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Digital Transformation: How to Get Started

Digital transformation is when an organisation shifts from a traditional to a digital enterprise model. There are many benefits to pursuing digital transformation, such as increased agility, improved customer experience and competitive advantage. However, it can be challenging to move forward with digital transformation without the right tools and guidance. This article provides tips on how to get started with digital transformation, including identifying the risks and opportunities, developing an action plan and selecting the right resources.

Introduction: 

What is digital transformation, and why do you need it?

Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technology into all aspects of a business to improve performance and better meet customer's needs. It can involve changes to organisational structures, work processes, or management practices. Digital transformation can help companies become more agile and responsive to customer needs, and it can help them stay competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace.

There are many reasons why businesses need to undergo digital transformation. Customers expect companies to provide engaging, personalised experiences across all channels in today's digital age. They also expect companies to be able to adapt to new technologies and trends quickly. Digital transformation can help businesses meet these demands by rapidly developing and deploying new products and services. Additionally, digital transformation can help companies to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Get started:

Define your goals, understand your audience, and identify the right tools.

Digital Transformation Steps

When it comes to making a change in your professional life, or any area of your life, there are three things you need to do to get started: Define your goals, understand your audience, and identify the right tools. Defining your goals is essential because it gives you and your team a roadmap to follow. It can be helpful to break down your goal into smaller steps that you can take action on. Once you have a general idea of what you want to achieve, it's time to think about what and whom you might need. The final piece of the puzzle is finding the right tools for the job.

One such tool is Power BI. Power BI is, a business intelligence (BI) platform that allows users to create reports and dashboards. You can use Power BI reports and dashboards to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and make data-driven decisions. Another tool that businesses can use for digital transformation is machine learning. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn from data without being explicitly programmed. This can be helpful for businesses that want to make predictions about customer behaviour or product demand. Finally, Excel spreadsheets are also beneficial for digital transformation. Spreadsheets are readily available and easy to track and analyse metrics and data.

The process:

Create a plan, implement your strategy, and track your progress

Digital transformation steps2

When embarking on a digital transformation journey, it's crucial to plan and track your progress. By taking action and monitoring your results, you can gain valuable insights that will help you improve your strategy. A plan should include your goals and the steps you'll need to achieve them. Once your plan is in place, it's time to start implementing your strategy. Be sure to track your progress so that you can analyse the results and make necessary changes. By following this process, you'll be well on your way to achieving success with your digital transformation initiative.

The benefits:

Increased efficiency, improved customer service, and enhanced competitiveness.

Digital transformation is a hot topic in business circles these days. There's a good reason for that – it can offer significant benefits to companies undertaking it. Here are three of the biggest: 

Increased Efficiency: 

When businesses go digital, they typically see substantial increases in efficiency. That's because digitisation allows them to automate processes and tasks once done manually. As a result, companies can get more work done in less time, which leads to increased productivity and profitability.

Improved Customer Service: 

Another significant benefit of digital transformation is improved customer service. By digitising their operations, businesses make it easier for customers to interact with them online and mobile. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction levels and increased sales. 

Enhanced Competitiveness: 

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of digital transformation is enhanced competitiveness. By automating their businesses and making them more efficient, companies can better compete. This is especially true in highly-competitive industries like retail, manufacturing, and healthcare.

In short, the benefits of digital transformation are massive!

Conclusion: 

Digital transformation is essential for the success of your business. Follow these steps to get started today.

Thank you for reading! In conclusion, digital transformation is essential for the success of your business. Follow these steps to get started today, and you will be on your way to a more prosperous future.

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Flexibility is spelled A-G-I-L-E

A success rate three times higher! That is why we at 2excel use a mindset known as Agile Methodology developing software or apps. But perhaps the term sounds a bit fluffy, complicated and long-haired? Well, chances are you will think differently after reading this blog.

It is probably no surprise that a word like “waterfall” is often used when discussing the next holiday destination. Surprisingly to most, however, is probably that it is also an integrated part of the vocabulary when talking software development.

Years ago, the Waterfall approach was considered the best when developing software, but due to its shortcomings, the Agile mindset is today often the preferred approach in software development and for good reasons.

Table of Content :

Quick Links

Let the numbers do the talking

Compared to the Waterfall approach the Agile Mindset has a significant lower failure rate and a much higher success rate. A Project Success Rate Survey conducted by Ambysoft shows that IT projects conducted with an Agile mindset has a failure rate of 8%, a success rate of 64 %, while 28 % were challenged. Using a Waterfall approach the numbers are 18, 49 and 33.

A CHAOS report from the Standish Group shows a failure rate for Agile/Waterfall respectively of 9/29, a success rate of 42/14 and a challenged rate of 49/57.

Flexible forever

A success rate three times as high (42/14) is one reason, why we at 2excel prefer the Agile Approach. Another reason being that we like to be and remain flexible in order to provide the best software possible for our customers.

2excel’s founder and director, Edward (Ted) Deane, explains why he prefers the agile mindset:

– Because the world is not static, neither are our customers’ requests to the software we are developing for them. Unlike the Waterfall approach an Agile mindset encourages continuous development and testing throughout the software development lifecycle of a project making it easy to incorporate changes as they arise. With this approach we are basically building software in pieces. Using the Waterfall approach, the software is only presented to the customer when it is 100% done, Deane says.

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Let’s take a few steps down the ladder of Abstraction

All this might seem abstract, complicated, and hard to comprehend, but let’s make it less abstract with an example.

Imagine this scenario. After years of waiting, you are finally having your house built. Your dream house – absolutely perfect for you, your partner and with a nice spacious room for each of your two kids.

The builders have let you know that it will take three months to build the house and you can’t wait to move in. Then something lovely and exciting, but unexpected happens: You and your partner are pregnant.

Hooray and head scratching

Wonderful news, but amid the celebrations, something comes to mind: your dream house has only two rooms for the kids, leaving you one room short when the baby is born! Your dream house needs to be redesigned as you now need three rooms for the children.

And now a question with an obvious answer: Would you rather have to redesign your house two days after the crew starts building the house or a week before the house is ready for you to move into?

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Tear down that wall!

Sooner rather than later of course. If the builders have just begun construction, the extra cost should be minimal whereas it can be a very costly affair if you request design changes days before the house is ready. Walls might have to be moved or torn down, architects might have to make new drawings and extra hours mean extra money for the tradies doing the changes.

Using a traditional methodology like Waterfall would equal having the changes made just before moving in. Using a Waterfall-methodology in software development means that the customer describes in as many details as possible what requirements the customer has to the software about to be developed.

A team of software developers then gets together and creates a new software to the customer’s requirements and when the software is all done, they present it to the customer.

Quite often, however, the customer’s requirements would have changed while the programmers developed the software. Having to incorporate changes at this very late stage can be quite expensive as a large part of the software might have to be re-programmed or scrapped.

Paint it blue

Had the programmers used an Agile methodology, the changes would have been made way earlier thus having cost a fraction, if anything at all, as changes are not seen as a problem, quite the opposite. Continuous development and testing are encouraged. Large projects are split up into a vast number of smaller projects that smaller teams are working on simultaneously.

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On a regular basis the customer is presented with pieces of functional software having been developed since last meeting. The close and frequent customer contact means that changes in the customer’s requirements can easily and quickly be incorporated in the software.

Just like if you ask a painter to paint all the walls in your house in a blue colour. If the painter does one wall and the asks you whether the blue colour actually is what you were hoping for, the one wall can easily be repainted back to its original colour, if you don’t like it after all. If the painter only asks you after having painted every wall in the house, the blue colour better be what you were hoping for, as the cost of repainting will be significant.

Conclusion

The agile approach is the right choice for you if you expect your customers to request many changes to the software being developed. With the agile approach the software is being developed in many pieces and often presented to the customer making it relatively easy and cheap to incorporate changes to the software. A success rate three times as high as the Waterfall approach speaks for itself.

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Yes, your business needs a mobile app
– here is why!

Business being conducted via apps is increasing, so if you haven’t already got an app for your business, it is time to get one

Table of Content :

Quick Links

Let’s begin this blog with question 1:

In your opinion, does your business need a mobile app?

A simple question. It might, however, be hard to give a clear and concise answer to, as you might see both pros and cons.

Let’s have a couple of facts before presenting question 2:

  • Mobile phone apps were downloaded 230 billion times in 2021.
  • Mobile phone apps were used 9 out of every 10 minutes a mobile phone user was online. The last minute was used via a browser like Google Chrome.

Time for question 2:

Do you want your business to be part of something that, in a year, was downloaded more than 200 billion times and is used 90 per cent of the time, people are online on their mobiles?

Who wouldn’t like more business, so perhaps question 2 seems way much easier to answer than question 1?

Well, it shouldn’t be, as the two questions are literally asking the same.

App 90/100

Smart phone users do on average, according to buildfire.com, use their phone for 3 hours and 10 minutes daily. 90 per cent of that time they use an app and as the number of apps is increasing rapidly, chances are that the percentage will be even higher in the future – and that means more business being done via apps. So, if you don’t want to be left behind, it is time to get a mobile app – rather today than tomorrow and for numerous reasons.

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Let’s have a look at some of them (inspired by the article “10 great reasons to build a mobile app”):

Better customer experience: A vast number of home pages is created to present well on a computer screen, but there is a price to pay for that – they often look rather poor on a much smaller phone screen and might be quite difficult for the customer to use reducing the chance of getting an order from the customer in question.

Apps on the other hand are created specifically to present well on a mobile phone screen making the app more user friendly and the customer experience better.

Faster: Speed is crucial on the internet and patience is limited to say the least. A second or two can be decide whether a potential customer sees your homepage or not. An app opens much faster than if you access a home page via a traditional www-page.

Cutting off competition: An installed app increases the customer’s loyalty to your business and reduces the risk of the customer choosing one of your competitors next time the customer is buying the service you provide. If you do have Woolie’s app installed and earn rewards points by the touch of a finger, you are not very likely all of sudden to shop at Coles.

Cheaper marketing: For you it is extremely easy to communicate with customers having installed your app. Instead of spending a lot of money on advertising, you can just send them push notifications and inform them about offers, events and other relevant news from your business. Relevant and timely communication strengthens your relationship to the customers and increases their loyalty.

Better customer relationship. Apps allows you to have a direct relationship with your customers and a unique chance to get to know them. The better you know them, the more loyal they are increasing the chance of repeat orders and minimizing the risk of them leaving you for a competitor.

Call centre cancelling: A potential customer might want to know more about your business/products. The typical solution would be for the potential customer to contact your call centre to obtain the information needed, but running a call centre is costly and what to do if a customer wants information in the middle of the night? The app never sleeps and by accessing the app, the potential customer can find all information needed – even at 3 AM and a very low cost.

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Feedback: Companies should always try to improve, and few know better than customers what needs improving and how. Often the problem is, however, that is difficult getting feedback from customers once they have left the physical shop as the business rarely is in possession of customers’ contact details.

Has the customer, however, downloaded the businesses’ app, it is no big deal to conduct a customer survey or keep an eye on reviews in the App Store.

Time for next step:

Apps are here to stay and there is no doubt that the number of apps will increase further in the years to come and hopefully this blog has convinced you that the right answer to the questions described in the beginning of this blog is “yes”.

We at 2excel have years of experience programming/developing user friendly mobile apps and we would be happy to develop an app to your specifications.

Contact us for further info

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The Lotus Project

Saving Countless hours

The Lotus Project provides a combination of unique programs and customized options for individuals living with a disability. For the Lotus Project People, it was a bit of a surprise that having invested in the cheap solution, the off the shelf software, turned out to be quite an expensive solution in the longer run.

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Statistics

7800+

Yearly Casenotes

19500

Yearly Casenotes

450

Licenses Sold

1345

Positive Comments

The Story

The Lotus Project provides a combination of unique programs and customized options for individuals living with a disability. For the Lotus Project People, it was a bit of a surprise that having invested in the cheap solution, the off the shelf software, turned out to be quite an expensive solution in the longer run.

The Solution

A task 2excel’s founder and director, Ted Deane, was pleased to take on.

  • Custom made software will obviously always be the better solution. This time, however, the difference was even more significant and obvious as the staff still had the off-the-shelf solution in mind when we presented the software we had developed to their exact requirements, Deane says.

The Problem

The so-called SAAS system was not at all what they needed and caused extra expenses as the system caused significant double handling. Realizing that the “cheap” solution was anything but that, the Lotus Project asked 2excel to develop custom made software.

Features and Benefits

Double handling was eliminated, and a number of processes was automated leading to these results.

Payroll

Automated reporting for payroll based on case note activities.

Xero Payroll Integration

saving average 8hr a week or 416 hours a year.

Smart Matching Algorithm

Smart matching algorithm to matching carers with people with disabilities based on needs and location saving 5 hrs per case.

Automated Invoices Integrated

Automated invoices integrated with Xero save 4 hrs a week.

Simplifies Admin

The online client management system and app-based system is being used by support workers as well. It is integrated with payroll and does everything from data storage to rostering.

Automated WH&S Process

Automated WH&S process to increase compliance and reduced risk saving countless hours in compliance checking

Bulk NDIS

Bulk NDIS submissions save 8-16 hr a week

"2excel built a fantastic system - and like nothing we could have ever purchased off the shelf."             

Emma Wallace, Business Manager, The Lotus Project


Emma Wallace

Did the Lotus Project inspire you?

We can help you too, give us a call and let's discuss opportunities

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Wondering how you could make a Meditation mindfulness App with great results?

Introduction

Meditation is an age-old practice where someone focuses on a particular object or thought to gain greater clarity and become more calm and peaceful.

Under normal circumstances we all face stress, anxiety, and pain. During exceptional times all of this accelerates. Many people are turning to meditation as a method to regain psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular control of their lives. With no side effects, meditation is becoming a primary solution to resolve much of the pent-up emotion. It is practiced all over the world and across many cultures.

With easy access to electronic devices and online processes, meditation mindfulness applications are springing up. There are successful ways to establish this app and perhaps you have been considering this possibility. Through this article you will see why this technique has become so popular and how you can develop your own app. We will discuss the cost, how to make it profitable, and how to avoid pitfalls.

There are actually nine types of meditations. The important factor is to find the best method for your needs. Here we will be discussing a mindfulness meditation. This is one of the oldest and most elemental types and can be accomplished without a formal teacher and is easily practiced on one’s own.

Exactly how were Meditation Apps Founded

Today we no longer use maps; we have GPS in our vehicles and phones. Most of our communication is handled in texts, through email, and as attachments. Wind-up alarm clocks are a thing of the past. We educate ourselves and our children through devices. In short, we live in the digital age.

It seems counterintuitive that to reduce theaddiction to social media and instant everything, we would turn to an app to divert our attention from isolation and stress. Yet, here it is.

The other side of the coin is the fact that since we find most of our information and entertainment through applications on desktop or mobile devices, why not? Using the most effective delivery system makes perfect sense.

Moving from a niche market, meditation apps have become popular to deal with the unprecedented isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact many app producers are partnering with local governments to help populations. Some initially offered free services to front-line service industries like medical personnel.

These programs are bridging the gap between professional recommendations to relieve anxiety and stress and the ability to enact effective measures to achieve that goal. It is find to say “go meditate” but if you have no idea where to begin, it is an almost useless recommendation. That is where the app comes in. Usually conducted by a narrator or coach it will guide you through the process. Some are accompanied by quiet or soothing music.

We have put together a detailed step to step guide on how you can build your mindfulness App.

1.Idea Evaluation

Idea Evaluation 1
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Most of the apps help the user focus their attention on their body. Usually they start with breathing exercises and consciously following the inhale and exhale of each breath including feeling the abdomen expand and contract. Some have the user count the breaths. Frequently the participant is asked to simply “be present” without worrying about accomplishing anything. Some are merely reminders without guidance and simply signal the start and end of a session. Seemingly the most effective approaches are using visualization and imagination to enhance relaxation and freeing thoughts.

For the most part, applications recommend daily sessions of about 10 minutes each, sitting comfortably in a quite place. One suggests that it be the same time each day and in the same location. While most only use the coach’s voice, some have sounds incorporated into the app including nature sounds, soft music or white noise. Those that do not add sound to the background suggest tuning your hearing to the sounds that surround you. Again, there are options about whether to keep your eyes open or closed, some let you have the option and others make suggestions. Integrating wearables to create the virtual world has proven more successful. As you can tell, you can create your own combination for the experience you want to create.

It would seem that there may be opportunities to involve some tangible elements such as meditation balls or some repetitive motion (Tibetan wheel) to increase the effectiveness of the technique.

Evaluating the effectiveness of these mindful meditation apps is difficult. However, with the increasing number of apps available combined with downloadable music or sounds, the general idea seems to be viable and offers opportunities for improvement and increased market share.

2.Competitor Research

Competitor Research
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As part of any business strategy it is important to recognize your competition and how to stand out in the crowd.

Special Qualities –You need to decide what will be different about your app than the others already in the market place. This is currently called a unique value proposition (UVP). It is not just a logo or slogan, it shows how your product solves the problem better or faster than the competition. If your app is no better than others, you need to develop some strengths. Look at how your competitors have succeeded, what they have done correctly and where they missed the mark. Then look at your own app and see its bests and worst qualities and how you will do better.

Search Out Competition –If it is a public company, you will be able to get a lot of information about their financial status. Look at their ads to find special offers and distinctive features. Look at comments especially from social media. Knowing what you are up against is one of the best ways to develop your own plan.

Marketing –Understanding their strategies including influencers and in-store sales will help you find loopholes that you can fill. See who and how they are targeting and if there is a segment being overlooked that is just perfect for you or where you can outshine the others.

Talk –Talk to people about what they expect out of the product and whether they are satisfied. Arrange for a meeting with an advisor in the industry, or in general, for ideas about how you can improve the app or unrealized markets or strategies. Attend expos and marketing conferences. Trade shows are great places to pick up brochures and to talk with their sales force.

Once you have this information, don’t stop. Good business practices means always having an eye open for the players and new enterprises.

Calm App

Right now this is second to Headspace. It is not as structured and appeals to customers who already meditate. Its color scheme is tones of blue and uses many natural images. For individuals who find it difficult to sleep or have problems with anxiety, this seems to be their go-to app. The sleep stories are professionally prepared and narrated for a smooth authoritative feel. They focus on mindfulness with a good music selection to attract those who are looking for self improvement or to increase focus. They offer a downloadable calendar that gives short inspirational directives or notice of episodes in their series.

Headspace

Probably the best known meditation app at this time. It has a wide advertising campaign. Appealing to the beginner it has an introductory course as well as specific apps for insomnia, personal development, and others. They offer incentives like a free month with an annual subscription or a week free for a monthly sign up as well as student and family plans. Generously they offer a free year of their premium service for anyone who lost their job due to the COVID-19 crisis. This strategy allows them tobe generous and still be attractive to others. It is also available through Apple stores.

MyLife Meditation

Formerly known as “Stop, Breathe & Think,” MyLife targets personal feelings and then leads you to guided meditations, or videos for yoga, or acupressure, and progressive relaxation. It emphasizes thinking outside oneself and empathy for others. Geared for children ages 10 and up as well as adults, this is downloadable to iPhones, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android and is made available without charge for teachers. It does not accommodate desktop or AppleTV. It also allows you to track your progress on a daily basis. The programs have different lengths, instructors, and themes with bilingual available.

Breethe

Concentrating on the inability to sleep or sleep properly, this app promotes its 4-7-8 method as a simple yet effective method to fall asleep within one minute or to de-stress during times of anxiety. With a “personal” mindfulness coach, this program also offers inspirational messages. Emphasizing its ability to help during the COVID pandemic, it includes dealing with loneliness, grief, and panic attacks. It works through music, nature sounds, guided meditations and inspirational messages. Its alarm clock function will let you start the day with this app. Synchronized on the phone, tablet or computer, it is available at the App Store.

3.Prototyping

Prototyping
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A prototype is a practice model of a product. In the world of software development, fidelity is the term used for the amount of detail in each version of an application. It can also be called a navigation concept.

•Low-fidelity –This is the first stage and is a storyboard of screens to be sure the client and the programmer both envision the same final product.
•Medium-fidelity –Moving on with additional detail, this will test the ability for users to navigate through the screens.
•High-fidelity –This is the most detailed yet in relation to UI and UX.

Keep in mind that each stage is used as a springboard to the next but none are fully functional as yet. They give the programmer and the client to refine and improve the application through feedback of test groups.

In the long run, prototypes help discover flaws and to resolve any conflicts between concept and final product. It can help eliminate redundancies and streamline the overall program. They help develop the best product possible before going full tilt into programming. Most importantly, they also provide better insight into the full cost of the development.

4.The difference between launching a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP)

Product Launch
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A minimum viable product is the bare bones, but usable, version of your app unlike a prototype. It is a test to see if the public will respond and will be something thatwill catch on. A minimum lovable product is similar but focuses more on the emotional response of the users. MLP usually has a more developed UI and UX.

Both of these versions are early releases just beyond the prototype stage.

With MVP you want to see if the product is what you expect, or validation of your idea. It is frequently a quick release before all the testing is complete. You likely don’t fully know your target market but release it to see who is interested. The programming can be changedon the run if necessary.

With MLP you are targeting a specific group and want to provide a viable answer to their quandary. Your release is based on your understanding of the target market with the idea that you can increase or improve it to provide specific solutions. There are other apps or products out there that fill the customers’ needs, but you feel yours is better or an improved version. You have probably invested more time and money than in a MVP release.

5.Making Money

Making Money
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Keeping everything in perspective, the ultimate goal is to make money. A basic return on investment (ROI) is to turn a profit for the work expended, no matter the industry or field. It means you are successful. When writing any app or running any business a ROI lets you reap the benefits of your expertise. Spending money (and time) on lost causes is the best way to run out of your own and investors’ money.

Money is important because it means your company or business will continue in operation providing employment for others. Money means having some control over your life and providing for those dependent on you. It also means having the ability to give back to the community through charities and important causes.

Turning a profit is not a bad thing; it is great! When designing any app or product, all of the development and final product needs to keep the vision of how best to price the app. As you probably know there are a number of methods like selling advertising, a free download but with charges for add-ons, subscriptions, free download but offering premium services at an additional cost. You need to investigate all the options and then select the best version for your application.

6.Important tips to keep in mind while developing your app.

Important Tips
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In developing any type of an app, there are a number of factors to remember.

Visual Design –Depending on the atmosphere you are trying to create, color plays a primary goal. For a meditation app, you probably would want to stick with pastels or calming colors like blue or green. If you are developing another type of app that requires excitement or competition, go with vibrant colors, especially red. Also be sure to keep all the fonts, buttons and labels consistent with each other. Keep the segments in manageable bites for the ease of the user, but if you have to constantly change screens or reload, it will become annoying. Basically it is a balancing act to keep things simple yet interesting and pertinent to your subject matter.

Onboarding –If you are building an app for a little known product or procedure, you will need to make the log-in and onboarding cleaver and interesting enough to pursue. Tutorials are best if they are interactive. Showing a fast version of the program can frustrate and lose a novice. It should be informative but not overwhelming. Research reports that an introduction of between 60 and 90 seconds is optimum. Log-ons may need to have options like through email or a social media account. Treat the user like an intelligent being rather than a robot. Designing is, unfortunately, an ongoing process. When you get feedback from users, be sure to listen to what they want.

Sign Up –Most users, tech savvy or not, are used to multiple methods of sign on. That includes email, and social media. The sign on is just a gateway and should be as simple as possible. The sign-in screen should be easily identifiable and in an expected location. In other words, the simpler you make it, the better the user will like it.

User Profiles –To avoid irritating your new user at the outset, build the user profile to get only the information essential to the app. However, the user does need easy access to history on their last meditation session(s), progress and subscription plan status. It is also nice if you cancustomize it to the specifics of the user.

Recommendations –Headspace and Calm both have machine learning that allows artificial intelligence to learn which meditations the user is downloading and then recommend other similar sites. If programmed correctly it can suggest by theme or narrator or even a mood shift. As an example, leaving an awful meeting but then getting yourself perked up for another one…change in attitude.

Trackers and Statistics –Similar to recommendations this process will provide a method to follow progress. This is very useful in identifying patterns and showing progress. For people who are, for instance, tracking their sleep patterns, it can show whether the app is helping them go to sleep quicker. If the user applies a little effort to journal progress, it can be extremely beneficial.

Push Notifications –Probably one of the most used features is the reminders section. Less intrusive than an alarm, these can still help especially the newer user develop the best pattern for them to use on a daily basis. Of course, the best option would be for a customized notification to allow for some specific times but others that are less rigid or even optional. Using at least a single reminder or push notification has shown that to be an encouragement to stay with the program. Setting too frequent reminders can be an annoyance so it may take some trial and error to find the right times and pattern.

Settings and Support –Just like with any type of application or program, the user needs to be able to change passwords, adjust reminders, and adjust their accounts. Support can come in two different capacities. Not every user is going to be tech savvy and they will need technical support to navigate some of the features. The other side is providing a professional, somewhat like a personal trainer, to help guide or overcome hurdles. Both of these are important to older adults who simply prefer working with a live person than with a dictionary provided by a Help menu. You could also offera chat box option for those who don’t mind electronic responses.

Payments and Admin Panel –Let’s face it, you are doing this for the money or at least enough money to keep the app going. That means you will need to decide what to charge for and how much. It also means you need to determine what payment forms you will take like credit cards or PayPal, etc. You will also need the proper programming to accept those payment securely. To keep your customers interested you will need to keep adding or changing the program material. That may mean different voices or sounds, rename categories, etc. In order to make those changes, you will need an Admin Panel.

7.Building Cost

Building Cost
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The bare bones of building a mobile app is the number of platforms, design requirements, and complexity. Simple apps run about $80,000 and those with multiple features will go for about $250,000. Expect the time to delivery from a few weeks for something simple or around three to nine months for something complicated. That is based on everything going smoothly. You may find it less expensive with some programmers but be cautious. Sometimes the initial cost is not the final cost after add ons, changes, upgrades, etc.

Costs include the developers, server price, and maintenance and support. Most personnel costs are billed by the hour and the time will depend on whether it is an iOS, Android, or server side.

You can find programmers all over the world and the prices range from the highest in North America to the least expensive in India, with Eastern Europe somewhere in between.

Conclusion

If you are still interested in creating an app, for meditation or other purposes, the basic questions to ponder are:

•Financial –Do you have a realistic plan to create and maintain a revenue stream? Can you recoup the initial investment in a reasonable amount of time and will the app generate enough ongoing income to sustain it over a period of time?

•Technical –Can this app really be made? If so, are you the person, or can you find the staff, to actually complete the project? What are the obstacles creating and implementing the app?

•Competition –If someone is already doing this, how many versions are there available right now? A glutted market will be no place to launch a new app. What are the ways you can differentiate your product from the rest? If your plan is to just improve upon existing apps, what will be the legal implications including accusations of plagiarism or copyright infringement?

These are only a few of the questions you should be considering as you exercise your entrepreneurial spirit into the wonderful world of apps.

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Blog

How To Monetarise A Mobile App

Posted On: 18 June 2020

Once mobile phones were being used for more than making and receiving calls, there was potential to make some money off the applications that seemed to spring up overnight. The industry is fast paced and there is no telling when the next improvement will pop up and your hard work will seem amateurish or obsolete. There are legitimate ways to capitalize on your ideas and to maximise the revenue you can generate.

Because most apps are free to install, the developers need to be conscious of how to actually make money off the product as well as continue the income flow in order for the company to stay afloat, creating upgrades and new apps, as well as paying the employees a reasonable salary.

In all of this it is important to keep your customers happy. Too many ads that obscure the game or too many key features that require purchase will not only frustrate the user but can drive them to find a more compatible app that will make their experience more palatable.

It is hoped that this discussion will make it easier for you as the developer and owner to come to the best resolution for your product and fill all the requirements of monetization and customer satisfaction.

WHAT IS MOBILE APP MONETISATION?

Mobile app monetization is a marketing technique that will influence the user to action. These actions can be to finalise sales, upgrade the current app, or even jump to a different site that offers another product that will complement yours. For many existing apps, the success will depend on the right combination of multiple techniques and strategies to create the highest return on their investment.

There are several popular options to increase income for your app. The first is to sell ads to another company. This may mean sharing information about your clients/users and knowing where and when to place the ads so they are the least distracting and yet effective. Another idea is to offer some incentives, like a discount on the first upgrade or some freebee.

When you settle on your choices, you will also need to determine if they are effective. That will include how long the customer continues to use your app and how much money you have made from that person. It will also tell you if interest is flagging and whether it is time to initiate improvements or scrap the app.

All of this will help you decide whether you are making the most of your mobile app and whether it is popular with the public.

HOW DO I MONETISE A MOBILE APP?

HOW DO I MONETISE A MOBILE APP?

Just because you have a killer app doesn’t mean you need to stop there. You can increase revenues by monetising it. First you can promote your app for free. Another option is to allow others to advertise on your app. These come in forms like banners and requests for more information. When you deal with these, be sure that the subject matter is compatible with your product or service. Something irrelevant can easily upset your users and if the ads are too frequent, the user will just move to another mobile app similar to yours that is not as annoying.

If your app is really that good, you may have offers to sell the bare bones so that another company can use your work. This can be done through licensing. If your app has about reached its lifespan, you may want to consider selling the code to someone else.

Basically you are trying to increase your app’s usage through more users and trying to leverage your standing by offering incentives for others to advertise on your site, or sell your code in some way. What follows are some options to consider for either of those strategies.

Email

Regular emails to your clients is a good way to keep your name in front of them. That means your name is probably going to be in the memory mix when someone needs your service or product. When you ask for an email address and you offer some incentive, you are more likely to receive a positive response.

There are also a lot of ways that email can be used like notifying people of an upcoming sale or campaign or even offering an upgrade. Planting a code that gives an added incentive, including a discount is another way to generate interest.

Partnership

The first step is to find a company that caters to a similar group as you do. Then you both benefit. People who are using the partner’s app get to see your logo or opportunity to explore your product. Of course, this is reciprocal. You feature the partner in your app.

In this way you both share in the advertising and promotions and can open your app to a whole new database. There is also the potential for click through where the user can go straight to your app. If the partner is not exactly what they are looking for, you gain a customer.

Just choose your partner carefully.

Advertising

If your app is without charge to users, it will be very attractive to download…everyone wants something for free. It will be more likely to be downloaded than one that comes at a price, even a low one. The way you recoup the cost is by including advertising.

It is just very important that you choose wisely. You need to pick companies that will appeal to your current customer base so they will have less chance of being annoyed and still relate to your brand. Also, preview what the advertiser wants to run so that it won’t interfere with the encounter your user wants. That should also rule out anything that is potentially offensive or amateurish.

Add-on Purchases

Sometimes these are called “freemiums”. This is a charge for additional services. Generally found in games, you can upgrade for a price to make the app more fun or add features. It can also be applied in a business arrangement to give the customer more payment options or shipping choices.

When building this into your app just be cautious to have a good balance between having too many services free and not enough value for the extra charges, which will reduce your object of monitisation, and having too little at no charge and then gouging the customer with the extras necessary to do business with you.

WHAT KINDS OF MOBILE ADS CAN I RUN?

It is unlikely that anyone will buy your service or product if they don’t know it exists. That is why advertising is so important. It gets the word out.

If you are thinking about offering your app to others for advertising (and so you will earn a little incremental revenue in the process) or are ready to take the plunge and buy some space, there are things you need to know.

First mobile advertising is not like traditional promotions. There are a number of techniques that advance the company or product’s name as well as different types of ads and approaches, not to mention cost.

WHAT KINDS OF MOBILE ADS CAN I RUN?

Because mobile phones are on most of the time and are carried around everywhere, there is a greater chance that your information will be seen. Ads can be geographically targeted based on the location of the phone. The messages can be personalised based on the data you have mined. The users can also follow you on social media accounts or you can make their experience more interactive by creating a game.

The information you get is one of the key advantages. Each mobile has a unique identifier so it makes it easier to find patterns and turn that raw data into usable statistics so that you can target needs more effectively.

There are different types of ads that will appear and here are some descriptors.

Banner Ads

These don’t cost much to install and they are usually images versus text. Generally they appear at the top or bottom of the user’s screen. For the advertiser they are a good way to make their product or service known and the banner is clickable to take the potential customer right to the site.

The disadvantage is that all browsers are not created equal and the ad can slow down the system. They can also be more distracting than attractive. For you as the host, it can mean the user moves on to the information in the banner and loses interest in the original search that will bring money into your business.

Interstitial or Full Screen

Interstital means placed between sections or layers. These ads are placed at natural breaks in the material. They seem to be less frustrating to users since they don’t particularly stop the user from operating your app. Similar ads are scrollovers that will appear on top of the content. Because it blocks the material the customer is looking at, they are annoying to the user and less likely to warrant a click. So, they are bigger than banner ads so will get more attention, but can cause the user to eventually uninstall your app because of the aggravation.

Notifications

These are sometimes called “push” ads. This is straight advertising with no information component. In fact, these can appear on a mobile device even when the user is not browsing.

Right now, they seem to be a hot ticket because when the user clicks, they are immediately transported to the landing page. Statistics are showing that these clicks are resulting in good conversions.

However, they are not necessarily popular with the original app owner because the users are associating your app when they see this ad that is unexpected and unwanted. This could damage your reputation.

Overlay

This is sort of a hybrid. The ad appears at rest points like an interstitial but they are generally more transparent and can look like a banner. Beneath the banner portion a video will run and the user can click on the video whenever they feel like it.

For the advertiser it is very inexpensive to produce and works into host apps quite easily. For the user, they don’t need to wade through the entire video or text, when they are ready, they can click anywhere in the process.

As the app owner you need to realise that this overlay may hide or obscure the material the user is originally looking for and, so, can be an bother.

Capture Form

This is one of the more common forms you will find. When the person clicks on the ad, it leads them to a form that will give the user the opportunity to subscribe to newsletters, give them incentives, register for information, etc. They are used a lot on gaming sites.

These are frequently as few as two clicks to enroll. They are intriguing and are generally at the top of the page. They can be brief, which usually generate more leads or they can be more detailed, which prove to provide more solid leads.

WHAT ARE THE BEST MOBILE AD PROVIDERS?

Because of the significant increase in mobile apps and users, companies are finding ways to expand their advertising. Econ 101 taught us that there are two sides to business: Supply and Demand. Mobile apps are the middlemen in the operation.

These ad apps are designed to significantly improve business opportunities as well as provide a laundry list of reports and statistics on the effectiveness of the ads produced and the media used.

Effectiveness of mobile ads is measured in eCPMs. That translates to “effective cost per mille”. That is the price the advertiser will pay the host app based on each thousand visitors to the ad. There are formulas that will help calculate the success.

WHAT KINDS OF MOBILE ADS CAN I RUN?

One of the early entries was AdMob and after its acquisition by Google in 2009, emerged as a top contender. After that are Reddit and TikTok who each offer enticing options for use on Facebook and Google. Some of the smaller players are Applovin, Vungle and others. These are less effective in the overall picture but they might warrant watching.

Here are some of the frontrunners and features that might interest you:

Google Admob

This is one of the most popular programs, as you might expect. It has been designed to work across a number of platforms including iOS, Android, and Windows 8 and 10. It claims to be a single place for search and display whether you are looking at a standard site or a mobile application.

It also offers the opportunity to sell another of your apps or encourage their installation. AdMob will only promote this new app to those who have not already installed it. This will allow you increase revenues by playing off your current customer base.

Facebook Audience Network

This is not just the ads that you see when scrolling through Facebook. The program will let you widen your reach to non-FB sources but with the same criteria for targets as on the program. For advertisers, this can mean a wider range of customer base because the same type of ads will track around the internet. This project is also available on Instagram. There is also chatter about including it on Messenger. The formats for these ads are adaptable so that it is more pertinent to the advertiser and expected to result in better performance statistics.

In February 2020 it was announced that this program will end in mid-April. It is currently uncertain about its future.

MoPub

In 2013 Twitter acquired a start up corporation, MoPub. It works on iOS and Android and helps advertisers with managing their ad campaigns as well as evaluate the data and produce reports. They have a kit that includes budgeting and targeting elements. It has the capacity to work in banner, full-screen, video and native ads.

They claim to help increase revenue through a unified auction of a variety of sources like demand-side platforms (DSP) and cross selling. They work on a platform of Advanced Bidding which they claim is more efficient than traditional real-time bidding.

Google Ad Manager

This is a platform designed for larger companies who deal with direct sales. In order to use this program it is necessary to have a Google account including a Google AdSense. It operates on a larger spectrum including desktop, mobiles, videos and smart tvs.

This opportunity comes in two varieties: Ad Manager for small and medium businesses and is free, and Google Ad Manager 360 that charges a fee and must be contracted through a Google sales rep.

Even the free version offers some respectable features and reports but 360 is where the details happen, including a dashboard reporter and access to Google Support.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MOBILE APP MONETISATION LOOK LIKE?

In short and realistically, who knows! However, here are a couple of pieces of advice: Keep up with the latest news and be ready to change strategies quickly.

Latest Info

Reading the latest statistics and blogs should give you some insight on what is trending or failing.

For decades advertising has proven successful. With mobile apps the types of ads have changed just as the use of outdoor advertising (billboards) was affected by radio and then television. Advertising will probably continue in importance but it is critical that the mobile app provider keep updated on the innovations and data on the best methods to use.

Focus on Users

Developers are definitely paying more attention to the mobile app users. There is a definite need to balance between in-ads that will appeal to the customer and their being considered spam. Another indicator is whether the size of the ad obscures the screen or in some way interferes with their enjoyment of the game or shopping experience. That will include the number of ads and how easy it is for the user to interface.

Subscriptions seem to be holding their own. People are willing to pay a fee to binge watch programs or to hear their favorite tunes through Spotify. Another popular feature seems to be the “freemium” where the initial download is free but for a small additional charge that will expand the usefulness of the app. Along with this is keeping an eye on the economy. In an economic downturn, people will have less money to spend on these programs and will focus on covering their basic needs.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MOBILE APP MONETISATION LOOK LIKE?

Prioritise

Mobile app producers are seeming to lean toward creating the best app for the purpose and giving the user a good experience rather than only looking at the extra revenue that ads can produce.

The bottom line is to stay flexible and stay on top of any changes in the rules and the developments and fads that come onto the scene.

CONCLUSION

Basically, there is nothing wrong with capitalising on your mobile app. You just need to decide what is best for you.

Begin with looking at your objectives, what the app does, and its overall purpose. When you look at this information you will be better equipped to decide on which model to use to increase your revenues.

Next, look at what your competitors are doing and see if they are successful. If they are, you might want to think about how you can improve on their success for your business. This can include identifying gaps or a different approach, or just better graphics. If they are not, see if you can figure out why or simply opt for a different alternative.

Examine your target market and find out what they want and what makes them annoyed. If you are trying to up-sell, be sure you explain the value of the purchase. See if you can determine how much they are willing to pay.

Don’t underestimate professional advice. If you have a mentor or someone you bounce ideas off, start there. Consult with your financial advisor and even an attorney. Try to make the best decision for your mobile app and see what happens.

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Blog

PWA (Progressive Web Application)

Posted On: 17 June 2020

You may have heard the term “progressive web application (PWA)” and wondered what it was. To start with, there are three basic types of apps, a native app, a web app, and a PWA. A native app is coded in the language of the device, like Camera+ for an iOS. A web app is used over a network, like a company intranet, or can be used for online forms, like a shopping cart.

PWA is written in a common language like HTML and can work on any platform. It can use data captured while online but use it without an internet connection. It is also versatile because it will work with any browser or type of device.

PWAs are gaining popularity because they have a good range of uses, are dependable, and offer the user a good experience. They are particularly applicable to small and medium sized businesses.

Benefits

PWAs are easily available. You don’t need to purchase them from an app store. They can be retrieved through a search engine. They use HMTL, JavaScript, and CSS, so coders are plentiful and can probably be hired at a reasonable cost.

From a financial standpoint, progressive apps are significantly less expensive. After the material is produced, updates are generally unnecessary.

Benefits

So for a company that uses an online catalog, it won’t need to be reloaded to view it. This will make the user happy.

Downloads are quick.

SEO content is always an important feature and it is nice to know that information in a PWA is included in the search optimization. With pertinent and distinct material, this will help the business get noticed. Using tools through Google, you can even check your effectiveness.

The convenience of navigation make it a good choice. Just like other apps, screen buttons and other aids will help reach your target audience and keep them engaged. Push notifications are also available through PWAs. These text-like messages are crucial to advertising sales, events and other features.

Since they are highly effective on mobile devices, they are becoming widespread in the business world. Coupled with the ability to keep browsing without an internet connection, this is a definite advantage to the seller.

Is it for You?

As you enter the wonderful world of ecommerce, it is a given that you will need a good app to work on mobile devices. Studies are showing that phones are now the preferred device for accessing web information with tablets a close second. Desktops and even laptops are losing favor with shoppers.

pwa image 2

Because of the speed of operation and ability to engage and retain user interest, PWAs are starting to outshine native apps for new and existing businesses. But you need to decide if it is best for your operation. Look at your target customers and decide if your app will help them do what they set out to do. You don’t need to jump in with both feet. Start with a single product line and see how things go.

Start by deciding which features are going to work best for your ecommerce situation and what is most important to your operation and growth. If you are unsure, consult with someone who is already using the system or a Software development company.

The bottom line is that just because it is a hot item and easy to implement, don’t feel you should commit to it if it isn’t right for your circumstances.

Give Business a Boost

What you want as a business owner/operator is something that will bring in more business. Here is what a PWA can do.

When someone accesses your website and adds the PWA, it will automatically stay on the home screen as an icon. That means every time the user needs your site, it is already there and won’t need to be downloaded over and over. Easy access can mean returning customers as long as you have a product or service they need.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the important factors in a PWA. Any of the major search engines can access your information and, in turn, publicise your brand. In addition, a PWA does not need a network connection to be effective (unlike a native app).

Once a user downloads your app, you can draw on the data he or she provides by seeing which pages/products they are seeking and then shooting them additional news, special services, or deals you are offering. This offers you the best chance to convert hits into sales and to retain customers long term.

All of this is available at an affordable price. It is a quick install into your system and is significantly lower in price than a native app. With a native, you need to wait for the app store to sell and distribute but with a PWA, it is right there when you need it.

For the user it is an easy download and the icon is automatically found on the home screen. When they re-access the app, it is only a few seconds before the site appears. In a time when speed is priceless, you will be ahead of the game.

Disadvantages

Those large company native apps that are sold in stores like Android have a definite marketing advantage. They have built-in advertising and a large audience to draw from. A PWA pretty much means you are on your own. In that same area, developers find it difficult to compete in advertising or find funding.

PWAs generally have limited features which will, in turn, mean limited uses. End users like a realm of possibilities and functions and a PWA just can’t compete with the native apps.

pwa image 3

In the same sphere is that not all the communication options (like Bluetooth) are possible, creating another limitation.

As long as the user has a relatively new device and browser, things are fine. However, compatibility with older models does not lend itself to a PWA. There is hope for a solution, but if not, customers trying to get as much mileage out of an existing phone or desktop will probably not want to deal with a PWA.

Mobile users will notice that a PWA takes a toll on battery power. The phones simply have to work harder to translate the code into the display. There have been some counter arguments to this issue, but if you want to be sure, try it out yourself.

Conclusion

Progressive Web Apps certainly seem to be effective for many business enterprises. They are easy to program and download and are proving to drive more business to ecommerce operators. Statistics are beginning to verify the success especially for small to medium sized concerns. At this point indicators show over 60% increase in traffic and over 50% in conversions.

Since they don’t need a distribution system (app store), they are easily accessible and to the user they feel like a standard app. Advertising is adaptable to a number of different ecommerce models and push notifications increase sales opportunities.

Couple this information with the low cost of development, the fact that the PWA is very user friendly, are SEO compatible, and can even work offline, and you may find yourself jumping on the bandwagon. Native apps still have some advantages and before taking the plunge, a reasonable entrepreneur will study both types before making a final decision.

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Blog

Remote Working During Crisis

Posted On: 25 March 2020

We are fortunate to live in times when we have the technology to work remotely. Especially during a crisis, telecommuting is a viable and sensible tool. In uncertain periods it is critical to maintain as much normalcy as possible. That includes conducting business. This keeps your employees occupied and paid. It prevents additional economic downturns associated with situations beyond our control.

Remote Working

By having your business continue operations, it means the company stays afloat. Projects are completed on time. Customers have been retained and your doors will remain open. After the dust settles, it will be an excellent marketing tactic to point out that it was business “almost as normal” during this period. This can also stand in good stead when talking to investors or financial advisors. It will increase employee loyalty knowing that you are able to adapt to their needs and an excellent selling point when trying to attract new employees.

For employees it means income to cover rent and mortgage payments, food, and utilities. It also lessens the stress about navigating the highways during hectic events (like the Olympics). For issues like isolation or quarantine, it will give the employees opportunities to keep occupied and less time to worry about the “what ifs” of the situation. Positive attitudes have proven to be some of the best medicine.

There are excellent technology tools available to help communicate and help with the insecurity that often comes with being physically apart. Creative uses for the tools we have mean that, as a society, we continue to help each other to survive even the toughest of times.

Remote Operation Tips

There are some practical steps to take as an employer and as an employee to make telecommuting successful.

  • Hours – As an employer you need to establish standard hours during which the employee will be available. Just because the employee is around the house 24/7 is no reason to expect that they will be working for you during all that time. In the same respect, the employee should be available for clients at reasonable hours. All of this will demonstrate the professionalism of the employee and of the company.
  • Space – Have a designated space to work, preferably separate from a common area. That way you have a clear boundary to maintain a balance between work and your other life. It can also serve as notice to children or roommates that interruptions should be avoided. It helps you focus on your job and away from household tasks that seem to take more time than necessary.
  • Dress up – While it may seem fun to work in your jammies, it will be less professional for those video meetings. It also adds to your self respect to maintain appropriate demeanour to your work tasks.
  • Technology – As an employer it is important to provide the proper technology for home mobile devices and any support that may be necessary.

The Good and the Bad

There are both positives and negatives to a remote workforce. In fact, some of the factors are both good and bad at the same time.

Pros – Employer

  • Better Pool – Because there is less concern about hiring someone whose personality will not mesh with the group, there is a greater choice for hiring. It also opens up the world rather than just those people in your city.
  • Lower Rent – Less space means lower lease costs.
  • Wages – Hiring remote employees in a part of the country or world that has a lower base salary can save some big bucks.

Pros – Employee

  • Commute – The flexibility of not fighting traffic or running for public transportation saves time and money.
  • Health – Being able to avoid that one employee who comes to work with the sniffles and then shares with the rest of the crew, is a definite plus.
  • Satisfaction – In general, people who work from home seem to enjoy their work more.

Cons – Employer

  • Supervision – Because the work is performed off site you must rely on feedback from clients about any problems or compliments.
  • Miscommunication – Because the final product is frequently the first time you see the project, if the employee was off target could mean a significant amount of time wasted and even a deadline missed.
  • Allocation – It can be difficult to be sure you are allocating the projects appropriately. You have no idea of someone is just slow at the job or they are slacking off.

Cons – Employee

  • Loneliness – There is no one to chat with at the water cooler. Social interaction is a great part of the work world to share ideas and opinions.
  • Staying Organized and Focused – It can be difficult to remain motivated and handle some of the mundane tasks. There is no one to prod you into action. It is also tempting to handle some household jobs like just a couple of loads of laundry that actually eat into the paid work time.
  • Internet Connections – Not all areas of the country or even city have reliable or fast connections. It also brings up the question of whether the company should pay for some of the ISP charges or you need to pick up the entire tab.

Communication

One of the ways to resolve some of the negatives is to maintain regular group and one-on-one conferences. A daily call would not be out of order so that all the parties remain in touch and go over current assignments, completion dates and any critical information. That doesn’t preclude the idea that either the boss or worker bee can just pick up the phone or dash off an email to be sure everyone is on the same page.

Communication

Solid communication should be the basis for strong team relationships even if no one is in the same room. It can also alleviate some of the solitude of self isolation.

Here are some mobile-friendly apps to consider:

  • Slack – This is a system that works through channels. You can organize these channels any way you want to suit your needs. It integrates with existing apps to assure the efficient flow of data and everything is on a public channel to keep abreast of activities or to review what has happened.
  • Microsoft 365 – This is a hosting service that will work within your organization or can post live events for the general public. A major plus is this service is being offered at a free one-year subscription during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Proof-Hub – This software incorporates individual conversations, group chats, discussion groups and the ability for teams and individuals to join at will. It works on iOS, Android, Windows and web.
  • Chanty – Based on AI technology, this is a communication app that incorporates chatting, video calls, threaded messages and screen sharing. It integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox and Teambook. Teambook lets you see all messages, contacts and tasks at a single site. There is also unlimited history.
  • Troop Messenger – Another top app, this has a user-friendly admin dashboard. Missed conversations are available. There is also the ability to send messages and attachments to multiple users and groups through Forkout.

Conclusion

It is prudent to take advantage of any opportunities that will allow you to continue as a productive member of society. As a business owner you have a responsibility to customers and to your employees. As a consumer, it is important to continue to patronize your suppliers to the best of your abilities. As an employee, to give a fair day’s work for fair pay.
In times of distress, it is even more important to be prudent but still continue as ordinarily as possible. There is a lot of technology at hand and it is essential that we use it well.

Here are 2excel we have always had the flexibility to work remotely. We have discovered what works and what doesn’t through trial and error. Through this time of crisis we are offering help to businesses that don’t yet have the remote option but wanting to implement a remote working environment.

Clients/Customers would always prefer to hear “Business as usual” than “We are closed for business.”

For more information give our friendly team at 2excel a call on 1300 768 277. “Don’t wait until its too late!”

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Blog

UX Designer And UI Designer

Posted On: 27 February 2020

Introduction

Jargon is constantly evolving. In the world of app design more recent terms being used are “UX” and “UI” both in terms of the overall usage and design but also regarding the people who write the code.

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) designers are each critical to the ultimate design of an application. These two positions need to work collaboratively to result in the best looking and best performing app that will keep users coming back to your site time and time again.

The UX designer finds the connection between the company’s product or service and the needs of the user. Think of a shopping app where you want to purchase a pair of slacks. Not only do you get an array of pants in the design and size specified, but an assortment of shirts that will be the perfect accompaniment. Or when you get a message that other people who bought what you did also purchased these products and displays a group of related items.

For a UI designer it is a little more complicated. This person is involved in how things work. From a vending machine that slurps up your paper money and then allows you to punch buttons to release the product you want, to a gaming app that lets you move from one level to another, each operation needs to work seamlessly and still reflects the identity of the company and be a cohesive process.

In short, both UX and UI designers are critical to a good and profitable application. What follows is some more detail on each occupation.

What is an UX Designer?

First, “UX” is short for User Experience. A UX Designer is part of a team that makes a product work for the end user. In other words, it makes it practical for the individual to get use or enjoyment out of a particular product.

While this term has usually been connected with digital technology (computer programs), it can be used for hard products like furniture, or an experience like shopping at the grocery store. Sometimes it is thought of as how something looks and operates. The UX Designer is an intermediary between the idea and how the purchaser will use it to their best advantage.

What is an UX Designer?
UX Designer And UI Designer 49

The concept is to make things easy to operate, pertinent to your daily activities, and to have a satisfying experience. They work on making it a pleasant experience on a company’s website to find what you want (and perhaps a couple of items you weren’t exactly after), to place it in your cart, access your payment options like bank account or money transfer company, and to have a pleasant time. It should remove obstacles and make the encounter fun.

Think of it from more of a psychological perspective. The UX designer uses coding skills but focuses on the user’s experience. They develop and enhance or upgrade existing sites of a company so that the user will come back to the company again and again. It is more about how it makes the individual feel rather than how it operates.

The duties usually revolve around the research necessary to make the product usable. The designer will test how it works and possibly even ask individuals to test it for them. They are the representatives of the end user before the product even hits the screens. Designers need to be multi talented because they have to understand what the goal is, implement it, make sure it works, and then sell it to the company as an improvement over what they are currently using.

​​What is an UI Designer?

User Interface (UI) is the mechanics of making the software or devices nice to look at and easy to use. This involves working with the graphics (GUIs) and voiceovers that make the program work. Some of it is making things work smoothly every time, like zoom. While it needs to work well, it also needs to look good.

The main job for a UI designer is to make sure things run efficiently. All of the buttons are easy to understand and operate. When the buttons are pushed that the programming “gears” all mesh in sync and provides a good response time. They also make sure that the company’s brand is clearly understood. That includes colours, logos, icons, etc. Everything needs to be consistent including type face and aesthetics.

​​What is an UI Designer?
UX Designer And UI Designer 50

Within all of this, the movement between screens, placement, and directions need to be intuitive. The user shouldn’t need to think too hard to place an order. Everything should be easily understood and seem logical.

To deliver these items effectively, the UI designer needs to know how to get the most out of the programming. Make sure that the user has the fewest number of buttons or icons to click on in order to get to where they want to be, and reverse if necessary. The user should be able to navigate backwards to review previous material without the necessity of starting the process all over.

All of this needs to be consistent. The designer needs to know what to emphasize and how to create a layout that is plausible for the ordinary person to comprehend and operate, all with the fewest key strokes possible.

Would there be benefits of having both an UX and an UI working together side by side?

So, UX and UI are incredibly similar but each still has a different focus.

The UX designer plays on emotions and entices the user to feel good about what is shown on the screen. It is a psychological ploy to keep the buyer engaged and want to purchase more. Whether the site is for gaming or shopping, the idea is to let the user have fun. The more enjoyable it is, the more they will want to stay and to return at a later time.

The UI designer is more of the mechanic. They want things to function efficiently and effortlessly. They have to be sure that the programming is matched without overlap. All of the icons and buttons need to work and tie into one another. Moving back and forth through the screens, zooming, and feeling secure enough to pay for something are all part of the process to make things work. The only aesthetic he or she is concerned with is that all the colours, fonts, icons, and logos are consistent.

Would there be benefits of having both an UX and an UI working together side by side?
UX Designer And UI Designer 51

A company wants a new app. The UX person will help with the research and develop just the right features and how the flow of the app should work in order to engage and retain the user’s interest. No matter how good this idea is or how absorbing the content, if the font is too small or the buttons are placed incorrectly, the customers will quickly discard the app because it is too cumbersome or unfriendly.

Now imagine an app with amazing animations and all the pieces are in the right place, but you need to keep searching to find the item or service you originally wanted from this company. This is an example of good UI but without the benefit of UX.

Obviously you will need both sides of the design team and they need to be compatible with each other.

Can I have 1 Designer doing both UX and UI?

Since both of these designers are focused on the user and his or her experience, it would seem that you could have a single person performing both tasks. From an employer’s standpoint that is the most economical choice. If that is your goal, you need to interview and select personnel with the appropriate skill sets for each side of the equation.

A UX designer is the connection between the business product or service and the user’s needs. This individual is part marketer so he or she looks at the competitors, customers and design. It can also involve planning, testing and analysis.

The UI designer is concerned with the look and feel of the final product so the research on this end is geared toward design and how the customer will work with it, keeping the company’s branding consistent and prominent, and user guides. Plus, this person needs to know animation techniques and screen interactivity, in addition to how the adapt the overall program to work on a wide range of devices and screen sizes.

Can I have 1 Designer doing both UX and UI?
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UX is empathetic. The individual should be good at problem solving and exceptional communication skills. They should have a solid understanding of business operations in general and specifically your business and its goals and products. So, they are a combination of creativity and analysis. Quite frankly a bit of psychology wouldn’t hurt.

UI is creative. It takes a good eye to know what colours are compatible and which will turn the potential customer off. They are probably very visual people. At the same time they need to be adept at the coding to make sure the application works seamlessly and still be user friendly.

So, can the two jobs be combined? Yes, but it will take just the right person to fill the bill and most probably that individual will be better at one side than the other.

Summary

UX and UI positions are incredibly similar but vastly different. No wonder they are confusing and often misunderstood especially outside the design and tech worlds. Part of the reason is that these are still considered relatively new fields.

If you are targeting a job in either of these arenas, look beyond the job title. Look at the skills and education that the employer is trying for. Initial interviews are frequently with an HR representative. This person probably doesn’t understand the differences between UI and UX or the qualities needed for either or both, let alone a combination. Hang in until you get the chance to speak with the department head. Develop your questions to understand the scope of the job and not just the prepared speech the interviewer uses for each candidate. See if it is possible to chat with the coworkers as well.

As an employer you understand that turnover is expensive. You need to find the person with the mix of abilities you need for the position at hand. For that you need to be sure you thoroughly understand the skill sets and personalities of UI, UX, and combination designers. You may need to inquire beyond previous jobs and education and look at how they spend their leisure time. You also need to distinguish candidates from someone who wants “a” job and someone who wants “this” job.

So, if you are in the market for a new job, including a career change, or are needing to hire for a position, it is important that you understand the difference between a UX designer and UI designer to get the best fit.

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Blog

Software Development Trends Revised

Posted On: 02 September 2019

We live in the exciting time of overnight technological advances, self-driving vehicles, international electronic finances, and so much more. We are going to explore some of the trends currently in process.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a process that overlays virtual reality onto existing environment. More simply it is a computer-generated image over something that is naturally occurring. It is frequently used in television (like sporting events where a finish line is superimposed on a swimming meet), navigation aids, gaming, and more.

Augmented Reality

There are several categories for this technology:

  • Marker-Based or Image Recognition – This is when a camera identifies a visual marker (like QR/2D code) that is a recognizable, simple pattern that doesn’t need much processing power. The subject matter is marked and then additional content is overlaid.
  • Markerless – Most notably used in GPS programs, it will guide you to your destination or locate the nearby merchants or restaurants. Pairing with smartphones, this application has found its way as a basic for travel.
  • Projection Based – Like it sounds, it sends out artificial light (projecting it) onto a surface that will detect a human touch. It senses the interaction by calculating the difference between the actual projection and the person’s actions. For the manufacturing industry, it means a perfect product every time.
  • Superimposition Based – This will completely or partially replace a view of an object with another view. It is a challenge because the technology must first be able to recognize the original object. In home decorating it allows a user to place furniture around a room and change it at will.

The bottom line is that this combination of virtual and augmented realities give people improved information and will enhance daily activities.

Virtual Reality

VR is a technology that creates a simulated world that lets the user feel he or she is actually a part of that universe. It is found in computer games and, using a helmet-like headgear, it immerses the person into another, highly interactive experience using 3-D and simulating other senses including smell.

Virtual Reality

These helmets are generally referred to as head-mounted display (HMD) and are found in play rooms as well as laboratories. In-home applications are in process to allow more versatility and more affordable uses.

Right now VR concentrates on the use of hearing and vision. Research is being conducted to develop a treadmill that will have the user feel as though they are walking through the new world. The sense of touch (kinaesthetic) adds to the authenticity of the program.

Beyond fun and games, there are real world applications for virtual reality.

  • Training
    • Medicine – Allowing surgeons to practice delicate operations or complex procedures ensures greater success for the patient. It results in better skills for the personnel and more efficient use of staff.
    • Police and Military – VR means exploring the options of an operation and identifying the pitfalls through various scenarios.
    • Police and Military – VR means exploring the options of an operation and identifying the pitfalls through various scenarios.
  • Mental Illness – Controlling the environment helps with dealing with the fallout from trauma, overcoming addictions, and facing difficult situations.

Of course, there are some major players in the market. Three of the hottest products were Virtual Reality headsets were Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR), Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Coming right on their heel are Google, HP and Lenovo. Keep your eyes open for new faces as this technology develops even further.

Mobile Applications and Development

Developing new hybrid mobile apps that run on Android and iOS is becoming easier with the frameworks readily available.

Hybrids – A hybrid app pulls together parts of native and web applications and is offered through a browser. They are used across a number of platforms. Next is a short sample of the latest and greatest:

  • Xamarin – Owned by Microsoft it has cross-platform implementations of Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and Common Language Specifications. The code base is C# and can be used for native Android, iOS, and Windows. It will interface with Windows and MacOS.
  • PhoneGap – Adobe produces this framework as open source through Cordova. The core applications use CSS3 and HTML5. It is designed to reuse your current web development talent to create hybrids.
  • Iconic – As a complete, open-source SDK, this is constructed on top of Angular.js and Apache Cordova. It uses CSS, HTML5, and Sass. It is licensed under MIT.
  • Framework7 – This is another free and open-source mobile HTML framework with iOS and Android natives. It is a clear and easy code centring only on iOS and Google Material Design.

React Natives – Another open source program, this was developed specifically for Facebook. It will integrate with Android, iOS, Web, and UWP. It allows a programmer to use React as part of a native platform and uses JavaScript thread instead of HTML. As a background it takes the JavaScript to talk with the end device using serialisation, asynchronous and batched Bridge. All of this boils down to increasing the speed for native programmers.

Mobile Applications and Development

Flutter – Another open-source framework for Android and iOS, this one was developed by Google. These apps have some specific programming mechanisms:

  • Dart Platform – This is the support for a “hot reload” so that the programmer can insert source file modifications into an already running application. This means an immediate implementation of the changes.
  • Flutter Engine – A C++ support system for graphics. It is a host for Flutter applications and offers the user a wonderful array of platform, layout, and foundation widgets.
  • Foundation Library – This is the interface communication between the engine and other entities like APIs.
  • Widgets – Although it is not particularly necessary to use widgets to build a Flutter app, it is very helpful to create new shapes, add text, and place imagery directly to the screen.
  • Design-Specific Widgets – There are some unique characteristics that work with Material Design to make the Google design language work better and to simulate iOS.

Natives – Unlike hybrids, native apps are written in platform-specific languages. Hybrid apps are considerably less expensive, but natives have their own advantages:

  • Performance – They will interact directly with APIs and won’t need plugins or WebViews. They are faster and very responsive so are better for graphic-laden programs.
  • Consistency – UIs look consistent for a better user experience.
  • Feature Access – With a hybrid you need to wait for a plugin for new feature support, natives can immediately access the iOS or Android updates.

Artificial Intelligence

Simply put, artificial intelligence (AI) is having a machine perform human-like functions that need processing like vision, voice recognition, etc. It also means creating new outcomes from learning by experience.

So, it is applying reason and information (knowledge) to perform activities.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is now a major factor in daily lives. It is still growing in usefulness and versatility. It can improve a basic human condition as well as business functions to improve efficiency and profitability.

Some of the AI apps around today include:

  • Replika – Used in the iPhone apps it sounds like a real person rather than a bot.
  • Airpoly – For the visually impaired, it identifies objects. In fact it is so fast that it can recognize and classify up to three objects in one second.
  • Seeing AI – Another program for the visually impaired, it works with iPhones.
  • Cortana – This is used with Smartphones and desktops and is basically a scheduler and reminder system.
  • ELSA – Used to help individuals pronounce words, English Language Speech Assistant (ELSA) is growing in popularity.
  • Siftr Magic – As an iPhone app it will sort through all your photographs and suggest deletions. It allows user discretion to actually make the shot go away.
  • The Roll – This app will also stroll through all your photos but will select what it considers the best shots.
  • Hound – This is a search aid that is voice activated and will offer suggestions about various establishments and events.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the collection of various applications, appliances, and other objects that transfers data. This can be a fitness tracker, medical devices like cardiac monitors, thermostats, and so very much more.

They are becoming more prevalent and valuable as we progress. From identifying traffic tie-ups and gridlocks to remotely turning on household lights they make an impact on how we live. There are developments in process to improve our energy use and manufacturing productivity. What used to be known as “just in time materials management” is now controlled by an application that will let you know when supplies are low and even automatically place a reorder.

The enormous concern is security. While your smartphone may be highly protected, when you use it to turn on your slow cooker, the kitchen appliance is not secure, leaving a back door wide open to your mobile device that has personal information about you and your family, as well as access to banking information and other critical data. Multiply that by a corporation issuing company phones and work-from-home access. Then let’s consider governmental security issues. The concept can be terrifying.

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Software Development Trends Revised 63

The other downside is storage capacity. Where and how will all of the data be stored and analyzed? How available will it be and to whom? Since the legal system always lags behind technology, when will that catch up?

There are still too many unanswered questions, but that probably won’t stop the ongoing development.

Progressive Web Application

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a Google concept that is designed to improve performance despite the device or connection. A good example is a beverage ordering system that will let the customer to peruse the drink choices and customize the order; check out local prices; and place the order. The idea is that the experience is consistent and quick for all users.

Progressive Web Application

The key is the continued evolution of browsers. To be known as a PWA, it must run under HTTPS; have a Web App Manifest; and have a Service Worker. With this in place, the app will attract more visitors and enhance the shopping experience. All of this will convert more searches into purchases and manifestly increase revenue.

There are some basics that distinguish this app:

  • Progressive – Well, that makes sense. Working across any type of device, it will move forward and take advantage of any features on that device.
  • Searchability – This is an actual website, so search engines need to find it.
  • Links – With a URI, the application can retain or reload for bookmarks and shares.
  • Response – It needs to fit the form factor and screen size.
  • Appearance – It needs to look like a native app with minimal page refreshing.
  • Connections – It can work even in areas of low connectivity.
  • Reusable – Push notifications will aid mobile app users to re-engage their applications.
  • Installation – Easy availability through the device’s home screen.
  • Fresh – New content is readily available
  • Safety – HTTPS as the host to prevent attacks.

Blockchain

Blockchain is the accounting system used for bitcoin transactions. It is the compilation of digital information (blocks) stored in public databases (chain).

  • Blocks – Each Block stores several thousand transactions and has three main components:
    • Information storage on the details like day, time, and amount
    • Participants using a digital name rather than an actual signature
    • Unique identifier
  • Operation – To work, a blockchain must have a verified transaction which is then stored. Then it is given a unique code allowing the transaction to be included in the blockchain.
  • Security – Because of its structure, a hacker would need to work through each iteration of the transaction that is spread across countless computers. Since real names are not used, it is less likely that the user will be identified.
  • Uses
    • Banks – It can implement blockchain for 24/7 secure transactions for customers and between other banking institutions.
    • Cryptocurrencies – This is probably the most common application at this time for financial operations across countries without governmental intervention.
    • Healthcare – Maintaining the confidentiality of personal heath information the coding makes the data available to a limited number of persons or entities.
    • Real Estate – The process affords secure and accurate information on the chain of title.
    • Voting – The concept is to eliminate ballot tampering and fraud. It will reduce the number of volunteers needed in the process as well as even faster result calculations. It is thought that this greater security will increase voter turnout in elections at all levels.

Blockchain is probably in its infancy and will grow in popularity as more uses are developed.

Cyber Security

This is a broad category that monitors and protects all the technology and hardware from attack. As data grows it includes more critical and private information on personal, corporate and governmental levels. Unauthorized access and ultimate distribution of these records is also growing in volume and severity of consequences. There are three levels of defence.

Cyber Security
  • Individuals – Each employee should be acutely aware of the need to prevent and reduce any threats. Those directly involved with security have to be on constant alert for innovations, risks, and solutions to the problem.
  • Procedures – All organizations should have clear and detailed processes to identify and correct suspicious activities. The security team should maintain updates as technology and criminal actions change and increase. Every employee should understand the necessity to be alert to dubious emails or transactions and report them promptly.
  • Programs – Controlling access to information as well as antivirus, antitheft, and anti-everything software can help reduce risk.

Electronic and cyber crime is at an astoundingly high rate of occurrence. It is not always easily detectable. The fallout from this situation is multi-levelled:

  • Expense – Customers and clients of attacked institutions are filing lawsuits and other actions to recover damages from breaches. This is in addition to the damage to the organisation’s reputation and corporate structure.
  • Complexity – As criminal hackers continue, their strategies become more sophisticated and escalated. Ransomware is high on that list.
  • Monetary Advantage – The profit from cyber attacks is a strong motivator to many people and organizations. When you combine that with political and ethical issues, it becomes overwhelming.

Application Programming Interface (API)

This is a go-between that lets two applications converse. It is a set of processes that lets a computer program use other systems including operating systems, libraries, etc.
Some code is open source, or sharable, like Linux. The idea is that the code will improve with other experts working together on solutions. Other code is proprietary or secret. Companies have paid extensive amounts for it or have developed it independently and want to protect their investment.

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API lets websites plug into each other so that coders can build new things, tools and widgets and applications. The host site benefits with all the innovations others are building; the developers get others to view, admire, and use their handiwork. Many programmers will add a tutorial to boot.

If you are interested in delving into this communal process, you are in luck. All indications are that it will become increasingly important and grow exponentially.

  • Scrolling – This is an infographic that allows a programmer to see how others are modifying their applications
  • Quick View – There are other infographics that are more of a snapshot of how they work.

These tutorials like BBVAOpen4u or SmartFile.com are helping others plunge into the world of API and expand the benefits:

  • Automation – Letting computers do the work.
  • Flexibility – By accessing components, you can mix and match your needs.
  • Range – An API can share information with new users and programmers.
  • Effectiveness – It allows for a greater scope of delivery quicker and easier.
  • Change – Over time APIs affect greater change for a larger user group.
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