Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology.” - Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) An example of low fidelity prototypes are wireframes, they are a rough visual representation of your concept. In low-fi wireframes you don't have to concentrate on issues like copying or ideal images, you can use patterns that are recognizable and understandable for your target users. The primary objective is to evaluate the app's flow and general conduct. With a low-fi wireframe, you can test out a concept, flow, or interaction and reuse it later on while creating the final UI. High fidelity prototypes It is definitely worth considering creating hi-fi prototypes, particularly if you want to see your proposed product "in real life" and test your app's interactions and UI elements. Customers won't see a difference between your prototype and a real product if a hi-fi prototype is done right. So keep in mind that if your product serves its purpose, testing it might be the ultimate solution. It will also be more meaningful to get feedback on a hi-fi prototype because people wouldn't have to imagine looking at it, everything would be right in front of them. Depending on what you want to test out and what sort of action it's intended to imitate, you can create semi-interactive prototypes or fully interactive ones. Don't be afraid of using various tools and combining different media. As long as it serves your purpose. Which tools are the best to create such a prototype? Ask yourself a few questions. Do you want to design and build a completely interactive prototype, so that your product can be simulated in a real-life situation? Do you want to clarify and test your concept on real users? Or do you want to check if your users will be suitable for the created UI? The general rule will be: for more advanced prototypes you have to use more advanced software to imitate a real-life product. Simple tools: Pen & paper Post-it notes Printed out templates Keynote Balsamiq InVision More advanced tools: Figma InVision Studio Framer Principle Adobe XD Axure Flinto UXPin Marvelapp The main advantages of creating a prototype Significantly reduce errors in design Design teams can make improvements early by using prototypes, minimizing additional time and costs. Because, if a product is near completion, it will produce more work and raise the budget by making some drastic adjustments. If you follow agile methodologies like us at Nightborn, prototyping is even more beneficial as you can kickstart your story's requirements at this early stage. Of course, your prototype has to be tested in high fidelity for final requirements. “Vision starts with a firm foundation and carries through with design principles” — Lexi Thorn & Scott Maywood-Bryant (ANZ) Prototypes allow user testing "User testing" offers useful input about its product to designers. Because each product has a target audience, and the audience is going to have the final say at the end of the day. The design team will make alterations early on with their insights. This will help you find your product issues before you spend any time in high fidelity or code. “User-centered design means working with your users all throughout the project” - Donald Norman As stated above, there are many programs and software to create prototypes, but there is also software to extensively test these prototypes. Maze.design (or Maze) for example is such a program, this is also used with us at Nightborn. Maze is a user testing platform that brings actionable insights into the design process. Maze can run tests with prototypes for desktop, mobile, or tablet applications made in Figma, InVision, Sketch, Marvel, and Adobe XD. You just need to copy and paste the link into Maze. The tests are with actual users and gain qualitative insights you can act on instantly, The overall understanding of the design is enhanced by prototypes You get an opportunity to work on a tangible artifact together with your team, which will lead to better ideas being generated. Creating any product involves a team of designers who can communicate their ideas and concepts with each other effectively. It’s a useful reference for your developers. Prototypes services help illustrate the final product, allowing the design team to comprehend the product’s function, and target audience. It’s also easier to provide feedback and see whether the product has a specific limitation. Prototypes ensure that their function is fulfilled by the product they are making. Because a small change in proportions can make a big difference and alter a product's look and function completely. Prototypes are attractive features for investors A product is meant to be designed for consumers. It’s normal for a product to hit financial patches and require an expanded budget. Investors are not interested in investing money on a design that once it's produced it "could" work. They want the product in its physical form to be seen. That's why having a prototype is an appealing feature if a product needs additional investment. Do it now! Ready to create your interactive prototype? Be sure to check out this extensive guide for improving UX of your product and why you should consider an MVP and how to create an effective one? “Fail often so you can succeed sooner” - Tom Kelley, best-selling author of Creative Confidence, The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation as well as a partner at the renowned design and innovation consultancy IDEO. There’s nothing more true than that. Creating a prototype will expose your failures and lead you to a much brighter future and success. It opens your eyes to things you haven’t thought of and gives you new design perspectives. The point of this article is to highlight the importance of validating your ideas quickly and communicating effectively with colleagues and stakeholders. Final words! If you liked this article, feel free to share it. Get in touch if you have any questions or any examples you want to share. If you liked this article, you might also like: How Nightborn created a challenging culture between designers and developers? 🙌 How Cross-Platform Development Improves Client Experience and Satisfaction How to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency?
How Cross-Platform Development Improves Client Experience and Satisfaction
In the past few years, a new trend has been increasingly present in more than one sphere of the programming world, but more specifically in desktop and mobile applications. It was the birth of cross-platform development and with it came a set of tools to help software engineers create programs and applications faster than ever. An impressive number of major players in the industry have also been making the switch, both Facebook and Google have been developing, maintaining, and using open-source cross-platform tools. Today, we're here to talk about how this new way of thinking can drastically improve the satisfaction of your clients towards your products in various ways. What exactly does cross-platform mean? "Cross-platform" is a term used to refer to any program or application capable of being executed on more than one computing platform with a single code base. An example of this could be a game built to support Android, iOS, or even Linux. Such projects often require a specific toolset to help programmers in their cross-platform journey in addition to all the usual stuff, such as: Unity - for game development Electron - for desktop applications React Native - for mobile applications You might be asking yourself, what do they have in common? That's a fair question to have at this point, so I'll answer it for you; All of the tools listed above aim to provide you with a single API on top of the platform-specific implementation to save you from dealing with all the differences between them. This approach is incredibly powerful as it allows almost anyone with basic programming knowledge to write applications that can run on as many platforms as supported by their tool of choice. How does it compare to native development? There are three types of development, native, hybrid, and cross-platform. Native development usually involves having different teams for each platform you need to support since each of them has its own language and environment. As you can probably guess, there are a few downsides to this more "traditional" approach to development. First things first, having multiple teams will inherently require every feature or fix to be implemented separately by each of them. In a world where communication is perfect, that would not be a problem at all but in reality, this can lead to subtle differences in the user interface (UI) and business logic between platforms. This can then lead to incoherent branding and hard to track bugs, to help the situation you'd need to have a strongly established quality assurance (QA) process and efficient testing in place. Note that this piece of advice applies to all projects but is often overlooked by smaller companies because of a lack of budget and/or time. Another pain point of native development is the fact that a single feature may take a different amount of time to complete depending on the platform. Let's say you would like to migrate your Android and iOS apps to use Material Design, a UI pattern invented by Google. This task would be quite a lot easier to achieve for your Android team as most of the built-in UI components are already compliant with the Material Design spec whereas your iOS team would need to spend a lot more time on customization and research. This means that the deadline that will be given to your client will be entirely dependent on the iOS side of things. Cross-platform development aims to solve exactly this kind of difference between ecosystems by allowing developers to only write one application that will work and look the same on all platforms. Of course, you can still choose to implement things differently per platform, if needed. What about hybrid applications? Another great question, I'll start by explaining how they differ from the other types of apps we've discussed so far. To truly understand the differences, we first need to define what "hybrid" actually means. A hybrid application usually starts out as a plain old website, which is then run inside a mobile and/or desktop container via "WebView". This solution can be a very time and cost-efficient approach for businesses with an already established, mobile-friendly website, as tools like Cordova will allow them to release a version of their website to be installed directly on their users' devices very quickly. I addition to this, applications built this way have access to most of the native device APIs, this can range from retrieving geolocation to taking photos and reading messages. To summarize hybrid apps are written just like any other website or web app, meaning one can use any language or framework supported by modern browsers but also have access to additional features similar to native apps, hence the name. This is an incredible way for a team of web-focused developers to leap into the mobile world without any prior experience. However, like any other technology, it is not perfect. As I said previously, hybrid apps are run inside of a "WebView" which is essentially a web browser that is embedded inside the app. Let's take the basic example of navigation in a native application, be it Android or iOS. Both platforms have different animations and gestures which can be used to move around through an app, right? Hybrid apps will not have any of those and will behave and look like a website, meaning there will be no transitions or gestures between pages. This can be a deal-breaker for some as it may feel odd and uninviting to the end-users who are very used to all these mechanisms. How can hybrid and cross-platform development benefit both my company and my clients? Most of the advantages that cross-platform development can provide will not only benefit your company but also your employees and clients. It will allow you and your team to have only one code base to focus on, which means less manpower and time spent per project. Clients will love this as it will help reduce costs and turnaround time for feature requests or bug fixes up to fifty percent. The main point to be made for cross-platform development is the vastly superior developer experience it can bring. Most tools now offer a mechanism called "hot reload" which lets you see changes on screen as you write them. This is not possible with native applications as all the code needs to be recompiled, bundled, and installed on every change. This can be very time consuming, especially on low-end computers on which this whole process could take anywhere between two and five minutes. Another often overlooked aspect of cross-platform mobile apps is the ability to release over the air updates instantly, without going through the tedious review process of both Apple and Google Play which can sometimes take up to a full week. With services such as App Center by Microsoft, you'll be able to host the shared application code online and update it as needed (only when native code is not involved), and push it to your users in a matter of minutes. Which approach is best for my business? Here's how I would summarize the above points to help you make the decision that will most positively impact your company: Native development is for apps that either target a single ecosystem, need total control of the device functions, or even graphics-heavy games. Cross-platform development offers all of the native benefits and more, it is, therefore, the most flexible option in this list, capable of building almost any application. Hybrid development is better suited to simple apps which will have limited interaction with the device it is running on. There you have it, I hope I've been able to answer most, if not all, of your questions. If by any chance this article sparked any sort of idea for you, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, we'd love to have a chat with you! Want to know what our services are all about? 👉 https://nightborn.be/services 👈 Resources You can find more information on the tools and frameworks mentioned in this article by visiting the links below. React Native Electron Author Yanick Bélanger
How Nightborn created a challenging culture between designers and developers? 🙌
We are currently living in an unprecedented situation. Together, the world is trying to face the current outbreak and it's our responsibility to stay confined at home. At Nightborn we saw this as an opportunity to make our time at home as efficient as possible. We've always wanted to start sharing our knowledge and love for digital products through a blog and, yes my dear friends, the time is now. Our first post is about the collaboration between designers and developers within a digital agency or a digital product company. At Nightborn, good collaboration is one of our core values and that's how we manage to create user-friendly and engaging applications. It's not only about workflows and methods. It's about creating the right agency culture. 🚀 Developers and designers have very different roles within an agency or a product company. UX/UI Designers are usually dealing with Research, Workshops, creating the wireframes, User Interface, and interactive prototypes. Developers are kind of operating behind-the-scenes to make a product work. So, it’s not unusual to observe a bridge between the teams. Bridging the gap can result in a more cohesively designed and developed product. Creating a successful work environment between developers and designers is not only about workflows and tools. Across our different experiences, working in agencies, or product companies, we've realized that the way developers and designers collaborate is evolving and changing throughout the years. Some methods and workflows prove themselves more efficient than others but are proven to be disasters on other projects. Here, we're going to focus on more general principles and ideas that improved and helped us build a super-challenging environment between our technical & design teams. 1. A passionate team for high-end applications 💎 There is no secret if you want to build a team that creates successful applications, you need people who love what they do. Passion is contagious (even more than covid-19) and you have to let it spread within your company. Let me tell you a small story about our Head of Design, David. He's been designing engaging mobile applications for quite a few years now, and the 589 mobile applications on his iPhone show the guy is actually passionate about what he does. He downloads a dozen apps every week seeking inspiration and discovering hot design trends. You want to create an environment where your team members always share and talk about the latest trends on the market. Designers and developers are naturally mindful of what's going on in their industry. Encourage your team to share interesting articles, videos, or new tech & software with the rest of the team. Spreading your passion might result in drastically improving the quality of the projects you are working on. 2. Understand each other's perspective 🤓 Design team. Developers team. In the end, we're just one team. One team working together to create engaging and polished digital products and applications. It's important to instore a climate of mutual respect and understanding of each other's work. In some cases, a gap is created because of the lack of understanding of each other's workflow. Increase knowledge among both teams by encouraging the share of general concepts and skills. Provide designers with the basics of coding so they can better understand how it works and have a more realistic idea of whether or not their designs can be translated into code. On the other hand, you can also increase your developer's knowledge of UX/UI design. Teach them the importance of UX Design methods and how it can affect digital projects if underestimated. Feed them with beautifully designed User Interfaces, so they can have a better idea of the trends of the market, and realize that pixel-perfect can make a difference. Increase this mutual knowledge can only benefit your team, as it can help designers adapt their approach when designing, encourage communication, and avoid misunderstandings among your team. Want to learn about how we approach our projects? Find out more about it here! 👉 https://nightborn.be/process 👈 3. Take the time to challenge each other 👊 We know. We all have tight deadlines to deal with and planning to stick to. But if you want to create an environment that fosters creativity and innovation you have to let your team experiment with new challenging stuff. At Nightborn, that's what we do. For 2 hours a day during a week, we let our designers and developers team up and work on something that inspires them. A new promising tech to try? A micro-interaction library? A fancy custom animation to post on Dribbble? Elaborating new methods to improve our workflow? The list of challenges is endless, but it's key to involve both designers and developers so they collaborate and challenge each other. These sessions helped us discovering new software and frameworks, it helped us create a challenging atmosphere within the team, but they mostly helped designers and developers get to know each other and understand how the other operates. Here is the result of a quick challenge, initiated by a developer and executed by a designer. Have you ever introduced Dribbble (literally the Bible of Designers) to a team of developers? We actually did it. Our developers now love browsing Dribbble and look for cool animations to reproduce. One thing for sure, at Nightborn, you'll never hear a developer saying this animation or this micro-interaction is too complex. Developers are now challenging designers to create high-end interfaces and animation. Don't hesitate to check out our Dribbble page! 👉 https://dribbble.com/Nightborn 👈 4. Be proud (really proud) of the products you create 🤘 Budget issues, change requests, wrongly scoped projects, or even wrong general approaches are often leading to unfinished products. Unfinished products lead to a frustrated team and you definitely don't want to get there. At Nightborn, we make sure that every team member can do his job at 200%. Scope your project properly and let your teamwork on the details so they can be proud of the high-end product they created. If your designer asks for an extra day to polish his custom animation. No worries about it. In the end, his animation will help increase the quality of the final product and in the end, the designer will be rewarded and super happy to see his work. If your developer wants to take an extra day, to improve your product's performance. Hell yeah, let him do his job! Passionate people want to do their job with love and want their job to have an impact. To take that away from them. Instead, allow them to create meaningful products. By creating a quality-driven approach, you will unite your team towards a common objective, and that's the kind of atmosphere you want to create. That's how you create applications and products that people love to use. Talking about being proud of your work? Discover Propchain's case study we recently published 👉 https://nightborn.be/projects/propchain 👈 In conclusion Designers and developers both have technical and complex jobs. And to create well-designed, well-functioning products, they have to work together. Forget about development taking priority over design, or design over development. It’s equally important for both teams to understand each other. Instead of isolating each other’s process, consider that you’re both designing and building a product together as a team. If you liked this article, you might also like: How can design benefit your business? How to choose the best UX/UI Design and app development agency? How we used React, Gatsby, and Prismic to create a high-end and well-polished website. Author David Souery
How did the COVID-19 outbreak impact the mobile application market?
For the past few weeks here in Belgium, as everywhere else in the world, we have been living through an unusual situation. Many countries decided to confine their population to contain the spread of this epidemic, obviously, these are not easy measures. Thus, a major part of the population is doing its best to comply with the safety instructions. Having that said, we can see that this particular situation strongly affected the mobile applications market because when a whole population is confined to their homes, they have to find ways to continue living. One way or another. Let's see how smartphone usage and application consumption have evolved over the last few weeks according to App Annie's special report. Increase in video conference app downloads Obviously, video conferencing applications, such as Zoom, Hangout, Microsoft Teams, and Slack have experienced a huge spike in terms of download over the last few months. Indeed, although confined, life has to go on, and we have to, somehow, keep working. These powerful applications are helping millions of workers maintain their professional activities but also stay in touch with friends and family. (Who's in for a Beer conference call today?🍺) In Belgium and many other countries around the world, the number one ranked application at the moment is Zoom. As we can see on this graph just before the start of the containment in Belgium, the application has seen its popularity increase drastically. We can imagine that with these events, real changes in our habits will take place once this crisis is over. Perhaps more work will be done at home which would have beneficial effects on the planet by reducing our carbon footprint. Still, this phenomenon also shows the willingness of the population to stay connected, despite the obligation to stay at home. Share some love with Bpost Mobile Postcard While for the majority of us it is important to stay at home, doctor’s and nurse's daily routine has become very hard. It is worth remembering that they do an admirable job. It's also important to think about delivery services that still operate and deliver our population. As all shops are closed most people now order everything online. By taking a closer look at the Belgian app ranking, we'll find Bpost Mobile Postcard. Indeed Bpost has put on the stores an application for creating postcards. We observe that it has been a great success since this confinement. The app lets you create and customize your own postcard via the app. Bpost takes care of printing and delivering it. Far away from your loved ones, this kind of attention allows you to stay in touch with them by merging modernity and tradition. We're all marathons runner now When was the last time you hit the gym? Can't remember right? Forced to stay at home for so long, the slightest pretext to go out becomes a breath of fresh air. In this context, we noticed that some people have discovered a passion for running (even people who had a Gym subscription but never went to the gym 🤫) This is why among the applications that stand out in this period, we notice that Strava running application is very successful. Strava has become over time the number one app for runners and cyclists around the world. Created in 2009, Strava has become a must-have, thanks to its simplicity and intuitiveness. On top of being a running application, they implemented a social dimension. Strava works also as a social network. You will find clubs that you can create or join, follow your friends, family or other athletes around you or on the other side of the world. Accustomed to the top 10 in the Health and Fitness category of the app store, since the confinement, it's simply the most downloaded app in its category. We can also note that running apps (Runkeeper, Runtastic,...) have seen a jump in the rankings as well as fitness apps (FitCoach, 30 Days Fitness Challenge) Entertainment during the containment Game applications have also seen a major increase during this containment. Quite simply, the Q1 of the year 2020 saw the largest spending in terms of apps with $23.4 billion in consumer spending. Compared to the last quarter of 2019, weekly application downloads increased by 30% in March 2020. Staying at home for so long can become very boring. We notice that some smartphone users have a desire to keep busy and stay entertained during this confinement more than ever before. Final words It's interesting to see the changes in behavior during this difficult period and we can see how smartphones have taken up space in our lives and have become a very useful tool in the way we manage crises such as this one. We hope that this epidemic will soon be behind us, and it is certain that there will be a before and an after to this event. In the meantime, stay home & stay safe 🙌 PS: If you have time to kill, discover our other blog posts: https://nightborn.be/blog Author Hichem Tadlaoui