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

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Top 10 Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners

Time is money. No phrase proves this statement better than when you own a growing business.

As you strive to achieve your business aspirations, juggling responsibilities and managing activities end-to-end sums up a typical work day. You simply cannot afford to compromise on any of the processes at hand, because it might have a profound impact on the growth of your venture. The trick is to focus your productivity on the limited resources you have in a time-efficient manner till you can confidently handover the heavy lifting to experts. Successful businessmen will tell you the same, but in two words: time management.

Here are our favorite tried-and-tested time management tips for small business owners to save you time and make running your business easier.

1. Fix a Schedule and Stick to it

The best way to accomplish a productive day is to show up at work with a clearly defined set of goals and tasks, preferably hand-written. A disorganized schedule leads to ineptness and wasted hours, eventually leading to a loss of focus on business objectives. Account for every hour of the day, from the time needed for meetings and document review to travel and shopping. Create your schedule with three categories- one for the responsibilities that need to be completed that day, another for those activities that require your attention but can be put on hold and a third with minor tasks that you can work on if you have extra time. Know your downtime- you can use this for short breaks.

2. Focus on ONE Task at a Time

Multitasking might seem like a clever way to do many things within a short amount of time, but it divides your attention among the responsibilities at hand. Being a budding enterprise, this is not a risk that you want to take now. Instead, you can try the ‘Pomodoro technique’. This involves setting your timer for a specified time and focusing wholly on one task before the timer goes off. Repeat this after taking short breaks of 5 minutes between tasks. An efficient way to structure your time, this technique ensures that you devote time for a specific activity regularly.

3. Delegate Work

All small businesses are a one-man army early into their business operations. But your growth journey to becoming a larger enterprise begins when you start delegating responsibilities to expert personnel. Hire people who are dependable to manage tasks you don’t have time for or you are not suitably skilled for. This will give you more time to work on things that you are best at and need your personal attention. Keeping in mind that most growing enterprises might not be sufficiently funded to hire the right people, Capital Float offers Unsecured Business Loans to support the recruitment needs of these businesses.

4. Avoid Distractions

Any means of distraction is harmful for the growth of your business, as the work you do is very different compared to those of your employees. If you think your team members are wasting time on social media, set up a URL blocker on your system. You can forward calls, set up caps on answering emails or designate others to perform repeated tasks, if these are causing you to deviate from your daily schedule.

As you get busier, more people demand your time. Reducing distractions implies training the people around you to respect your time. Your employees tend to consume your time with constant problems or through attempts to garner your attention. Take steps to identify the major time-wasters and keep them at bay.

5. Prioritize difficult tasks

An effective time management hack is to start your work hours with the most challenging task at hand. Despite varying individual notions of productivity, mornings are accepted as the time of the day when you are at your optimum performance levels. This leaves the rest of the day to handle repercussions or developments, and you can work on other priorities with a relaxed frame of mind.

6. Watch out for ‘Shiny Objects’

Many a small business that has just entered the economic space face the ‘shiny object syndrome’ early into their growth phase. Shiny objects, or seemingly bright opportunities, keeping popping up from time to time and they tend to distract you from your business objectives. You can eliminate such time-wasters by asking for agendas before attending any business proposition and comparing new prospects with the value of opportunities at hand.

7. Organize your Work Space

There is no bigger demotivating factor than coming to a cluttered workspace every morning. Not only does it create an unorganized mental space, but according to recent surveys, makes you stay at office longer. Documents categorized into inbound and outbound piles, color-coded filing cabinets, scanning forms onto Outlook, and similar techniques will save you the trouble of rifling through scores of paperwork to find information.

8. Evaluate and Improvise Consistently

The worst thing to do to your business is to continue implementing processes that do not benefit your cause. Most small business owners might be busy with specific projects to spend time analyzing their business models. This is where a quarterly evaluation becomes the most significant of time management tips and strategies. A quarter, or three months, is relevantly sufficient amount of time required to determine the effectiveness of a strategy or a business relationship. Carrying out evaluations at the end of every quarter gives ambitious entrepreneurs better process insights and a chance to move in the right direction.

9. Measure Big Successes & Failures

One of the critical time management skills that a small business owner must possess is goal setting. Define scalable weekly business goals with an emphasis on a particular aspect of your business that you want to focus on, and evaluate the big wins and losses at the end of the week. What makes this strategy so productive is that here, failures are treated as important as successes, as early analysis saves the time that your team might have continued working on them.

10. Leverage Technology

Most small business owners spend more time running a business than growing it. Tasks like staff rotas, invoicing, payroll and tax consume more than 30 hours of productive time every month. With the infinite number of apps and services available online, technology can be used to fill the gap in your current business processes. Automating repetitive tasks such as these will help you save a lot of time to focus on activities that directly impact the growth of your business.

Oct 24, 2018

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SME Financing: A Variety of Options Available to Suit Your Needs

The 2017 Union Budget underlined the significant role that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play in the development of the country, in terms of industrial output, exports and generating employment. While SMEs contribute to the growth of the country, they face challenges in raising finances due to their size and their inability to provide adequate collateral.
Many SMEs have operational problems due to improper management and as a result, the lenders are wary about extending SME finance. To cover their risk, they charge higher rates of interest, insist on proper collateral, take extra efforts during due diligence, and even try to appoint their representative on the company board. Given the extra effort required when it comes to SME lending, traditional SME finance companies take a long time to disburse the loans.

Institutional route to SME finance

SME need loans to finance their working capital requirements. SME finance for working capital requirements traditionally starts with the establishment of cash credit, overdraft and working capital limits with the banks. SME finance is also required for purchasing assets and for expanding and scaling the business. For this purpose, term loans are secured from banks and SME finance companies for purchasing assets and for meeting other incidental expenses. Apart from these sources of finance, SMEs can also secure funds from the following traditional sources:

  • Export credit to finance the pre-shipment and post-shipment export-related activities.
  • Letters of Credit (LCs) and bank guarantees to facilitate trade and meet the performance and financial obligations.
  • Bill discounting where bills of exchange which are covered by LCs or bank guarantees are discounted by banks, NBFCs or SME finance companies.
  • Leasing where the banks, NBFCs or SME finance companies buy the asset on behalf of the SME and then lease it back to the SME.
  • Factoring and securitisation where illiquid assets are used to secure advances from banks, NBFCs or SME finance companies.
  • Venture capital investments from individual investors or companies.

Government impetus to SME lending

Recognising the issues faced by small businesses and their criticality to India’s development, the Government has initiated several measures to ease the credit availability for this segment.

  • The finance minister has set the lending target for SME finance at Rs 2.44 lakh crore for 2017. In other words the directive ensures that banks and financial institutions will disburse loans to SMEs collectively worth Rs 2.44 lakh crore through this year.
  • The Government’s Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) under the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), which secures the loans given by banks to SMEs, now has an increased outlay of Rs 2 crore from the earlier Rs 1 crore.
  • The 2017 Union Budget infused Rs 10,000 crore of capital into state-owned lending institutions to promote SME lending.
  • SMEs can continue to avail of loans under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, where SME finance is disbursed to small businesses as working capital loans or short-term loans. The amount ranges from Rs 50,000 to Rs 10 Lakh and no collateral is required as they are covered/secured by the CGS scheme.

Alternative SME finance channels

Rapid strides in technology are changing the banking and financial industry and several new channels of credit are emerging as viable alternatives for cash-strapped SMEs.
New age FinTech companies are using advanced technology to introduce new SME lending products that have quick and easy approval processes. Companies like Capital Float have made it easier to secure SME finance. Such new age SME finance companies have introduced online portals and mobile apps that can be used by SMEs to apply for and manage loans. They have simplified and shortened the loan approval process by using big data and analytics to evaluate loan applications.
New age SME finance companies like Capital Float have also introduced innovative financial products for customised SME lending. These new SME lending solutions include:

Collateral-free financing solutions: These are unsecured loans given by the SME finance companies to SMEs who cannot or do not want to provide any security. FinTech SME finance companies like Capital Float use technology to swiftly assess the credit-worthiness of the loan applicants and speed up disbursal so that a business owner can receive the loan amount in their account within 72 hours. Capital Float also has easy and flexible repayment terms which make the loan easier for SMEs to manage.

Merchant cash advances or credit card receivables: These unsecured loans or advances can be availed of by SMEs who use Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminals. The amount advanced is dependent on the monthly credit card sales generated on the point-of-sale machine.

Online seller finance: This is a working capital loan given to e-commerce vendors for managing their day-to-day operations and leveraging business opportunities.

Supply chain finance: In this kind of financing, the SME finance company liquidates the borrower’s invoices by paying up to 80% of the invoice value to the borrower.

Capital Float is one of the leading SME finance companies that uses FinTech to create SME-friendly credit options. It provides short term unsecured loans to SMEs, and a basket of customised financial products that cater to the needs of small entrepreneurs. These include online seller finance, supply chain finance, merchant cash advance, and Pay Later, which is a revolving credit facility.

Oct 24, 2018

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List Of Requirements For Taxi Financing

The radio taxi business in India has seen a big boom in the last few years. Whether it’s the number of taxis or users, both have seen an upward swing. Analysts foresee an even higher growth in future. Viable basic fare along with lucrative incentives makes radio taxis an ideal choice for customers and drivers alike. However, using a rented car restricts a driver’s earnings considerably, as they work on fixed salaries. This is where Capital Float’s Taxi Finance steps in as an ideal taxi loan choice for drivers who aspire to have a car of their own and earn more.

Our association with some of the largest taxi aggregators in India makes taxi financing a smart choice for an Uber loan or other kind of taxi loans. It provides an opportunity for drivers across the country to purchase cars and fulfill their dream of becoming microentrepreneurs. Securing a taxi loan from a traditional finance institution or bank can often be a tough task. With multiple evaluations and lengthy procedures, getting a taxi loan successfully from these institutions is a time-consuming prospect. Failing to meet any of their highly demanding requirements can lead to loan rejection. In contrast, Capital Float offers an easy process for procuring a taxi loan with fast processing and minimal documentation.

To successfully avail of a taxi or Uber loan, there are some basic requirements borrowers need to fulfill. If their application meets these requirements, they can get taxi loans like Uber loan and Ola finance surprisingly fast. Here is the list of taxi financing requirements, which are needed for a taxi loan.

1. Down payment: The applicant is required to pay a certain sum as down payment for availing taxi loans. The high down payment required by traditional lenders and banks often deters drivers from owning a car of their own. This is where Capital Float’s taxi financing differs from conventional lenders. Capital Float provides a taxi loan for an easily affordable down payment — one of the lowest in the industry.

2. Valid driving license: Borrowers must have a valid driving license to apply for an Uber loan. Not having one will mean their application could be rejected.

3. Valid taxi permit license/badge: The applicant must have a valid taxi permit license or badge to be eligible to apply for taxi finance. The time period for the taxi permit/badge can vary with lenders. At Capital Float, the applicants need to have a valid taxi permit license/badge that is one year old for new drivers with the taxi aggregators.

4. KYC documents:  To be eligible for taxi financing, applicants need to submit KYC (Know Your Customer) documents at the time of application. At Capital Float, we request minimum documentation and ensure a hassle-free processing of the taxi or Uber loan. The application process for taxi loan at Capital Float happens online. This makes the process more convenient where the applicant can upload the documents directly with minimal paperwork.

Though all of the above are mandatory requirements for getting any kind of taxi loan including Uber loan and Ola finance, there are certain other things the applicant should keep in mind while applying for an Uber loan. This makes it easier for drivers or applicants to pick a lender that suits them the most.

Flexibility in repayment: The repayment of taxi loans can sometimes stretch the borrower beyond capacity with equated monthly payments or EMIs. If drivers have a more flexible option for repayment, it can bring down the pressure of EMIs to a large extent. Capital Float provides a weekly repayment option for taxi loans. This reduces the size of the installments and ensures payments are not carried over/missed. This can be a big boon in a business where daily earnings are dependent on factors beyond the control of the borrower.

Processing fee: Besides having time-consuming and complex processes, traditional banking institutions levy a processing fee. This can vary depending upon the lender and generally tends to be higher in traditional banking institutions. At Capital Float, however, we charge only a minimal amount as processing fee in a bid to keep things transparent and enable our customers.

Ease of application: It’s the age of digitization and online is the preferred channel for an taxi loan application. Capital Float’s taxi loan applications can be made online, require minimal documentation for processing and are disbursed within 3 days.

Hidden charges: Pre-closure charges which are levied by banks and conventional lenders are an additional burden for borrowers. These charges prevent borrowers from closing the loan early even if they can. Capital Float levies no pre-closure charge and borrowers are free to close the taxi loan before the completion of the loan tenure.

Collateral:  Typically, banks tend to sanction a taxi loan if the applicant has substantial collateral, which can be used to recover a bad debt. Capital Float however disburses taxi loans without requesting for collateral, thus improving the chances of many applicants to secure an Uber loan or other taxi financing.

Processing time: Applicants who wish to get a car of their own at the earliest are discouraged by the long time taken to process traditional loans. Due to late loan disbursements, they end up losing valuable business. Capital Float’s taxi financing process is prompt, and funds are credited within just 3 days to enable drivers to start earning at the earliest.

Capital Float’s taxi financing with minimal requirements along with prompt processing makes it an ideal choice for aspiring microentrepreneurs who hope to succeed in radio taxi business.

Oct 24, 2018