The Carbon Five Guide to User Research: The What’s, How’s, and Why’s of Prototyping

By on in Everything Else, User Research

If you’ve been following along with our guide to user research, great! By now you’ve defined your feature set and are ready to try out your ideas. You know your product will be validated by user research and match user needs. You know that you need a version of the product to test your solutions and before writing any production code.

Now, we are going to walk through some of the best ways to get the feature set you have in mind into a useful prototype. Some rules of the road to follow before you begin creating prototypes:

  • The more the merrier: Come up with as many ideas to prototype as you can; this will help you evaluate your product with both your team and with your users.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate: Once you have the ideas make sure you evolve them through multiple rounds before you throw them out. This is your time to try stuff out and have fun. If you don’t explore broadly at this stage, when will you?
  • Use these prototypes to learn: Prototyping is most powerful when it is used to test a hypothesis and to learn about your users and what they want. Don’t think of the prototypes as a final design but as a way of learning what your final design might be.

Without further ado, here are our six favorite prototyping techniques.

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Finding the Right Company Fit

By on in Everything Else

One month ago I was on a panel at Grace Hopper, “Startups, Big Companies, Silicon Valley, Government Contractor — What’s the right career path for you?”. I was speaking mostly to software engineers who were just entering their career post-college or transitioning from their first job. I was on the panel with four other talented software engineers from a range of job experiences, Sha-Mayn Teh (Teachers Pay Teachers), Jennifer Liu (Quizlet), Neena Parikh (Benchling), and Stephanie deWet (Pinterest). Here are some of the thoughts I personally shared with the room on how to decide on what kind of company to work for.

Grace Hopper Career Panel 2016, entitled "Startups, Big Companies, Silicon Valley, Government Contractor - What's the right career path for you?"
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Setting up React Native build environments using NativeModules

By on in Development, Everything Else, JavaScript

React Native is an emerging platform in the mobile space that allows developers to write native apps in Javascript without having to learn Java or Swift. It’s great conceptually, but developers end up having to write NativeModules (for iOS and Android) anyway because it lacks the tools that other frameworks generally provide. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to pass your build environment from the native environment to your javascript environment. In the process, you should get a better idea of how to build simple NativeModules.

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My Apprenticeship at Carbon Five

By on in Everything Else

When the opportunity came up to participate in the Carbon Five apprenticeship program in April, I was first in line. With two other apprentices, I spent the next three months at Carbon Five, working alongside a mentor across client and internal projects.

I had been working as a junior developer for about a year and was looking for an opportunity that provided mentorship that would allow me to level-up my skill set. I would often be asked why quit your job and take an apprenticeship position when you are already working. Yet given the experience I had, if all apprenticeships were like that of Carbon Five, I think they would be invaluable to any junior developer. So why? Continue reading …


DIY Pokemon Go: Our Experience Building an Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunt

By on in C5 Labs, Development, Everything Else

 

Thanks to PokemonGO, the streets are filled with people racing around cities, stopping to interact with virtual characters they could see through their phone camera. The experience is familiar to us at Carbon Five; 6 months ago we were doing the same thing on the streets of San Francisco playing our own augmented reality game. A game our tiny, three person team conceived, built and delivered in under a month, in and around our regular client workload!

This was no simple feat. In addition to the tight timeline, most of our day to day work focuses on mobile and web applications. Working in 3D was something only some of us have tried, with little practical experience.

So how did we do it?

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Elixir Extravaganza – Carbon Five LA Talk Night June 15th 2016

By on in Everything Else

Excitement continues to grow around the functional programming language Elixir and it’s web framework Phoenix. Many are intrigued by the pair’s ability to scale due to the Erlang VM while remaining maintainable and understandable thanks to their Ruby and Rails pedigree.

But is it production ready? Should you consider it for your next project? Basically, is it time to drink the Elixir? It’s a question we’ve answered before and we want to continue that conversation.

That’s why we’re inviting you to our next Talk Night, centering on the practical use and adoption of this exciting new language.

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Dr. Smarty or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bot?

By on in Culture, Development, Everything Else

 

Twice a year, all of the Carbon Five offices congregate for our company-wide Summit. One of the funnest parts of these all company trips is the Codeo, which we have been running for the last few years and they have become an integral part of our DNA.

For those that don’t know, our Codeo (short for “Code Rodeo”) is a 2-day internal hackathon. The goal of the Codeo is to have fun creating a product with people you haven’t had a chance to work with in a while (or maybe ever).

The teams are made up of mixture of office locations and cross-functional groups so that everyone has a different role to play (developers, designers, product manager, and operations). The focus of this Codeo was “Slackbots” with the overall goal to create something that helps out our co-workers and/or Carbon Five as a whole. The only rule was to use an existing internal Slack channel as inspiration for the project.

Here is a snapshot of each team’s Slackbot, as told by the team. Continue reading …


Founder Five: Pete Shalek and Steve Marks from Joyable

By on in Everything Else, Startups

We’re catching up with some of the most inspiring founders we’ve worked with to share insights and advice from their experience of starting and growing businesses. Recently, we worked with the Joyable team on their iOS app, and we were inspired by their customer-focused mindset. For those who are not yet familiar, Joyable offers an online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program to help individuals overcome social anxiety. Every decision made by Pete and Steve from the outset was validated by real consumer experience.

We also published an extended version of this interview on Medium.

1) What was the “aha moment” that motivated you to start Joyable?

Pete: I knew I wanted to do something in healthcare, and I wanted to see problems on the ground [and] do some customer development work. So I convinced some doctors at Stanford Hospital, where I was in business school, to let me shadow them. I followed doctors in the emergency room for eight hours a day. It was fascinating and really fun. As anyone who works in a hospital will tell you, there are many things that can be improved in hospitals— even at great hospitals.

That hit me really hard. This idea that someone was in bad enough shape that they went to an emergency room, and they were being told to wait three months. – Pete Shalek

PeteShalekSteveMarks

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ES6, ES7, and Looking Forward

By on in Development, Everything Else, Web

After attending Allen Wirts-Brock’s presentation on ES6 and ES7 at ForwardJS last week, I asked him if there was more momentum in shaping the JavaScript language recently. ES6, or ECMAScript 2015, has only just been released and shall soon be followed by ES7, or ECMAScript 2016. And what is ECMAScript, you may ask? ECMAScript is nothing more or less than the standard that defines what JavaScript is. With the last major release of ES5.1 back in 2011, and two new releases two years in a row, it appeared to me there was new momentum put into evolving this incredibly popular language. This blog will give you an overview of how JavaScript is being shaped over time and give a high-level look at ES6 and ES7.

Shaping JavaScript

Allen famously created the JavaScript language with Brendan Eich in just 10 days in May of 1995. He points out that while that statement is true, the reality is that there was a lot of thought preceding those 10 days about how the language would be shaped. After initially creating the language, it was picked up by two different companies who were trying to develop it independently. That is when the standards committee was developed. Technical Committee 39 (TC-39) of ECMA International now sets the ECMAScript standard. The standards committee is headed by pioneers in the business: Mozilla, jQuery, Meteor, Salesforce, Internet Explorer, Intel, et al. Continue reading …