Getting design and development team on the same page!

What makes or breaks a product team?

Strong design principles are one. A clear, effective roadmap is another. But one of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of all great product teams, are the relationships between the designers and engineers on your team.

“Truly great products are often a combination of two things: a technical breakthrough and a never-before-seen design it enabled.”

Yet many designers compartmentalise building a product into two distinct parts — design and development. This distinction is one of the most dangerous traps a product team can fall into. When the design is seen as a satellite that orbits engineering, it usually comes crashing back to earth.

The problem is we separate design from implementation. In product design, both these things are inextricably linked. A world with terms such as “design freeze” or “handoff” just won’t cut it.

Truly great products are often a combination of two things: a technical breakthrough and a never-before-seen design it enabled. So it’s essential designers understand the possibilities and restraints of the technology they’re working with before they can properly delve into the design.

Design together

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re designing a native mobile app. Here are some technical questions you might receive from an engineer that can heavily influence your design decisions:

  • Which framework are we going to use for that home screen chart? If we don’t know the suitable one, we should ask the developer for a suggestion and follow the UI of that framework.
  • How long does it take the API to fetch the data for that list-view? If it’s too long, you’re going to need to do more than place a spinner.
  • The API takes a little too long to load user’s loans. What do we display in the meantime?

Questions such as the above should be asked and addressed as early as possible by discussing with engineers. Involve them in the design process, at the end of the day, it’s the developer that actually builds the website or app.

Even though you’re the designer, the developer knows best when it comes to certain other aspects of the user experience (perceived performance, page loading times, miscellaneous features that will crash the browser).

Turning design into reality

Being a great designer requires you to be empathetic, not only to users or clients but also to your engineers. Let’s not forget that all of us are working for the same goal of building a kickass product!

So here are key pointers to turn your design into pixel perfect reality:

1. (Atomic) Design System:

Design System is a list of all the elements you are using in a project. It helps you maintain consistency in the design. Want to know how we built our design system? Take look at this article:

getting-design-and-development-team-on-the-same-page


2. Mockups:

We all have been generating & sharing UI mocks comfortably for many years now. But there are few things which will help us avoid confusion.

Artboard sizes:

Nowadays we have a wide range of devices. Not just web but our mobile platforms also has varying screen sizes! It’s important to decide how will our product look on all those screens? Define the breakpoints and keep in mind the media queries that developers are going to use. Talk with your developer if you don’t know what it is.

Breakpoints and responsive layouts:

Upload an artwork to Zeplin or Google Gallery or InVision with the responsive design (according to the breakpoints that you’ve already set), in other words, share how your design looks in different screen resolutions and devices.

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You think it‘s clear that the design will be horizontally centred at higher resolutions, such as 1920 x 1080 pixels, but developers are not mind-readers.

Tools for designers:

We have developed a Sketch plugin which allows you to quickly generate guides for a selected element and helps you achieve web development’s famous grid (column) behaviour in Sketch. The plugin was featured on SketchApp website and newsletter.

Tools for designers

File names and versioning:

The name of the screen should simply describe its function. If you’re not yet using a version control solution for your designs, you probably should.

Make sure to use consistent casing when naming your screens, whether it’s ‘camelCasing’ or ‘Sentence casing’ or ‘lower casing’ etc.

File names and versioning

We also add 3 number to give the sequence to mockups.

3. Interactions:

Make a flow:  Putting the mockups together is only half the work done. You’d need to stitch the screens together based on the flow using Hotspots (or just make an Interactive Prototype). It helps the product manager understand how the user journey is panning out and helps the developer plan her/his approach to code.

Figure out the fidelity: Not every screen has to be fleshed out with high fidelity prototypes. Few screens could simply be static with explanatory comments, few could get away with platform-specific standard interaction patterns and few might require those custom prototypes. There’s no blanket rule for all the screens, so discuss with your developer & plan accordingly.

Suggested Tools: Overflow, Marvel, InVision, Google Gallery, Principle or craft it directly in code!

4. Specs and assets:

Today with products like Zeplin, Google Gallery, Marvel Handoff or InVision’s Inspect sharing style guides and specifications has never been easy.

Assets and resources:

Exporting assets for the different platform is easy but your developer is gonna love you if you are giving them optimised assets! Use optimisation tools like Kraken, ImageOptim, Optimage or TinyPNG.

Even better if you use SVG.

When you use SVG for your icons or illustrations, you don’t need to worry about devices with different pixel densities. Another advantage is that SVG graphics use up less space, and can be compressed effectively by gzip on the server side.

Think twice before you send an asset larger than 1MB to a developer! Don’t be lazy and send the job off to a developer; you are responsible for the visual quality of the project. Check out this image optimisation guide by Google.

Assets also include custom fonts and copy for your vernacular Apps.

Final Checklist:

1. Don’t be too visionary.The ideas must work.

2. Work with real data in mind and think about a “scalable design”. If there is a long text, what happens? how does it work in other languages? and if in the future will be adding more items to the menu, what happens?

3. Empty states: if you don’t know what they are, find out!

4. Explain the reason for your choices about the layout, colors and interactions.

5. If you speak the language of developers, you can get respect. If you have a good knowledge of programming languages (HTML, CSS, Java, PHP, JavaScript, C #, Objective-C or Swift) you can be one of them and they listen to you with pleasure.

6. Never forget the user.

Conclusion

Although you shouldn’t need another reason to be considerate of your fellow teammates (especially developers, who traditionally, designers find it hard to see eye-to-eye with), using these tips will help you, as a designer, just as much as they help everybody else. Cutting corners to save time only creates speed bumps further down the road, so add a little care and some foresight with your design choices.

Tap the ? button if you care about your developer (and/or you found this article useful).

Have any tips of your own? Let us know ?

Source:- Capital Float’s Medium Blog

More Related Posts

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Here is How Unsecured Loans are Different from Secured Loans

Adequate funding is a pre-requisite for any business. Whether a project is at its initial stage or in the development phase, it needs ample financial backing to keep up its growth momentum. However, finding adequate funding can be a challenging process despite the market now offering a wide range of alternatives to traditional sources of finance.

In their search for funding options, start-ups and small businesses often stand at crossroads where they must choose between secured and unsecured loans. On the surface, both look “equally attractive” with their respective advantages. Borrowers are frequently perplexed as to which should be their final choice.

It is therefore important to delve more deeply into these two broad categories of loans and compare their costs with the benefits they bring. Businesses must also be aware of their own financial situation to understand clearly which loan option they will be eligible for.

Let us first understand the basic concepts of secured and unsecured business loans in India.

Secured Loan

A secured loan is always backed by assets. While applying for such a loan, the business must own something of measurable financial value, which can be offered as collateral to the lending institution. This could be an immovable property (a plot of land with or without construction), gold, a valuable investment portfolio, or any other asset that can be liquidated. Businesses can also extend their machinery, raw material or inventory stock as collateral.

The collateral has to be pledged to the lending institution. This implies that the lender will hold the title/deed to the collateral until the loan is fully paid off. However, the borrower retains the ownership of the asset and will continue to enjoy benefits accruing from it.

If the borrower fails to pay off the loan in the stipulated time, the lending institution has the right to take over the possession of the collateral and sell it to recover the outstanding debt amount. Typically, with secured loans, the end use of funds borrowed is pre-determined.

Advantages of secured loans

Borrowers are often lured to secured loans in the hope that they will be able to procure a larger loan amount than what unsecured loans can offer. The longer period available to pay back the borrowed sum is also a perceived advantage.

Another apparent benefit of these loans is the lower interest rate charged on them. This is based on the rationale of lesser risk involved, thanks to the collateral that can be sold off by the lender in case of payment defaults.

THE CAUTION – What must also be remembered is that some secured loans can have very high interest rates. There are financial agencies that charge the highest legal interest rate for business loans despite taking collateral from the borrower. Reading the fine print carefully is always recommended. In some cases, a low interest rate can also be a promotional or limited period offer that may be withdrawn after a few months.

In addition to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), nationalised and private banks also offer secured loans to businesses, but the banking penetration in India is still low. This prevents several small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from obtaining a secured loan at a reasonable interest rate.

Another common disadvantage of secured loans is that the process of getting approval is longer and calls for more paperwork than an unsecured loan.

This brings us to the second business loan category.

Unsecured Loans

An unsecured loan is not backed by any collateral. It allows the borrower to get funds without having to offer any asset as guarantee to the lending institution. Generally, unsecured business loans come with a fixed term and fixed rate of interest.

Unsecured loans are offered based on the credit worthiness of the borrower. For an enterprise, the eligibility can be gauged in terms of years in business, its annual turnover and the primary location (city) from which it operates.

The tenure of these loans is often shorter than the long-term loans granted by banks. Most nationalised and private banks approve loans for SMEs with a payback tenure of not less than one year. NBFCs can offer immediate loans for shorter periods. At Capital Float, unsecured small business loans are offered for a tenure of one to 12 months. This gives the borrower the advantage of securing quick funds for sudden needs. Once the project begins to reap returns, the business can pay off the loan and thus avoid paying interest for prolonged terms.

Advantages of unsecured loans

When a business requires only a small amount, an unsecured loan is a better alternative than a secured one, especially if the business does not want to expose its financial assets to the risk of repossession. Also, those companies that do not possess sufficiently valued assets for the amount they require can find easy access to working capital finance with unsecured business loans.

Such loans also act as a good source of funds for companies that are already trading. Since the loan is unsecured, the lenders decide upon its amount by simply assessing the trading position of the business. Background checks are performed on credit history, cash flow position, cash reserves and balance sheet.

Unsecured business loans are quicker to obtain than secured loans. We provide funds to our clients within 3 days once they submit the necessary documents and clear the eligibility criteria. As against this, private banks take more than two weeks in forwarding the grant, while public sector unit banks can take 4-6 weeks for the same.

If your business needs immediate financial support and you are hesitant to offer any collateral to the lender, unsecured business credit will work for your best interests. By choosing Capital Float as your trusted finance partner, you are assured of a quick digital process to submit your application. The entire loan disbursal process is completed in three simple steps, given below:

  • Upload the minimum required documents on our website
  • Receive approval in minutes if your paperwork makes the business eligible for loan
  • Get the funds within next 72 hours

Do not let the long-drawn processes of conventional funding delay the pace of your venture’s development. In the digital age, unsecured corporate loans can conveniently help you accelerate your business growth.

Oct 24, 2018

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With a dream to revolutionize business lending in India, Capital Float provides loans to small businesses – YourStory

Written by Pardeep Goyal

The Indian business environment is exciting especially now, where every bright idea is turning into a business, big or small. There are over 30 million SMEs in India. Small businesses are run by passionate entrepreneurs, but unlike digital startups, venture capital money is not accessible to them. Despite efforts, some of these businesses are losing out on growth or shut shop due to lack of working capital.

With a dream to revolutionise business lending in India, Gaurav Hinduja and Shashank Rishyasringa are changing the business of money lending with Capital Float.

Initially, Shashank was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company, where he advised several leading financial institutions, investment funds, governments and foundations on business strategy, governance, operations and risk management. Co-founder Gaurav was running operations at India’s big apparel manufacturer Gokaldas Exports with over 40,000 people and USD 250 million in revenues.

The duo were at Stanford together before they co-founded Capital Float. They considered various business ideas but doing something related to capital was a natural inclination for them. So they decided to take on the money lending problem for small businesses.

How Capital Float works?

According to Gaurav, Capital Float works in three basic steps:

  1. Customer has to apply online,
  2. Submit documents,
  3. He/she gets a loan if eligible in about three days.

Yes, just three days for loan!

He adds, “We make sure to go through as many data points as available, including external data sources to determine credit worthiness. Once we have established that, we have been able to disburse a loan in under three days and in a lot of cases where the loan is small, it happens instantaneously. In the future, we hope to reduce that time for disbursal even further.”

Team Capital Float understands the importance of friendly capital, and is quick to deliver that much-needed finance to promising businesses that approach them. It is rare in India that a small business can get a loan in such a short time from any traditional finance company. Gaurav says, “Besides the swiftness and hassle-free nature of our service, one of the key USP is that we do not charge a prepayment penalty and our products have dynamic tenures that suit our customer’s needs.”

Key Challenges and Motivation

Starting up always comes with its set of challenges. At Capital Float, they went through the motions like everyone else: from the initial days of hiring the right team to defining clear goals, to ensuring compliance.

For startups, challenges are part of the larger scheme of things to survive and grow. Capital Float is an RBI-certified NBFC but registration was not an easy task. “At one point, we almost quit and took a break for a couple of months. But we understood regulation is very important in a complex market like India and we got back on track and persisted with our goals”, says Gaurav.

Gaurav shares how the company started conversations with their customers in the early days: “Most traditional loan providers find reasons to say ‘no’ to an entrepreneur looking for capital, but we look for a reason to say yes.”

The company has come a long way now; it is serving in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai and has testimonials from CFO of Zovi and other big brands.

According to Gaurav, today’s SMEs will drive tomorrow’s billion dreams. “But we need to ask ourselves who the driving and supporting force behind such SMEs are today,” he adds. The dream to revolutionise business lending in the country has kept Gaurav and Shashank going. “The fact that we get close to a hundred applications a day vindicates our belief in what we set out to do: create a capital revolution in India,” says Gaurav.

Being an entrepreneur himself in the fin-tech domain, Gaurav believes that entrepreneurs form the backbone of the Indian economy as the creators of the largest number of jobs and biggest contributors to the GDP. A significant hurdle for most of them is timely access to appropriate finance.

He shares some advice for entrepreneurs working in the financial domain and other budding startups:

  • Compliance is key; never ignore it
  • You should choose investors who share your vision
  • Don’t give up easily; starting up can initially wear you out but it should not bring you down
  • Don’t always hire for skills. Sometimes it’s important to hire for values
  • Don’t make promises to the customer that you cannot deliver on
  • Don’t launch your product in too many markets at once. Have a soft launch first, test it, tweak it and then re-launch the revised product

Gaurav adds, “There are many banks and NBFCs which provide loans to businesses, but you need to become a partner to your customer, not a lender. Use technology and big data to improve your customer’s experience. Understand how different customers use your products in different markets so that you can customise your product to meet their needs.”

Piece sourced from YourStory. You can read the full piece here.

Oct 24, 2018

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3 Things To Do When Applying For Business Loans

The growth of the SME (small and medium enterprises) segment, which contributed nearly 40% of India’s exports, has been restricted by the lack of access to timely finance. Only 4% of 57.7 million small business units in the country have access to formalized finance, leaving many to rely on informal lenders, who charge exorbitant interest rates. Requirements like collateral and detailed documentation as well as the long processing and disbursement time of loans deter SMEs from approaching traditional financial institutions. Thus continues the huge gap between the need for funds by SMEs and the amount of funds actually approved as loans.

This severe shortfall needed to be addressed, especially given the importance of SMEs to India’s economy. This is where FinTech companies like Capital Float have risen to the occasion, offering new business loans that are aligned to address specific needs of the SME sector. While cutting-edge technology is being deployed to make innovative financial products available to smaller businesses, SMEs must be aware of the available finance options to take make an informed decision.

SMEs make some common mistakes when applying for secured and unsecured loans. As a result of these mistakes, their loan applications may get rejected. Here are some tips for small businesses to avoid rejection of their business loan applications.

Be organized

Banks and other lending institutions would require certain documents to verify the claims made by a business. The decision to sanction a loan is taken by the lender after evaluating the prospects of a business, its ability to repay the loan amount and its previous credit record. This is done by checking various documents certifying the presence and existence of a business, its financial statements, taxes paid by it and other documents that indicate the financial standing of the business and the business owner(s). To ensure speedy approval of its loan application, a business must organize its documents and submit these in an orderly manner to the lending firm.

Any kind of delay in submitting the desired documents may be viewed negatively by the lender and could even derail the whole process. So, every business seeking a short term loan needs to be organized about its documentation. All the papers should be ready for submission when applying online for a loan. Your swiftness in providing the necessary information along with requisite documents can speed up the approval process.

Be Mindful of Your Credit Profile

The credit profile of the business owner or owners plays a key role in the ability of the SME to secure a business loan. Ensuring a good credit profile is not difficult. This is possible by ensuring that all your credit card and bill payments are made on time. The timely repayment of all due amounts including the ones relating to any existing loans helps improve the credit score.

Often business owners ignore their credit score thinking that it would not impact their ability to secure a loan for their business. They fail to understand the significant negative impact this can have on their business. It is important for business owners to regularly check their credit scores and take the necessary steps to improve them. Such efforts can ease the process of securing finance for the business in the future. In some cases, the credit scores do not even reflect the true situation. Regular monitoring can help business owners rectify the errors in the scores and boost their chances of getting loans on time.

Have A Firm Business Plan

Seeking loans without any kind of business plan may result in the loan application being rejected. A business plan is a reflection of the goals, the purpose of a business and ways to achieve them. It shows how a business intends to operate and how much funds are needed and at what time. A clear business plan not only helps a small business to ease the process of loan application, but also to determine the specific amount of funds required. This in turn enables the business to apply for a business loan well in advance besides providing the lender clarity into the purpose for which the loan is sought.

Thus, a well laid out business plan helps a business provide answers to questions like:

  • How much loan is required and for what purpose?
  • How quickly are the funds required and for what duration?
  • What is the current financial standing of the business and when will the business be able to repay the borrowed amount?
  • Does the business need secured or unsecured loans?

With FinTech lenders like Capital Float offering an array of innovative products, small businesses also need clarity to enable them to choose the loan that is most appropriate for them. A business plan would also help with this. In the absence of a business plan, the screening process may take longer and the chances of rejection of the loan application are also higher.

A business seeking a loan should not borrow from the first lender it comes across. Instead, it’s advisable to do thorough research and compare the loan terms offered.

Capital Float helps small businesses seeking loans to identify the right type of loan for their working capital needs, besides offering multiple repayment options. The use of advanced algorithms helps to underwrite businesses uniquely, check the repayment ability in absence of credit scores and develop customized lending solutions to suit the individual requirements of potential borrowers.

Oct 24, 2018