OTS Solutions - US IT Consulting & Software Development Experts

  • UI UX Services OTS

    Wireframing Vs. Prototyping: What’s the Difference?

    Prototyping and wireframing are discussed fairly regularly in the early stages of UI/UX design for software. It may seem that these concepts are interchangeable when in actuality they are drastically different. While both produce useful deliverables and help advance the development lifecycle, each requires different skills and produces different end results.

    Wireframing

    Often, when someone has an idea for an app, they begin development by deciding how the app might look. By sketching the user interface on cards or a whiteboard, it becomes possible to extract functional and other requirements for what must be built.

    Wireframes can be drawn in many ways. The simplest designs may start out as simple ink sketches on paper. Notecards are a great way to add size constraints to the interface, and to rapidly swap out components in order to simulate how using the app might feel. Later on in the process, the designs might be transferred to tablets or other digital media, and may even be exported as an interface draft for initial app prototypes.

    Wireframes are useful tools in UI/UX design for software. They allow designers and developers to quickly get a sense for how an app might look without technical constraints. Wireframes also facilitate extracting interface components, UI requirements and technical goals from an idea. Yet, while a wireframe achieves much, what it accomplishes is only skin deep.

    Prototyping

    Wireframes only address how software looks. Prototype development is essential to truly get a sense for how an idea will actually work. Prototyping is a stage in software development where code is written to begin putting an idea into practice.

    Instead of merely drawing interface components, prototypes actually lay out a basic user interface with whatever widgets are appropriate for the platform. Prototypes also create just enough interaction to make the app feel usable. In this stage, it is more important to experience the app than it is to start building a sound technical foundation.

    Prototyping should not be thought of as beginning to build an app. In other words, prototype development tests the idea. It may do this by faking some features, eliminating others, and deferring any significant technical decisions until software development on the idea itself begins. Be prepared to throw away the prototype once it has tested the specific assumptions about the design.

    Wireframing and Prototyping

    Exactly how these stages interact varies widely. Some development companies wireframe before prototyping so the prototype’s user interface feels more polished. Others start with a prototype, taking more time to build an interface that connects directly to working code. There is no right answer, and the choice is ultimately determined by what works best for a given team’s skills.

    But each has its advantages. Wireframing is great for covering lots of ground without building out technology. Prototyping gives a deeper sense for how a narrower piece of the app might work. Both are useful stages in the software development process.

  • Software QA & Testing External

    4 reasons third party QA team better for making better software?

    Four Reasons an External QA Team is Better for Software Development 
    Software development can be a costly endeavor, even for businesses that have already have a fully staffed development team. It may seem counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to save money is to actually outsource developmental duties to external QA teams. If your goal is to make a better software product, then finding a solid QA team that has a proven track record can dramatically cut down on costs while also fulfilling all of the necessary development goals. The benefits of an external QA team can essentially be summarized in four main points.

    1. It Cuts Down on Costs

    As previously mentioned, quality assurance teams can cut down on development costs by dedicating less resources to the tasks at hand. As software engineering teams are focused on developing their specific software product, you don’t have to worry about them spreading out their resources or diverting time to other tasks that have nothing to do with the product. This, in effect, means the product will be ready to go in less time and with less of a hassle. For companies that already have in-house development teams, hiring an external third party can also cut down on costs by helping a complex project be completed quicker. The faster a product can enter the market, the less costly it will be to develop.

    2. It Streamlines Development Processes

    Software development is an inherently complicated process that can almost always benefit from streamlining. By bringing in a third party and working directly with them, you can see areas that need improvement within your own development team. This forced adaptation in a collaborative environment is far more valuable than just the product development alone.

    3. They Provide Greater Expertise

    While there are certainly many testers that work on a smaller software team for a larger company, they will never be as effective as a professional third party development team that solely works on software testing on a daily basis. By working for a wide array of companies, independent teams also gain unique insight into projects that other teams may not be as familiar with. This, in turn, means greater efficiency and design input on software projects than would otherwise be possible.

    4. You Gain an Objective Perspective

    By hiring a third party team to develop and test software, you can wash your hands of any issues that may turn up later. Of course, the real value lies in the testing team’s own perspective too. When you get too close to a project, it’s only natural that you begin to see the bugs as “features.” With a third-party look at the project though, bugs and glitches that were previously overlooked can be brought back to the forefront.

    While it’s certainly possible to develop software on your own, the benefits of a professional software testing team far outweigh any benefits from trying to complete the same project with your own resources.

  • Security testing for software

    Have you tested your product for security? What technology startups of today must take care of in terms of security?

    Don’t Neglect Product Security

    Software products are coming to replace employees and business processes at an increasing rate. While an app’s ability to handle automation is usually an asset, it also increases the need for testing software products before release. Since software often handles crucial personal, financial and business details, its security should not be neglected. Security testing is complex and should often be outsourced for best results, but here are a few of the most common security stumbles software products make.

    Secure the Password

    A username/password combination is the most common way to gain access to software products. You can and should advise your customers on how to choose good passwords, but that advice works both ways.

    For instance, we all might agree that writing passwords on a piece of paper near the computer is a bad idea, but storing them unhashed in the database is the same as writing them down, and many companies do just that. Anyone who compromises your server not only has access to your customer’s data, but might also get their password if you’ve not taken basic measures to secure it. Since many passwords are reused, a password breach on your site might translate into access to customer email or social media accounts.

    Guard Personal Information

    Passwords aren’t the only secure details your software may need to retain. You may find yourself storing street addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other details that might transform a casual data breach into a significant disaster for your customers.

    Here, too, encrypting data may prove useful. Unfortunately, in cases where your site or app requires said data to function, encryption may impose a usability barrier if it must be decrypted to query. In some advanced cases, it might be prudent to store some information such as medical data with specialized services for that purpose.

    Be Careful What You Handle

    It may seem easy to process and store credit cards locally rather than working with an external provider. Unfortunately, doing so is complicated and opens your business up to many additional security threats and regulations.

    It is better to partner with external services in these instances. Not only do they comply with necessary regulations, but they also provide simple interfaces to ensure that data is transferred securely, and only what is necessary is retained in the local database. Additionally, when regulations change, your partner changes with them. After all, your first concern when testing software products shouldn’t be changes to credit card or medical regulations, but the growth and improvement of your app or service.

    Conclusion
    ]
    None of the above mitigations replace a solid security audit. But, in reality, most criminal acts aren’t elaborate heists. Instead, they’re simply a matter of someone slipping through the mistakenly unlocked door, thus gaining sudden and complete access. If customer trust is important to your business, security testing should not be neglected in the product development cycle.

     

  • Webinar - Startups idea to exit

    What does it take to grow your startup from idea to exit! [Webinar]

    Being a startup and technology entrepreneur is never easy. It all starts with a unique idea that you believe is a killer and will disrupt the things are done in market at present. But is it only an idea that takes you to make it into a successful unicorn? Not really!

    Starting and growing into a successful startup needs a complex mix of skills that need just not good strategic thinking and vision but excellent execution abilities. How does one figure out what to do, how to do, when to do without having done this earlier or having any mentor helping you?

    Now learn through our mentors and professionals who have done it all and helped many people like you earlier in our series of technology innovation webinars. First of it focused on taking you trough step by step process from idea to exit.

    register

    Date: June 22nd 2016

    Time: 1 PM EST

  • Load & Stress Testing for software

    How to use load testing as tool to test scale possibility for your software products?

    Checking Your Software’s Scalability: How Load Testing Helps
    The software industry is littered with success stories about the killer app that reinvented the marketplace and made its creators rich. For every one of those happy endings, there are a healthy handful of sadder stories about the program with tons of potential that died a messy death as soon as its operators tried to scale it up. If you want to avoid this ignominious fate, load testing your software product will ensure that scalability doesn’t turn into its Achilles’ heel.

    Load Testing Defined

    Load testing is an attempt to test your software in a realistic usage environment. The goal is to accurately simulate what will happen when the software is subjected to normal use at high volume. There are countless tools available to this, and many types of software – such as web applications – can be properly tested using an off-the-shelf testing tool. Examples include Apache JMeter (desktop) and The Grinder (Java-based). Some products, though, require specialized (or even scratch-built) tools to model their “live” operating conditions.

    Load testing can apply to any aspect of a program. The most common form of load testing today involves subjecting a piece of software to multiple user inputs; this is particularly vital for online software. Load testing also applies to your software’s capability to handle data, though. You need to verify that your program will accept your expected volume of input without choking.

    The Blurred Line Between Load And Stress Testing

    There used to be a sharp distinction between load testing and stress testing. As noted above, load testing is shows how your software performs under expected conditions. Stress testing is intended to push your software to its breaking point. Sometimes the same testing tool can serve both functions, but many are designed exclusively for one or the other. This is why a multi-tool testing platform (like Taurus) may be useful for organizing your testing procedures.

    In today’s programming market, you’re always hoping that the new software you’re developing will turn into the next Uber or Instagram. If you’re being optimistic, you’re not going to set an upper bound on the number of users or the volume of data you anticipate. Thus modern load testing often expands towards – or even becomes – a form of stress testing.

    What Proper Load Testing Reveals

    Good load testing does more than simply confirm that your software will work as intended. With the right tools, you can measure your program’s performance as it approaches or exceeds anticipated loads. Response times, resource utilization, and efficiency can – and should – be measured during load testing. Full load testing will also discriminate between “steady” loads and “peak state” loads; showing what your software is capable of sustaining in both the long and the short term.

    The benefit of load testing is that it will illuminate the limitations your software is going to face once it goes live. You can identify processes that serve to bottleneck the program as load increases; these can be addressed through design refinements to minimize their impact. You’ll also get a better understanding of how resource consumption changes with increasing loads; this information will be vital when you formulate plans to keep pace with an expanding user base.

    To get the most comprehensive results, it may be smart to outsource your testing requirements to a specialized team. Many firms have capitalized on their testing expertise to deliver more far-reaching and informative results than you can develop in-house. If you’re hoping for your software to expand to the largest scales, investing in an experienced testing team can be invaluable.

    Every software product should receive at least some form of load testing before it’s introduced to the public. The more careful and thorough you are during this process, the better prepared you’ll be for rapid expansion. Comprehensive load testing is the best – if not the only – way to make sure your software is ready to grow.

     

  • Chasing CTO co-founder for your startups

    What you must look for in a CTO or tech co-founder?

    What you must look for in a CTO or tech co-founder.
    Nobody occupies a more precarious position in the technology world than startups. You can have the right idea and the right plan, but if you’re not able to stay ahead of the tech that drives the rest of the industry, then it can all go away.

    The problem is that there is no universal path to ensuring your technological capabilities are everything they should be. In an ever-changing world of tech, it’s dangerous to follow any one mindset or approach when it comes to staying up to date. The best thing you can do is appoint a leader within your company who is able to stay atop of all technological trends and adapt as needed. You need a good CTO or knowledgeable tech co-founder.

    For any emerging startup, your upper-level technology hires (whether they be a technology co-founder or CTO) can serve as your anchor. As the tech industry shifts and grows, they can help ensure you stay exactly where you need to be. Their value is without question, but what is up for debate is what defines a good technology expert. While you must always take into consideration your startup’s specific needs, the following are traits that any tech management specialist will possess.

    Practical Engineering Experience

    Right away, you should look at whether your CTO candidate has experience developing software technology or software products from the ground level. Nobody understands tech quite like engineers that work with it day-to-day, and any CTO that doesn’t have a background of practical experience working as an engineer will have a hard time properly appreciating the full needs of the position.

    A Proven History of Success

    Nothing speaks quite as clearly as success. Promises and plans are one thing, but the closest you can come to a guarantee that your CTO is capable of delivering is ensure they’ve done it before. Whether it’s through pioneering the implementation of a new piece of software technology within your field or even participating in the development of defining software products, your CTO should have success on their resume that speaks for itself.

    Knowledge of Your Current Technology

    Although you are ultimately hiring a CTO to advance your current technology as needed, you still need to take into consideration whether your CTO candidate is truly familiar with your current technology. Even if you are planning to move away from your current set-up soon after their hiring, if your candidate isn’t familiar with what you are working with then it will make the transition period much more difficult.

    A Deep Network of Connections

    The exact importance of an employee’s network can vary from position to position, but when it comes to a CTO, it means everything. Because a big part of your CTO’s job description will involve them having the ability to stay on top of new trends and emerging concepts, a deep network of industry insiders will help you to feel confident they have the proper knowledge base needed to be aware of such changes.

    Additionally, don’t overlook the possibility of outsourcing your technology officer position at the start. Delaying a full-time hire is not only an excellent way to offset the high costs of a tech expert but can be a great way to practically field test what you are looking for in the position as your company grows.

  • Startup needs to be successful

    You Need More Than Passion and Money to Make Your Tech Startup Into a Unicorn

    What Makes a Startup Unicorn Successful? Hint: You Need More Than Passion.

    In the early 2000s, people were still trying to figure out this thing called the Internet. What did e-commerce mean for a business? What did people see in online dating? How was Google going to fix the spam link problems? Those issues are long gone as more and more people have become entrepreneurs simply by starting their own businesses online. Do these new entrepreneurs have what it takes to create a tech startup unicorn? What exactly does that mean? In truth, many people are jumping into the tech game without realizing that passion does not equal knowledge, and knowledge does not equal success.

    Unpacking Your Startup Idea
    Anyone who watches the show Silicon Valley on HBO knows that creating a valuable and useful startup is all about investors. Where a startup begins and ends is not the same. One major example is Facebook. Once started as a website akin to the old “hot or not” trendy sites for college students, it is arguably the most well-known and pervasive social media platform used around the world.

    This is why it is essential to unpack your startup technology early and understand what is simply great about your idea. Whether you are a developer with a software product, business graduate with a cool invention or single parent just getting started, every startup entrepreneur should think critically about each component of their startup starting with the product and go-to-market strategy. One way to do this is through a SWOT analysis. Here are some questions you might ask:

    • What is my main product?
    • What does my company value?
    • What do my customers love about the product?
    • What do customers love about my brand?
    • What channels will serve the product best to my customer?

    You may also want to get more specific depending on the product. For example, who buys this software product and for what purpose? What problem does this product solve, and how much is it worth to my users to solve that problem?

    Consumer-Facing or Business-Facing
    In the past you may have heard B2B or B2C as common keywords that distinguished whether a company appealed to businesses or everyone else. The key terms now are consumer-facing or business-facing.

    Simply put, consumer-facing startups are based on how products or services are seen by a customer. This is key in determining a customer’s experience with your company and also the best way to design and deliver a satisfying user experience that includes multiple touch points. Some of these touch points include:

    • Business processes
    • Budgets
    • Marketing
    • Order processing
    • Purchasing
    • Production
    • Customer service
    • Employee training

    Business-facing is based on how can serve and provide software to other companies and clients. This is still referred to as business-to-business or B2B.

    While you do not necessarily have to pick between these two, it helps to understand what the majority of your audience demographic will be so you can understand branding, content strategy, channel selection and audiences so that your startup gains visibility.

    Defining the answers to these questions can lead to bigger investments from business partners or bring in more users who will support your startup technology company’s growth in the early years.

  • Automated unit testing

    Software Development Managers – How automated unit testing helps in controlled incremental releases?

    The Indispensable Merits of Automated Unit Testing
    Does it work?

    Because of all the rhetorical noise that can come with a hugely complex industry such as software development, you can accidentally lose sight of this fundamental question. The fact is, the only thing that matters to your client is “does this program do what I need to do, and does it do it reliably?” The way to ensure this is a simple, yet elegant development solution: unit testing.

    When developing a new software feature, you might take the naive approach and hand your engineers a rough specification, and have them implement your ideas to the best of their ability. Then, although they might have even designed a good feature, sometimes it just isn’t what you or your client needed. The perfect solution to this is test-driven development and unit testing. Using this method, instead of making guesswork of what needs to be done and then testing it later, only to find that the feature isn’t quite right, you instead write the tests first, ensure that they fit exactly what you want your piece of software to do and only then begin development. Initially, all the tests will fail. But as your engineers code the feature, they code specifically to pass each test, and as a result they code exactly what you need to get your feature working, released, and useful.

    Unit testing is especially important in incrementally released software. As you continuously roll out scores and scores of new features, it can become impossible to make sure the entirety of your program is functional. On a piece of software that is even two years old, there can be hundreds and hundreds of features that need to be ensured to work. It cannot be assumed that if a feature worked in a previous release that it will always work, as software engineering is an inherently finicky task, and the most minute change can break features for reasons entirely unknown. This is true especially if you have to change the fundamental structure of the program in order to roll in the new feature, which happens more often than you might think.

    In addition, manual testing requires your engineers to repeatedly execute repetitive tasks. Saving your engineers’ time, especially by running overnight test suites, can in addition save your company a good amount of money.

    There are scores of software development services created with automated unit testing and test driven development in mind. There’s one in any competitive IDE and one for virtually any language. Without a doubt, there’s multiple automated testing software development services for whatever technology you decide to develop your product with. Automated unit testing is a simple, elegant way to ensure a viable, reliable product, it reduces development costs, wasted time, guesswork, and headache for everyone involved, and all of the tools and services are already in place for you to integrate it seamlessly in your enterprise. In light of this, automated unit testing is, without a doubt, an indispensable practice to any software company.

  • co-development of software

    Know how Co-Developing Software Product Development is the Key to Balance Costs and Sustain Longer

    Why Co-Developing or Outsourcing Software Product Development Makes Sense
    Partnering with a software development company affords businesses the flexibility and responsiveness necessary to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced, constantly changing software product development market. What used to involve years-long project and development cycles can now be delivered in a fast, cost-efficient manner. For many companies, outsourced product development just makes sense.

    Here are four reasons why co-developing software product development makes sense for many businesses.

    Cost Savings
    The cost of maintaining a full IT staff dedicated to software product development is prohibitive. When you factor in the salaries, benefits, hiring and training processes, it’s easy to see why many organizations seek alternatives in the form of out-sourced development work. By relying on outsourced talent for development, companies can maintain the bare minimum of IT staff necessary to support, implement and guide the software products.

    Shorter Development Cycles
    Outsourced developers often have the resources and skills necessary to meet the aggressive time constraints of individual projects. They have the ability to staff-up with the right skilled developers to meet the demand. Not only does this shorter time to market present a competitive advantage for companies, but it also allows them to be more responsive to existing customer needs. Promises for enhancements and new features can be delivered sooner.

    Different times zones can also be a plus for productivity. Take for example the opportunity to develop during the day and test code at night. Or struggling to find more hours in the day that overlap, there is a chance to leverage teams in hat work in nearby time zones.

    Quickly find the Skills Needed
    As referenced earlier, outsourced product development companies have larger numbers of skilled developers than can be cost-effectively maintained in-house. The flexibility of being able to plug in different skills sets as the project demands becomes a boon to productivity and cost-savings. No longer do companies face the dreaded “switching costs” associated with getting staff trained on new technology and up to speed with the right development skills.

    Sustainability and Flexibility
    A companies ability to regularly bring updated, responsive software to market in a short time frame keeps it ahead, or in step, with the competition. The strategic strengths and sustainable development cycles mean the company will remain in a flexible and market-ready position for years to come. Co-developing software product development provides a strategic advantage.

    A software development company can also seamlessly switch from a waterfall development approach to an agile, iterative based product development life cycle. Agile has proven to deliver the better results for customers.

    Software development companies need their software product development cycles to be shorter and cost-effective while simultaneously providing the flexibility and responsiveness necessary to get to the top of the market. The costs associated with maintaining a large IT staff can hinder the profitability of many companies. Couple that with quickly out-dated skills sets and long project timelines and it’s easy to see why many organizations have turned to outsourced product development.

  • Software product development

    Why Software Product Development is Different Than Internal Software Projects?

    Why Software Product Development is different than internal software projects?

    Internal software projects can cover a wide variety of tasks, such as building a data warehouse or creating a custom application to be used internally by a business. Many projects might involve coding, but actually developing and producing software from an initial concept to successful release is an entirely different animal.

    Software Development Process

    The software development process, or life cycle (SDLC), is a structure for defining progress. There are a number of development methods which describe approaches to the tasks and objectives involved. These process models began with waterfall methods, which developed in turn into iterative, Agile, and extreme programming (XP) processes.

    Typically any software development includes stages of requirement analysis, specifications, software architecture, implementation, testing, documentation, training and support, and maintenance.

    In thee internal software projects, this cycle is completed for a version to be used by business and remains steady for a while till business needs new changes. However, software product development in many instances, development is never really completed, as there are numerous releases over time with new features and fixes as customer feedback is received and user needs change more frequently. With new cloud based SaaS products gaining foot in market, the cycles of development have become more agile and product companies are actually doing this shorter as possible to get more customer feedback as fast as possible.

    Driving Role

    With internal software projects, it is usually seen that CIO or IT heads get the requests for business software needed, which gets checked by them if available off the shelf. This is what drives to make decisions of creating this custom internally for their business OR if a off the shelf software package can be used to meet the needs with minimal or no customization.

    In technology startup space, CEO is more of an “idea man” or venture capitalist who hires or partners with a technology specialist to head up development. This is the CTO, or chief technical officer. In practice this is seldom a hands-on team leader but a technical adviser. In today’s development world of IT outsourcing, this is not someone with a vested interest in the technology startup, but a contracted, high-level consultant who can be hired as virtual CTO. The role may become more physical and they may need to bring a full time CTO in house once the product hits market

    Platforms & Technology Stack

    Today’s software product development can be extremely complex, and may need to run a variety of devices and platforms. Development teams must stick to their methodology to establish and meet requirements, plan system architecture, and coalesce constantly revised code blocks into a working product that satisfies all quality tests. Going at it with a poorly defined process will only lead to failure.

    In contrast, an internal project although being a very important requirement from business standpoint, does not necessarily need to support many platforms for user adaptability as most of the users may still be internal to business. Technology and architecture decisions however are equally important, still rank low as preference if compared with product development needs of a technology company.