The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

3 reasons to level up your programming skills — March 23, 2014

3 reasons to level up your programming skills

This is a sponsored post from our friends at General Assembly London.

web_dev

There was a time when computer nerds were seen as misfits (watch the 1984 movie ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ if you don’t believe me). These days, that characterization couldn’t be further from the truth. Programmers, computer engineers, and data scientists are hailed as leaders in the business, technology, and design communities.

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Your clients don’t need a bug tracker — November 17, 2013

Your clients don’t need a bug tracker

This is a sponsored post by our friends at BugHerd.

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There are about a million and one bug trackers on the market. Ranging from enterprise­scale behemoths to souped up spreadsheets and everything in between. While this staggering range of options has served development teams for decades it is becoming clear that our evolution of our development processes is outpacing those of our tools.

As web development, and particularly internet startups, move towards iterative cycles with a focus on the customer, sourcing feedback has shifted from being an activity carried out at the start and end of development to one that is ongoing throughout the life of a project. Most bug trackers focus on the task of cataloguing issues, however, their usefulness is wholly dependent on the quality of bug reports being submitted, and herein lies the problem.

Your customers don’t want to file bug reports, they just want their problems solved.

There’s no way to get a customer to log their bug into your tool of choice, so inevitably you spend hours deciphering problems from emails only to end up having to log all the issues yourself anyway. Making matters worse is the fact that often customers are non­technical. Getting the right information that is necessary to catalogue an issue can be like getting blood from a stone.

The worst part is that often the process doesn’t solve the problem the customer had in the first place, it creates another one, more emails, more miscommunication and results in both of you spending more time and potentially more money. Customer feedback should be a first class citizen, not just an afterthought.

It’s hardly surprising then, that according to a 2011 survey of web developers and designers* more than 55% of respondents didn’t use a bug tracking or issue management system at all when dealing with client feedback. The majority of digital agencies and startups actually still rely on using good old fashioned email (20%) or pen and paper (18%) to log and resolve problems reported by customers! It’s clear that there is opportunity for teams to investigate capturing customer feedback in a less onerous and manual way.

Think about how many times you have gone back and forth repeatedly with a customer? In trying to work out exactly what the issue is, are you frequently missing essential information such as exactly what page the bug is on, what browser they’re using, or even their operating system or screen resolution? Trying get answers to these questions in emails can lead to miscommunication, frustration and a lot of wasted time.

You need a tool that provides this relevant information along with the bug report.

If your customers or stakeholders are less than technical minded, you may want to consider the benefits of a hosted bug tracking solution. As there is no installation, it’s easy for those with limited computer knowledge to get up and running and without the usual technical training required. Hosted products usually supply a collection of helpful online guides to get even novice users involved. For the technical team, there are no updates to install, the software should be constantly improving/updated and infrastructure costs are reduced. There is also the benefit of easy collaboration for geographically disperse teams which is critical given the rise in telecommuting and international teams.

A secondary part of the survey queried designers about which tools were used to manage internal tasks. Whilst it’s great that 44% did utilise tools such as Basecamp or Google Docs, it scarily leaves 56% with no formal means of managing projects or tracking issues internally. Considering the majority of more traditional software engineers are using bug trackers like JIRA, Redmine or Pivotal, it’s disconcerting that amongst web developers traditional bug tracking tools are still not prevalent. There are an increasing number of “simple” bug trackers available which are better suited to the needs of the web developer/designer, just ensure your projects aren’t stuck in a silo; integrations with legacy tools such as JIRA are a must.

The list can be very long and searching for the right bug tracking tool can be tedious. As you can see, a bug tracker needs to provide far more than being merely a place to catalogue issues and errors. You must also consider the needs of your customers, your design team and stakeholders, not just the engineers.

BugHerd is currently available on a free trial for 14 days and we think you’ll love it for your bug tracking and client feedback capture needs.

* 2011 Survey conducted by UsabilityHub of 11,000 members, split evenly between designers, front­-end developers and UX experts.

BugHerd was born in 2011 out of the desire to be able to visually manage and track bugs on a website. Users embed the application directly into a website, so bugs are flagged and managed visually (complete with screenshot) without the need to fill out lengthy forms or send emails back and forth to clients. Simply put, BugHerd is the fastest and simplest bug tracking tool available for the web.

Visit­ bugherd.com, email the team or you can follow them on Twitter via @bugherd.

Event Review: WordCamp Sydney — August 5, 2012

Event Review: WordCamp Sydney

This event review is brought to you by Doug Millen, from our Fetch Community Ambassador team in Sydney.

WordCamp brings together WordPress end-users and developers to share good ideas for doing great things with WordPress. WordCamp events are held regularly all over the world, and on 21-22 July 2012, WordCamp came to the University of Sydney for two days of community-building, as well as fascinating insights and useful ways for using WordPress effectively. Here are eight lessons I learned from my weekend at WordCamp.

1. There’s a community doing great things with WordPress in Australia.

People came from all over Australia and New Zealand for WordCamp Sydney – this was no small weekend workshop. I was delighted to meet developers, users and business owners from everywhere, including Travis, a developer from Adelaide, who helped me to see that events like WordCamp bring a sense of belonging and connectedness for freelancers who thrive on spending time in a community of people who work with the same tools.

WordCamp Sydney has been great for bringing together a community of people who work with WordPress.

Travis Hensgen @_traversal

Between them, WordCamp organisers Dee, Tracey, Peter and Alison have travelled to four WordCamp events across Australia and New Zealand in the last 12 months – and now they’ve brought WordCamp to Sydney again. It really was inspiring to hear Dee talk about the excitement she feels in bringing together this group of people.

2. You can do pretty much anything with WordPress.

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world (ref) – even the New York Times uses WordPress. Tony Cosentino showed off a plugin for nearly every purpose (but warned not to install too many). Sofia Woods shared principles and tools for building, managing, and maintaining communities with WordPress. Several other talks covered everything you might need from back-to front-end, including themes, extensions, SEO and commerce (all slides here).

3. Accessibility is important. Really important.

Some one in five Australians have some form of disability, but accessibility isn’t just about providing a ramp into a store for people with mobility difficulties. Accessibility is also about making websites and multimedia interactive and understandable for users with different abilities of sight, hearing and physical dexterity.

Joe Ortzenzi gave a super simple (and funny) walkthrough of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, with examples of poor design and accessibility and gave a few tips for making sites and online media more accessible:

  • Use alt tags to provide informative descriptions of photographs for users with impaired sight.
  • Add a ‘skip to content’ link on each site page so that users with screen readers don’t have to listen to the entire navigation sequence.
  • Use semantic structure in your code (title, h1, h2, em) so that even if your site doesn’t look pretty it still makes sense.

Joe recommended the great new Sydney-based service Access iQ for helping developers better understand and implement web accessibility standards.

4. When blogging, just write – focus on perfection is your worst enemy.

Kate Carruthers was full of useful tips on blogging, but two ideas stood out and everyone was relieved to hear them!

Blogs are full of ideas and thoughts captured in time. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t write a masterpiece – it’s about getting your content out there and starting discussion around it.

A blog is like a puppy: don’t get one if you can’t look after it properly.

Kate Carruthers @kcarruthers

Kate gave common sense advice for getting started with WordPress sustainably and carefully (and legally). Check out Kate’s slides for helpful resources.

5. You can make a visually appealing, functional site with WordPress.

Phil Peet teaches design at a TAFE in Sydney. In his talk he broke down the process of setting up a WordPress site into the simple things the casual user wants to get started with.

6. There are tools for WordPress that make SEO easy.

Lisa Davis laid everything out on the table – everything you need to take care of to ensure that search engines understand your site and connect you with the people you want to reach. Lisa explained how to use title, h1 and h2 tags (step 1: don’t ignore them), listed the best plugins for SEO on WordPress (Yoast was mentioned by multiple presenters), and reminded us to use 301 redirects and to place content on 404s so that we don’t lose visitors.

7. There’s is a lot that can be done on your server to speed up your site.

Good morning, freedom-lovers! began Jeff Waugh’s 3 pm high performance guide to WordPress. One of the strongest characters at WordCamp, Jeff gave insights into what goes on inside servers running WordPress, including how php works and how you can refine your server to your advantage. He recommended using nginx instead of apache to reduce the amount of shovelling that goes on. To keep things speedy, he suggests hosting web services and DNS close to your audience. This means don’t host from Texas if all of your visitors are in Melbourne and Sydney.

Give WordPress to someone you love.

Jeff Waugh @jdub

In one of his examples, Jeff used webpagetest.org to show site load times – pretty cool for exploring what parts of the entire process of loading your website are letting you down.

8. Become an expert in the tech you know and love.

Find a framework you can become great at and use it, rather than just being good at it – unless you really need the money!

Bronson Quick @bronsonquick

Bronson Quick is a bit of a WordPress pro and his advice was well-received! There was pretty strong representation of developers who use the Genesis framework (including co-organiser Dee). So it’s not just about WordPress – it’s themes, extensions like widgets and plugins, child themes, the list goes on…!

Connect
All presentation slides from the event are available on SlideShare and keep an eye out in The Fetch for future WordPress Sydney meet-ups.  A big thank you to Alison, Dee, Peter and Tracey for organising this event and having us along to WordCamp 2012. We’ll see you next year.

About our Ambassador // This article and photography were contributed by Community Ambassador Doug Millen. You can connect with Doug through his site dougmillen.org or on Twitter @dougsky.

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