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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Coding Guidelines: Programmer’s Daily Bread and Butter

As we work in startup, we are under time pressure to release a lot of new features on time, features which do not have well defined requirements and the complexity of those features is often underestimated and we end up taking a lot of shortcuts / adding hacks to release such time sensitive features.

This may work for a short time, but over the period of time we realize that the same shortcuts that you took to release features quickly are now slowing you down. You can not scale and add new features on top of it, even if you do, they become quite unstable. In this situation you might want to take a step back and revamp/refactor you base system.

One of the easiest things that you can do to avoid this situation is follow coding guidelines.

Coding Standards

Well, what according to you is a good code? The simple definition could be: if it can’t be understood, maintained and extended by other developers then its definitely not a good code. The computer doesn’t care whether your code is readable. It’s better at reading binary machine instructions than it is at reading high-level-language statements. You write readable code because it helps other developers to read your code.

Naming conventions:

As the name suggests, it is a simple concept where you follow a specific naming conventions across teams. This becomes important when your team is growing and are solving problems on daily basis and pushing a lot of code every day.

camelcases vs underscore

This helps a lot when your team becomes big and a lot of developers are working on the same code-base. If you follow some fixed patterns while defining classes/functions/variables names, it becomes really easy for fellow colleagues to understand your code. This directly impacts delivery time taken by a developer to build/modify a feature on top of existing code. For example, let us suppose you want to define a time-stamp field in a database table, how would you name it ? If you have a fixed pattern like a “action_ts” or “action_at” for giving names then you can easily guess what could be the field name in the schema. If its a created time-stamp then it could be either “created_at” or “created_ts”. You do not have to go and check every-time you writing any logic over different database tables.

Function/Module/API writing (Size and Purpose)

Simplicity and readability counts. It’s always better to write to concise code than a messier one so that if any other developer is also looking at it who has no idea, should get what exactly it is doing. Not more than max 10–15 lines. Jenkins is considered as one of the greatest implementations, and has average function length of 2 lines.

A function/module should only do ONE thing and should do it NICELY. By following this, code becomes modular and it helps a lot in debugging. You can solve the problem better and debug faster when you know where exactly it’s coming.

When you are developing features over an established products, more than 50% times, new requirements are of the nature which you can build on top of existing code. In such cases, you can ship those requirements really faster and stable if existing code-base is modular and stable. Writing library functions a savior. There are countless advantages of writing a library code. It avoids code repetition, no surprises when it comes to response formats and of-course code re-usability.

Exception/Error Handling

Unknown errors are real pain in developers life. It’s always better if you know probable exceptions and errors in code in advance. But that is not the case always. Irrespective of all this, you definitely do not want your end-users to see unexpected errors on their screens.

When you have different micro-services and bigger development teams, if you follow standard response formats for across APIs and standard exceptions then there will not be any surprises in production. You can agree upon one format across all the services. Every API can have certain ‘response_data’ and standard set of error-codes. Every Exception will have an error-code and a message. Message could have variation viz, tech specific message and user facing message.

Writing test cases:

If you want to have a good night sleep, then you better have thorough test cases covering almost all aspects of your code. The best way forward with building test cases is at requirement stage only. Whenever a requirement comes, products managers discuss it with developers as well as QA. Both teams start preparing for possible use-cases and test-cases.

A testing unit should focus on one tiny bit of functionality and prove it correct. Each test unit must be fully independent. Each test must be able to run alone, and also within the test suite, regardless of the order that they are called. The implication of this rule is that each test must be loaded with a fresh data-set and may have to do some cleanup afterwards.

Automation plays an important role here. What else is needed for stable product where you have all test cases covered and running at intervals automatically, giving you a report of the all functionalities. Also, whenever you are adding/modifying code, you make sure either you write new test cases or modify existing ones.

coding

Code Reviews:

This one thing save lives, trust me! Every team can benefit from code reviews regardless of development methodology. Initially it takes time if you do not have a procedure setup of doing code reviews, but eventually it becomes a habit. Code review should be one of the core development steps.

Code review generally is about:

  • Does the new code conform to existing style guidelines?
  • Does the written piece of code covers all the use-cases specified in the requirements and has relevant test cases written ?
  • Are the new automated tests sufficient for the new code? Do existing automated tests need to be rewritten to account for changes in the code?

There are several advantages of this process such as –

Code reviews make for better estimates: Estimation is a team exercise, and the team makes better estimates as product knowledge is spread across the team. As new features are added to the existing code, the original developer can provide good feedback and estimation. In addition, any code reviewer is also exposed to the complexity, known issues, and concerns of that area of the code base. The code reviewer, then, shares in the knowledge of the original developer of that part of the code base.

Code reviews mentor new joiners: Code reviews help facilitate conversations about the code base between team members. During these conversations, team members share their views and new alternatives of doing things.

Code reviews take time: It’s an incremental process, where it takes time initially but as your code-base grows, it ensures, you are always pushing verified and tested code.

Hidden truth about code reviews: When developers know their code will be reviewed by a teammate, they make an extra effort to ensure that all tests are passing and the code is as well-designed as they can make it so the review will go smoothly. That mindfulness also tends to make the coding process itself go smoother and, ultimately, faster.

As a fast growing company our self, these set of guidelines have helped us a lot in shipping stable features on time and helping to increase a healthy learning environment.

Source:- Capital Float’s Medium Blog

Oct 24, 2018

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When to Apply for Business Loan Online – 5 Scenarios

Being proactive never hurt anyone. This is especially true when it comes to running businesses. A successful enterprise needs a steady infusion of finances, and waiting till the very end could prove to be expensive, particularly in the current competitive scenario. Challenges will never cease to exist. The same holds true for business opportunities. Timely action coupled with advance planning for business development sets the leaders apart in a crowd.

How to get a business loan is a question fraught with ifs and buts. Capital Float, the leading alternative lending companies in the online space, assists in overcoming the unique credit needs of a variety of small businesses, thus providing an easy answer to the question.

Here are five scenarios wherein applying for a small business loans online becomes necessary.

1. When expansion is imminent

Small business loans are no longer viewed as a liability. If debt can enable you to seize a lucrative business opportunity, why not utilise it? Online business finances are geared to function according to individual needs, thus empowering a variety of small and medium business enterprises (SMEs). A flourishing business will sooner or later require physically expansion. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it has the cash on hand to make such a move.

Often, traditional banks either work too slow or fail to understand your business goals. Capital Float’s products are the best fit in such situations, and are tailored to fulfil unique credit requirements. Thus, small business goals such as expansion or renovation plans become achievable and affordable through alternative lending means.

Capital Float bridges the credit gap and equips a business in more ways than one by offering flexible access to low-cost capital. These include exploring new markets, a new marketing strategy or, realising expansion plans.

2.Purchase of business tools

Every business employs different tools. While one may require steel cutters, the other may need pizza ovens. Computers may be crucial to one business and curling irons to another. The point being that no business can do without a certain kind of specific equipment. An enterprise may either buy or lease it out.

It makes perfect financial sense to get business finance for purchasing indispensable equipment. Apart from getting a tax-cut, an enterprise can use these tools for the rest of their economic life and even sell it at a reasonable price later, if need be

The problem of how to get a business loan for buying equipment is made easy and convenient by Capital Float. Irrespective of a company’s cost-benefit analysis vis-à-vis buying or leasing business equipment, our customised financial products take care of all your liquidity needs.

3.Replenishing inventory

Sustaining a business in the current digital ecosystem requires continuous supply of inventory. This is especially true for companies working in the online space. Expanding to new marketplaces and staying ahead of the competition entails having enough inventory to meet customer demands. Falling short may jeopardise the reputation and prospects of B2B or B2C companies.

A business can conveniently avoid running into such a situation with Capital Float’s loan products. Enabling several types of small and medium businesses to replenish their inventory ahead of a season, these loan offerings take care of your seasonal inventory purchases. They involve short-term loans which companies normally pay off from profits once the season is over.

4.Boost working capital

Costs pile up long before the first sign of profits. Businesses invariably require working capital or daily cash for taking care of operations, which may range from repair of equipment to payment of salaries. Till the time a fledgling company can earn enough to cover its working capital needs, business loans come in extremely handy. Capital Float caters to a wide range of companies that require small business loans for running daily operations. Easily available without the hassle of lengthy paperwork and excruciatingly slow disbursement times, such loan offerings ensure smooth working of an enterprise. Easy access to timely credit is critical. This is especially true for startups, which require a certain amount of hand-holding initially. Working capital, which can be easily sought through a small business loan, ensures a comparatively smoother running of business.

Easy access to timely credit is critical. This is especially true for startups, which require a certain amount of hand-holding initially. Working capital, which can be easily sought through a small business loan, ensures a comparatively smoother running of business.

This is where Capital Float’s many different loan products make a difference. Small business loans empower entrepreneurs in several ways. These include helping to seize the next business opportunity, taking care of suppliers, using available funds as petty cash, improving profit margins, etc.

5.Change in the organizational life cycle

Every new business starts out as small, which is essentially a time to test the water. With time, business owners get to know the market and their customers better, and inevitably think of taking the bold step of expansion—either into new product/service categories or in terms of scale. This is when they require a business loan.

A smart way to go about this is to start with a small business loan and pay it off on time. This enables a business to build a healthy credit score, which can be advantageous when applying for large-scale financing for business expansion. “How to get a small business loan” is a question easily answered by online FinTech lenders like Capital Float. Build your business credit the easy way through our collateral-free short-term loans,

“How to get a small business loan” is a question easily answered by online FinTech lenders like Capital Float. Build your business credit the easy way through our collateral-free short-term loans, customized to specific needs. Thereafter, work your way up to a large-scale loan with business finance.

Running a profitable company in today’s globally competitive environment requires meticulous planning and timely cash inflows. With the use of big data and analytics, Capital Float can speed up the loan approval and disbursal process, empowering your business with timely credit, enabling you to focus on larger issues such as business growth and development.

Oct 24, 2018

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What is Capital Float’s Pay Later?

Business owners frequently face working capital challenges. Supplier payments are a constant concern for SMEs. In manufacturing, trading and services, where lead times are significantly high, businessmen often finance operations by resorting to informal channels of credit. Traders who deal with shorter sales cycles tend to miss out on large orders as they are unable to pay their suppliers large sums of money to make bookings.

Capital Float’s Pay Later works exceptionally well in these cases. Pay Later carries a pre- defined credit facility which is unique to each applicant depending on various factors, for instance, industry the applicant operates in, scale of the applicant’s business and some basic financial metrics. You can make multiple drawdowns from the assigned balance and pay interest only on amounts utilized. By repaying the amount used, you reset the balance for further usage, making Pay Later a flexible, rolling loan product.

For example, if you’ve been provided a credit facility of Rs 1 lakh, you can make up to 4 drawdowns of Rs 25,000 each. Upon your first drawdown, you have a balance of Rs 75,000. You will be charged interest on the drawdown (Rs 25,000) and not the entire amount (Rs 1,00,000). By repaying the amount used, your balance will be restored to Rs 1,00,000.

With Capital Float’s convenient mobile app, you can use this zero-collateral loan product from absolutely anywhere. To make payments, all you need to do is take a photograph of the invoice with your mobile phone and upload it using our app. The vendor is paid on your behalf within 24 hours of the upload.

Features

Pay Later is an incredibly fast and paperless access to credit that works along the similar lines of a credit card. The functionality of this product as the name suggests – use the facility now and simply pay later. Following are the salient features of the product:

1. Get credit of up to Rs. 25 Lacs

With Pay Later, you are eligible for credit of up to Rs. 25 Lacs, which ensures that you’re never short of funds.

2. Easy, hassle-free online application procedure

The entire procedure will take just 10 minutes of your time. To get started, you can sign-up on Capital Float using your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Fill a simple online application form and submit the requested documentation to conclude the process.

3. Get approved in 3 days

Where traditional financial institutions take up to 8-12 weeks, we assess your eligibility and offer you a customized credit amount within 72 hours.

4. Convenient repayment at the end of 30/60/90-day loan term

Pay Later offers three flexible repayment plans that work in accordance to your business cash flows. You can choose to repay loan amounts at the end of 30/60/90 days from the date the loan is utilized. This way, you’re never bogged down by hefty monthly instalments.

5. Pay distributors/suppliers via Capital Float’s convenient mobile app

Make payments with just a few taps on your smartphone via our mobile app that you can download for free from Play Store and App Store. The payment is confirmed instantly, and reaches the vendor’s account in less than 24 hours.

Benefits

1. Zero-Collateral

Pay Later is a collateral-free loan product, which means you don’t need to pledge your property or assets to avail the loan. Your credit amount is determined by the potential and profitability of your business.

2. Flexibility in drawdowns:

Pay Later allows you to use a portion of the total amount any time you wish to. For instance, if you have a credit facility of Rs. 10 lakhs, then you can utilise the full amount or a fraction of it at any given time, depending upon your requirement. The user-friendly mobile app efficiently keeps track of your balance, so that you can manage repayments accordingly. You can also draw amounts as low as 25,000 rupees, hence making this product extremely convenient to use.

3. Interest applicable only upon drawdown

You’re required to pay interest only for the amount you’ve utilised and not on the entire credit amount assigned to you.

Click here to read about the features and benefits in more detail.

Eligibility and Documents

The eligibility criteria for Pay Later is extremely simple. All you need is a small list of documents at the time of application:

Eligibility

  • Applicant’s business to have at least 2 years of vintage
  • Applicant must purchase from a reputed supplier
  • Applicant must have 3 months of transaction data with the supplier

Documents required

  • Audited financials for the last 2 years
  • VAT returns and bank documents for the last 6 months
  • KYC documents of the applicant as well as the organisation

How to Apply

Applying for credit via Pay Later involves a simple four-step procedure. As long as you have a computer or smartphone and a good internet connection, you can apply from anywhere. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Apply & get empaneled

Sign up on Capital Float’s website to kick-start the procedure. Fill out the form with your personal and professional details, and click on submit.

      2. Upload the necessary documents

The next step involves uploading the requested documents. This includes business vintage of two years along with some basic KYC documents.

     3. Receive instant approval

Receive approval on your application within hours. In less than 3 days from the time of application, your credit facility will be set up for your use.

    4. Credit facility ready for use

Once your credit amount is determined, you can start using Capital Float’s mobile app to create tranches by uploading invoices and making vendor payments.

Fees and Charges

At Capital Float, we conduct business in the most transparent manner possible. Therefore, you’re only obligated to pay a processing fee of up to 2% for the loan. Rest assured, there are no hidden or pre-closure charges that pop-up during or after your application procedure.

Oct 24, 2018