Digital product design is still in its relative infancy in South Africa. While some of us have been at it for a while, designing beautiful tech products and interfaces for people to enjoy, the industry is not that big yet. But it is growing and evolving all the time, and I believe we’ve reached a tipping point where we now have a real digital product design community in the making.
Up until now, the ways we’ve connected with each other as digital product designers were through meetups, conferences and industry events, a bit of project collaboration here and there, and through personal networks. Most digital companies and designers have Behance or Dribbble portfolios — but this is more about display of work than creating connection. …
- By Bobby Sequeira
Great technology products can certainly be a lifeline to society right now, and as we adapt to a new online normal there are plenty of opportunities in the product creation space to solve many of the world’s problems.
The tricky part for any product development team, however, is the sheer overwhelming array of methodologies to choose from before they get going in creating a tech product — whether it’s an app, or software, or other tech tool for people to use.
I’m here to help. I believe if you combine the three excellent methodologies of Design Thinking, Lean and Agile, and you follow the eight simple principles I have set out for you in this article, your product design experience will be much better, more fun and your products will be far more impactful. …
Africa is the breadbasket of the world, but much of its agricultural value chain management and financing are still paper-based, inefficient and opaque. This needed to change.
Users, and in particular those in rural areas, often struggle with poor network coverage and high data costs, older generation devices with ailing battery life, unreliable access to electricity to charge up, and other complexities that make it hard to close the digital divide.
Luckily, when GFM came to IO for help, the IO team already had a ton of experience developing technologies that solved such problems in emerging markets.
Realising that GFM needed a solution that was light on data and battery usage, coupled with offline functionality to circumvent the lack of cell coverage in remote areas, it became clear that a progressive web app (PWA) was the ideal solution. …
It’s not that all of the web designers out there that haven’t embraced “accessibility” yet, actually mean to be assholes to their users. Most often it’s a case of ignorance and misconception — and that can be fixed. Today being Global Accessibility Awareness Day, it’s a particularly good day to start. So let’s go. You too can become a design hero for the people. Written by Karen Breytenbach
Accessibility experts Nicola du Toit and Steve Barnett of Empathy Labradors (yes, they love empathy AND dogs) gave a rather enlightening talk at our most recent I|O Powwow about designing tech products and interfaces with accessibility and usability in mind. …
By Gareth Nicholson
Progressive Web Apps or PWAs are the it thing in web development at the moment. Why wouldn’t it be? The promise of a website behaving like a native app, without all the hassles.
PWAs allow you to “install” your website on the user’s home screen, work without an internet connection and even send push notifications to users. You can also cache everything to your heart’s content, including API calls with IndexedDB. I’ll run you through the simple setup I used to get things going rather quickly with Laravel 5.4.
To view service worker information in browser when testing, open up devtools and hit the
application tab in Chrome. …
As a Google Developer Expert working in Africa, I work at the coalface of tech for emerging markets, and one of the web tech developments for this market that I am most excited about is Progressive Web Apps or PWAs.
By Johann du Toit
For a long time now the distribution of online content and services between the developing and developed world was shockingly unequal, but now we have a chance at making all of that more fair, especially if you consider that the biggest predicted growth markets for the internet in the next decade are mass market consumers in the emerging economies. …
Machine learning is transforming the world around us and enabling technology that previously only existed in sci-fi movies.
By Alex Conway
Instead of needing to hand-code rules to solve challenging problems such as computer vision, speech recognition and self-driving cars, programmers can build systems that enable computers to “learn” how to solve these problems on their own. Put simply, machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn from data. Give an algorithm enough examples of solutions to a problem and it can learn how to predict solutions for new unseen examples.
This type of problem where we have solutions for examples (so-called “training data”) is called a ‘supervised learning’ problem (in contrast to ‘unsupervised learning’ problems such as clustering). A simple example is something like predicting the price of a house given input “features” (just columns in a spreadsheet) such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, garages, the square foot area, postal code, etc. There are many algorithms that can be used to solve supervised learning problems from regression to random forests, support vector machines, and neural networks but fundamentally all we are doing is trying to create a function that “learns” to map some input data to an output solution. …
Embrace the “Nano Sprint”, a brainstorming tool to mind map potential prototypes using the Google Design Sprint approach — without losing your core team for five days! Spoiler alert: It will take them only about an hour.
By Johann du Toit
One of the scariest things about launching a startup must be not knowing whether you’re really onto something. Startups in the ideation stage can run all sorts of processes to make sure they have a bullet-proof idea, of which one of the most useful has to be the Google Design Sprint. …