Wait, Do Not Jump Into Redesign — Perform a UX Audit First!

Every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return. Learn to invest it right.

Want to stand out from competitors? Develop a sense of trends and changes on the market. Keep moving. Stay open-minded. These rules seem so simple. But how to implement them in practice? You should review your results and figures regularly. Analyze the connections, trace tendencies. And if you see that something goes wrong, it’s high time to make some changes

But when the word change is pronounced, many of us decide to immediately gather our development teams and redesign our products. We tend to believe that completely redesigning software renews its relevance. However, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, a redesign can bring more bad outcomes than good. How to foresee the results? This is where one of UI UX design services — UX audit — comes into play. To expect a positive outcome, develop a strategy. Don’t do anything in the heat of passion. Be rational. 

Redesign vs UX Audit: What to Start with?

The decision to redesign a product may not bring positive results. Why do you think this happens? The answer is simple. To resolve a problem, you should understand its roots. Neglecting this rule results in poor outcomes for your business. You should keep in mind that simply redesigning your software without outlining the reasons is worse than doing nothing. So does redesign help at all? Indeed it helps. But only if planned and conducted wisely. To understand what aspects of your product should be redesigned, you have to understand why your users don’t like them. 

To reveal the pains of your user, conduct a UX audit first. It doesn’t really matter which industry you are in, e-commerce, or anything else — as long as you have a digital presence, you must ensure that the customer experience is outstanding. But what is UX (User Experience) audit?

It is the process of analyzing your app, website, or another type of product that shows you what aspects of your product cause headache for your users. UX website audit is frequently based on customer journey mapping. Yet, to get reliable answers, analyzing your software from the viewpoint of an owner is not enough. If you are not skilled in empirical analysis and heuristic evaluation and have no sense of cultural factors in design, entrust this task to UX professionals. 


UX audit helps you understand the pains of your customer.


Why should you spend money for UX audit if you can directly ask your users what’s wrong with the app/website? If you think so, I’ll ask you the question. When you use a website or an app, do you think deeply about the quality of your interaction? I bet that you don’t. Most probably, you think about your goal. And when you fail to meet it, you just close down an app or a browser tab and look for a better solution. The same is true for your users. How can you base the strategy only on your users’ words if they don’t think over their behavior on your website?… They just either like it or not.

UX audit is not only about asking your users about the problems. It’s a complex process that involves several stages. Each of these will be discussed below. But if you decide to conduct a UX audit on your own, be ready to detach yourself from all your business processes and devote much time to the analysis of data. Usually, a UX audit is performed under a well-constructed timeline, which lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. If you have no background in the UX audit sphere, interpreting results can be a difficult task for you, too. 

This part of our article is called “Redesign vs UX audit.” But now you see that these two notions should not be contrasted. The former can be the result of the latter, yet not always. In some cases, you’ll need both. In other cases, less significant changes will save your business, and you’ll not have to hire a redesign team. 

Phases of UX Audit

Depending on the product type, audit goals, and requirements, a UX audit process may include different phases. Let’s review the UX audit checklist developed by KeenEthics:

1: Interviewing stakeholders

Before the magic happens, a design team needs to prepare thoroughly. They meet with a client for a kick-off meeting or even workshop to discuss the main business and usability objectives, user flow, and previous experience and issues. It is also useful to conduct interviews with stakeholders who have an interest in the product. These can be product managers, marketers, salespeople, and/or customer service representatives.

2: Reviewing and understanding user goals

With the whole picture of business goals, it is time to go outside and meet the users. The best practice in this step is to create user flows. These user flows will show the user’s objectives in different parts of the product and describe the way they will take to get there. This stage can turn into a full-fledged user testing process with its own methods, such as surveys.

3: Reviewing analytics

Some businesses use analytical tools such as Google Analytics or HotJar to track the performance of their product. If not, designers will have several tools to explore. At this stage, it is important to check how many users visit the website, how often, at what step they leave, and what difficulties they face. In fact, this step is necessary not only as a UX audit measure but as an everyday action taken by the marketing team to keep a finger on the pulse of the website.

4: Checking usability standards

As I mentioned earlier, usability standards are based on research from a variety of fields — including cognitive psychology, computer science, technical communication, and UX design itself. Using these guidelines and a UX audit sample, a UX specialist can check navigation, common design elements, consistency, visual hierarchy, and adaptivity to different devices. A crucial moment here is testing accessibility for the web products to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

5: Conducting heuristic evaluation

What are usability heuristics or standards? These are the 10 principles developed by Jakob Nielsen to evaluate usability and audit UX.  In particular, the system status should be visible, and it should follow real-life conventions, speak a common language with the user. The product should give a user a feeling of freedom and control by offering the undo and redo opportunities. It should be consistent, flexible, and efficient, offer proper error messages, and minimize the user’s memory load. Aesthetics should not be forgotten either. Overall, the designer has to try to see things from the user’s point of view as they would take steps to meet their goals. Also, throughout the process of heuristic evaluation, a designer should take screenshots with detailed notes.  

6 & 7: Compiling the audit report, formulating recommendations, drawing conclusions

At the end of the journey, the design team will prepare a document that clearly and concisely conveys the findings. This document or report should include pre-made screenshots with the list of issues, level of their severity, and additional notes that explain the issues in more detail. Also, the design team should offer mockups and resources for improvements. The report may recommend basically any measure necessary for the project’s success, including testing on a larger sample of users, testing on mobile devices, making SEO enhancements, or even launching a complete redesign of the website. 

UX Audit by KeenEthics: Case Example

Take a look at the case example of UX Audit conducted by KeenEthics for our client. Banker Advisor is an investment banking tool. It provides users with complex financial services of researching, comparing, and selecting banks. Since it is a fresh tool on the market, our client asked us to improve it with UX Audit and make an even greater impression on first clients. After weeks-long complex analysis and review, our UX professionals outlined several areas of improvement. 

We’ve subdivided problems into several categories marked by different colors. There were critical, serious, medium, and low usability problems. Critical had to be eliminated urgently, while low were minor mistakes or issues that did not affect the quality of services but might worsen the first impression from the product. 

Also, we’ve conducted an in-depth analysis of the home page. We spotted a lot of issues and prepared a list of actionable recommendations for our client. Below, you can see the excerpt of the review for Banker Advisor. And if you’d like to dive deeper into UX Audit and learn more about our strategy, we welcome you to contact your UI / UX specialist. She’s always happy to review your particular case and answer any questions!


Do you want to learn more about UX testing?

Check my recent article “The Value of User Testing: How to Find the Hidden Opportunity?”.

Alex Pletnov Oksana Pleten UI / UX Designer


So What Benefits You Get from UX Design Audit?

Forrester’s research once reported that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return. Truth or not, but here are some potential benefits that professional UX audits and reviews bring: 

  • Increased conversion. A high-quality website UX / UI audit focuses on the real needs of a user and improves conversion, which may reportedly increase by 30-75% if timely action is taken.
  • Time-efficiency. Fixing problems in the existing product design may be more time-efficient than redesigning.
  • Cost-efficiency. A UX audit helps you understand how your users behave and helps you get to know them better. Subsequent fixes can improve the user’s journey and increase user engagement. As a result, a business will spend less money on client acquisition and client retention.
  • Engaged users. UX site audit often shows very unpredictable results that have a great impact on the product. Anyway, it helps build an understanding between a business and its users. It can show the way of how to improve customer engagement and boost product performance.

A Final Remark

Not everyone needs UX site audits.

– Wait, what? What was the entire article about then?

A UX audit will not help every business to achieve their goals. For some, a redesign is the only solution. So how do you know, which service to go for — UI / UX Audit Service or website redesign? The answer is simple: ask an expert from a UI UX design company. They will look into your website, prepare a list of recommendations, and tell you which service would suit your needs best.

Would you like an expert UX designer to review your website?

Our professionals would gladly look through your software product and see if the UX audit would help. Contact us to learn more.

How to Find Your Way Around Different Types of Software Testing?

Let’s discuss automated and manual, scripted and exploratory, functional and non-functional software testing types and all their subtypes

Suppose that you’ve built an app that is expected to be a huge success. Why would you spend time and money making sure that you did everything correctly? You could just click through the app, make sure that everything works well, and push the app forward to the market, right? Not really…

Is Quality Control important only for software development? No, it’s not. If you look at different spheres closer, you’ll see that each business process highly relies on Quality Assurance and Control. When a chef works on a new menu, he tastes each new recipe to make sure that it is impeccable. When a crew prepares a plane for the takeoff, the airport maintenance team conducts a walk-around, while the pilots conduct pre-flight checks in the cockpit. When a surgeon prepares a patient for the operation, he assigns blood tests, CT scans, allergy tests, and other medical checks. Quality Assurance is the precondition of successful results in every field.

You might say that you understand the importance of software testing and QA services. And while the need for conducting effective software testing seems obvious for you, choosing the right instruments is not that easy. What are the stages of testing? What types of QA testing methodologies to use? Why and how? These questions look far more confusing.

In this article, I will look through different types of software testing, different software testing methodologies, where they should be used, and which benefits they bring.


Automated Testing vs Manual Testing

Let’s start with a broad typology. There are two broad types of testing: automated and manual. It is easy to differentiate between them because manual software testing technique is conducted manually by a QA specialist, while automated software testing is performed with the help of written code scripts — a code that tests code. 

Like everything that can be automated, the automated software testing approach saves time and effort. Testing algorithms do everything for you and you finish your project quicker. Yet, applying automated testing is expensive. Meantime, opting for different types of manual testing is considerably cheaper than the automated one but usually takes longer and leaves more room for errors. Manual testing is more suitable when test cases need to be checked only once or twice, not repeatedly. Also, unlike automated tests, manual testing types identify nonfunctional issues that affect customer experience.

What type to focus on? For you as a business owner, the best decision is to consult an expert PM. They’ll tell you which type of Quality Assurance testing — manual or automated — suits your business needs better.


Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing vs Ad-hoc Testing

Scripted testing is performed with the help of test cases created in advance. Using test cases is a great idea for a tester who lacks experience and wants to follow the defined patterns and testing rules.

Another type of testing is exploratory. This type does not require test cases. During the exploratory testing sessions, a QA specialist investigates the system, randomly goes through each page, and estimates the overall feeling of the app. This testing type relies on cognitive thinking and can be conducted only manually. Yet, its main advantage is the human factor — it increases the possibility of errors and missing data.

Ad-hoc testing is the most informal and random among all the types of software quality assurance. Also called monkey testing, it aims to break the software system. It follows no documented procedures – instead, it prioritizes the result. The benefit of ad-hoc testing is that it can be conducted by anyone on the project, and the goal of it is to find errors and bugs that are not covered by test cases.

What’s the difference between the last two types? The former one is a mandatory step conducted while the app is being developed according to the described workflow, while the latter one is not mandatory, is conducted after the app is complete, and disregards the workflow. You can use this type of software testing as an additional way to ensure the high quality of the end product.


Functional Testing vs Non-Functional Testing

Functional testing focuses on functions, With this testing, you check whether all the functions and features of a software product are present and operate properly. Functional QA testing types include smoke testing, unit testing, integration testing, system testing, regression testing, and user acceptance testing.

Non-functional testing types check other, non-functional aspects of the software, such as performance, reliability, and security. Non-functional software testing practices include UI/UX testing, compatibility testing, API testing, performance and load testing, accessibility testing, and security testing.

What’s more important for your product: functional or non-functional testing? Both. Your client will not use an application that does not ensure data protection. Neither will they use an app that’s kind of buggy and does not give them customer satisfaction.


Unit Testing, Integration Testing, and System Testing

  • Unit testing 

Type: Functional

Who conducts: Development team

When conducted: Before submitting a build for full-scale testing

The outcome: Finding and fixing major bugs instantly

Unit testing checks whether a unit performs as it should. It addresses not the entire software product but a single component of it, a single unit. Here, a unit is the smallest testable part of the software with a single output.

Unit testing is applied by developers before the app is sent to the Quality Assurance team. It is an automated type of testing that brings more confidence in code coverage. If proper unit tests are written after each major change in a code, bugs and defects can be promptly caught and solved. Also, unit testing increases the reusability of code. For unit tests to be conducted, the code has to be modular, and therefore, it becomes reusable.

  • Integration testing 

Type: Functional

Who conducts: Testing or development team

When conducted: During development or testing

The outcome: Ensuring that components interact properly

Integration testing is the opposite of unit testing. Unit testing checks each component individually, while integration testing checks how they interact with each other. It is conducted after unit testing but prior to system testing.

Integration testing can be applied during the development stage by developers or during the Quality Assurance stage by testers. It can be both manual and automated. There are different approaches to integration testing: Bing Bang, Top Down, Bottom Up, Sandwich.

  • System testing

Type: Functional

Who conducts: Testing team

When conducted: Before the product is delivered

The outcome: Ensuring that the entire system functions properly

System testing checks if all the components perform well altogether as a system. The very name speaks for itself. System testing is conducted when the app is already ready to deploy. Performed by testers manually or automatically, this type of test helps them understand if the app can be delivered. If successful, the app is sent to a client for acceptance testing. If no, developers spend some time improving the application.

But how to differentiate between these three forms of testing? Let’s compare a software product to a tree: unit testing would be checking each particular leaf, integration testing would check each branch, and system testing would check the entire tree. That’s it.


  • Smoke Testing

Type: Functional

Who conducts: Testing team

When conducted: Between development and full-scale testing

The outcome: Optimizing QA process

Smoke testing is also known as build verification testing. It’s one of the most superficial types of Quality Assurance. Once the development team sends the project build to the software testing team, the latter checks if the build is stable and does not crash. They look through the most basic functionalities and decide whether the build is suitable for further, more detailed testing or it should be returned to the development team.

When should you go for smoke testing? When you want to reduce efforts and expenses spent on the QA process and identify problems timely. Similar to unit testing, if conducted after each change in the build, smoke testing can ensure the stability of the code.


  • Regression Testing

Type: Functional

Who conducts: Testing team

When conducted: When a new change is implemented

The outcome: Making sure that changes do not affect existing code

Under software regression testing, a QA specialist selects a certain portion of test cases and re-executes them fully or partially. This type of testing belongs to the functional group. It is conducted after a minor or major change in the code to check if this change does not affect the software somehow.

When conducting regression testing, one should not necessarily retest all test cases. It would be more rational to recheck test cases that concern the core software functionality and test cases of features that underwent the most changes. Also, those test cases with the most frequent defects and those most visible to the users deserve attention.


  • Acceptance Testing

Type: Functional

Who conducts: PM, client

When conducted: When the product is being delivered

The outcome: Making sure that the software meets expectations

Acceptance testing is performed neither by a developer nor by a QA specialist. Acceptance testing is a functional testing type that is executed by a client and should involve all stakeholders. 

Under acceptance testing, a client checks the software presented to them by the development team in order to find out if it fully meets project requirements. The outcome of this testing is the client’s decision to accept or not to accept the software product. As you might guess, before the client gets a product for a check, it should undergo many other types of testing. To earn client’s trust and satisfy them with the results, both developers and testers should take care of the quality via effective testing before a client sees a product. 


  • UI/UX Testing

Type: Non-functional

Who conducts: UI/UX designer

When conducted: When the product is designed

The outcome: Optimizing the app usability and user experience

UI/UX testing is quite different from any other type of testing, with its own procedures, methodologies, objectives, and concepts. UI/UX testing checks the efficiency of UI and UX design. It is one of the non-functional types of testing, which looks for the optimal way of interaction between a software product and the target audience.

UI/UX testing is an essential part of the Business Analysis process. It is conducted prior to the development and helps to greatly improve the project idea before implementing it, which would boost the outcome brought by a product, minimize the probability of logical mistakes, and increase the efficiency of development.

Do you want to learn more about UX testing?

Check my recent article “The Value of User Testing: How to Find the Hidden Opportunity?”.

Alex Pletnov Oksana Pleten UI / UX Designer

  • Compatibility Testing

Type: Non-functional

Who conducts: Testing team

When conducted: During full-scale testing

The outcome: Making sure that the app works on any software and hardware

Compatibility testing is of crucial importance for user engagement and retention. The idea of compatibility testing, a non-functional testing type, is to make sure that a software product can function properly on any device, any OS, and any browser.

QA specialists run and test the product on different operating systems of different versions, different hardware, networks, and browsers. If a person launched the app on their device and it did not work properly, they would give your software product no second chance.

  • API Testing

Type: Non-functional

Who conducts: Developers or testing team

When conducted: During development 

The outcome: Making sure that the API of the app functions properly.

API testing is one of the non-functional types of testing, and it checks how the application interacts with API (application programming interface). Performed at the message layer, API testing can identify such errors as unused flags, performance issues, security issues, or reliability issues.

This type of testing determines if the API returns responses for different requests correctly and timely, if it reacts properly to failures or improper inputs, and if it responds securely to possible system data attacks.

  • Performance Testing

Type: Non-functional

Who conducts: Testing team

When conducted: During full-scale testing 

The outcome: Making sure that the app is fast and reliable

Software performance testing is non-functional. It makes sure that the app is stable, responsive, and fast. This type of testing identifies errors that cause lagging or failures of the software. It finds bottlenecks and defines what is the heaviest data load that the system may handle. Testing data load can be also conducted separately with the help of load testing. It is carried out with such tools as JMeter, LoadRunner, or WebLoad. 

The most recent marketing research conducted by Google claims that 53 percent of users are likely to leave a web page if it does not load in three seconds. If you do not want to lose users, performance testing is a must.


  • Accessibility Testing

Type: Non-functional

Who conducts: Testing team, UI/UX designer, or BA

When conducted: Before the product is delivered 

The outcome: Making sure that the app is accessible to everyone

The idea of accessibility testing is to make sure that the program can be used by the elderly and people with disabilities, such as vision impairments, hearing impairments, or mental disorders. The most basic software accessibility checklist is provided by the United States Department of Justice here.

In fact, an American company whose web page does not meet accessibility requirements can be subject to legal liability and a huge fine. Accessibility testing helps to ensure not only the best experience for all users but also the legal security of your business.

  • Security Testing

Type: Non-functional

Who conducts: Testing team

When conducted: During full-scale testing 

The outcome: Making sure that the app is secure

The aim of security testing, also known as vulnerability testing, is to identify potential loopholes, which wrongdoers can use to break the system. It tests the ability of the system to withstand cyberattacks and malicious software. Also, security testing checks the reliability of authorization and authentication processes.

In general, data safety is the number one global technological concern. If the private information of your users was leaked, destroyed, or stolen, you could face serious legal consequences.


That’s It?

Today we’ve discussed different types of software testing that form the ground for the high quality of a software product. However, the understanding of quality is not limited to the abovementioned. There are many other effective and interesting levels of testing that can be applied to your specific case. KeenEthics specialists are skilled in each of these.

Localization testing, for instance, is used to check whether a product works well in a particular culture, location, or environment. Black box testing, or simply box testing approach, can be applied to get a fresh view of the product. Box testing technique should be executed by people with no understanding of the internal structure of software. They haven’t seen the code and know anything about the internal processes of software creation.

Have you heard about stress testing? Stress test for a software product is like a crush test for a car. It checks your software for stability. You can combine stress testing with volume testing. The latter is used to examine how your software will function under a huge volume of data. 

But suppose that your product might have some bugs. Why don’t you use static testing at first? It’s a type of testing that allows you to check bugs without executing the code. It’s like checking the errors on the surface before diving deeper. When some bugs are detected and fixed, you can use sanity testing to make sure that your product works properly. 

And what if you want to find the best configuration for your software? Configuration testing is the best idea in this case! You’ll test your products against different types of configurations to find the most relevant one. And when your product is ready for release, the most interesting happens. Your users can evaluate your product via usability testing

As you see, the list of testing types seems to be endless. Risk-based testing, beta and scalability testing, component testing, compliance testing, penetration testing… Do you feel like your head’s boiling now? In fact, to ensure that your product is of high quality, you should not learn all these types by heart. The better decision is to trust your software to QA professionals. They will not only choose the most effective methods but also provide you with support and maintenance! 


To Wrap Up

Different software testing methodologies are easier to understand than they seem. However, most of them are far from easy to conduct.

Yes, Quality Assurance takes time and requires some additional expenses and efforts. However, do not neglect it. Proper testing will help you avoid critical technical and business logic mistakes. To carry out the software testing process properly, keep record of the process according to the rules of QA documentation.

Finally, look for trusted QA specialists, who will work hand-in-hand with your development team. After all, testing your software is making sure that it is performant, reliable, and enjoyed by your users.

Do you need help with Quality Assurance?

Let our professional QA team help you solve your software issues. Learn more about development and software testing services that we offer.

How to Write QA Documentation That Will Work?

A software product is like an airplane: it must undergo a technical check before the launch

At last your designers and a team of developers finish work on an excellent, compiling, and feature-rich website. Your clients are so excited! They are ready to make a payment to your company’s account. The last and only thing that should be done is testing the product before the final release. Yet, if someone thinks that it is a quick and simple process that can be neglected, I have some bad news for them…

Quality Assurance is a necessary step towards launching a successful software product. It is just a small part of all project work, but nobody says it is simple. There are so many types of software testing — automated and manual, exploratory and functional, compatibility, UI/UX, regression, unit, API, and performance testing. Good luck wrapping your head around all of them! 

What is common for all these types, however, is that each requires you to write a thorough QA software testing documentation. The quality of test documents defines whether your work will prove useful or go in vain. 


Types of QA Documentation

  • Test Plan

A test plan is a document or a set of documents that describe all test activities within one project and outline all work carried out by a testing team or one tester. A test plan can include the following elements: the object of testing, work schedule and deadlines, criteria for the beginning and end of testing, strategy description, risks, and a list of tasks to be done.

  • Test Design

A test design is the process of designing and creating test cases for further testing of software. Test design should always consider the specifications of a project as well as requirements.

  • Test Case

A test case is a formal document that contains a detailed description of steps and actions that should be taken to test the functionality or one of its aspects. Test case strictly specifies criteria for the functionality to pass QA testing. Each company has its own rules for test case, but to some extent, these rules are similar everywhere.

  • Use Case

A use case is also a document for testing a product or software, but it is less formal. Use case is used to predict certain use case scenarios and based on these scenarios, build strategies for testing a product. Use cases are often developed based on business objectives and critical test path validation.

  • Defect Report

A defect report is a document or a case that describes the situation, the sequence of steps that led to an error on the tested software. Most often, defect or bug reports also include a description of the expected correct result for this particular sequence of steps.

  • Checklist

A checklist is a document that contains a brief description of the functionality of the software for testers to check it. Creating and writing checklists usually goes instead of writing test cases since checklists speed up preparation for testing.

  • Software Requirements Specification

The software requirements specification is a complete and detailed description of the software being developed. I can outline the following features of software requirements specification:

  1. comprehensive description of the functionality of a product;
  2. clarity of requirements;
  3. absence of inaccuracies in the description;
  4. simplicity of concepts described;
  5. fairly clear detail.

But it’s still unclear for you how to write high-quality QA documentation? I write this article to make your life a bit easier. So here it is, your ultimate guide on how to write software QA documentation that will work.

Do you need help with Quality Assurance?

Let our professional QA team help you solve your software issues. Learn more about development and software testing services that we offer.

Make a Test Plan and a Test Progress Report

The test plan and progress report are fundamental components of the quality organization of the testing process. They include all necessary and important information that describes the testing process. The creation of a test plan incomparably improves the quality of a product. It allows you to analyze whether all stages of testing flow successfully and effectively.

Before creating a QA plan document, ask yourself “What is the purpose of the software solution?” and “What features need to be tested?”. Do not rush into testing every single part of your software. You need to decide what methodologies, technologies, and tools will you use.

The test plan will help you understand the following: 

  • What are the acceptance criteria?
  • What resources do you need? What operating systems, how many copies, and with what license? Do you need any technical consultants?
  • Are your roles and responsibilities well-designated?
  • What are the testing timeframes?

The test progress report is another part of the QA documentation, which is similar to the test plan but with added data on the current progress. This document lets you and your development team monitor project progress and identify organizational issues if any.

Create Test Cases

Once you clarified the set of functions that need to be tested in your test plan, you need to create a test case for each part of your software. Test cases are pretty simple – this QA documentation consists of 7 sections: ID, Test Case, Testing Steps, Expected Result, Status, Actual Result, and Comments.

1. ID is a unique number assigned to your test case.

2. In the Test Case section, you point out the requirement you will be testing and provide a link to it in the specifications document.

3. In the Testing Steps section, you list all the actions needed to complete a test case.

4. In the Expected Result section, you summarize the outcome of a particular test if it is successful.

5. In the Status section, you indicate if a particular step passed or failed testing.

6. In the Actual Result section, you explain what was the outcome of a failed test.

7. The Comments section is not obligatory, but you can add it to leave some additional notes.

Write a Defect Report

The defect report is an important element of QA documentation, which registers any unwanted issue with your program. It is a crucial element of the project documentation, which navigates you towards getting a bug-free software solution. Sounds simple, right? Yes, but only until you start documenting. Here, you can see the example of a typical defect report:

The defect report consists of the following sections: identifier, summary, description, steps to reproduce, reproducibility, severity, priority, environment, and attachments.

  1. Each particular software issue is assigned a unique number – the identifier. It optimizes navigation through QA documents and facilitates communication between developers, testers, and PMs.
  2. In the summary section, you provide a concise answer to three simple questions: what happened, where, and under what circumstances. 
  3. In the description section you describe the bug in all the details. You should tell about the actual results and the expected ones. It would be useful to provide a link to your software requirements.
  4. Then, you write about the steps to reproduce (STR). It shows developers exactly how to reproduce the issue. Don’t miss a step or your report may return to you.
  5. In the reproducibility section, you clarify if the bug appears every time you follow the STR. You should use numbers to show approximate chance e.g. 7 times out of 10.
  6. In the severity section, you explain how much harm the bug may bring to the project. In other words, it shows the technological degree of influence of the defect on the entire system. Even a small issue may badly affect the entire application.
  7. Priority shows how important a particular defect report is. Priority can be denoted with the help of letters – “A” for the most urgent and “Z” for the least urgent, numbers – “1” for the most urgent and “9” for the least urgent, or simply words like “high”, “medium”, or “low”.
  8. In the environment section, you should define which operating systems or browser versions were affected.
  9. Finally, the attachments include the list of videos, screenshots, or console logs files added to the defect report.

Keep These Useful Tips for Defect Report Writing in Mind

  1. Write a sufficient and adequate summary. It does not matter if it is long or short. What matters is that it should be clear.
  2. Have a look at the summary and the description. Do they look pretty much the same? You must have forgotten to outline expected and actual results in the description and to add the link to requirements.
  3. Capture the issue with the help of a screenshot. It may save you and the development team a lot of time. Sometimes, one glance at the picture is just enough to understand the situation.
  4. Before reporting the issue, try to reproduce it at least 3 times to be sure that it exists. 
  5. Report the issue ASAP and notify your project manager or product owner if the issue is major. 
  6. Take a look at grammar mistakes in your QA documentation for you not to be taken down by the grammar police. 
  7. However comical it sounds, make sure that the issue is not a feature – review the documentation again!
  8. Do not miss any important information in your Steps to Reproduce.

Submit a Defect Report

Defect reports go through a lifecycle – from the moment you report an issue to the moment the issue is closed.

The first step is to compile and submit the defect report. At this point, the Project Manager or a tech lead decides whether to assign it to a developer or to decline it on the ground of insufficiency or inadequacy. After the assigned developer has fixed the bug, you as a QA have to double-check and verify that it has been fixed. If yes, you can close the defect report. The best practice is to close it in a week or two. If the bug is not fixed, you reopen the defect report and send it back to the assigned developer. The bug-fixing process can be a long one, but you have to stay strong until all the defect reports are finally closed.

To Wrap Up

You simply cannot avoid software Quality Assurance services. Each airplane prior to the departure undergoes a technical check. If there is any issue, the aircraft is grounded until the problem is solved. Similarly, each software product needs to be checked before a launch. You cannot afford to deploy bugged software because users will not give your app a second chance.

Important Ways Cloud Computing Improves Web App Development

Best use of resources, scalability, cost-saving measures — all of this is possible with cloud computing!

Web development changes a lot each year, and in some ways, even on a monthly basis. New advancements in data storage, information sharing, and coding frameworks impact the way developers build websites and applications. Web apps in particular shine a light on just how dynamic the web development process can be from a new project’s start to finish.

A central element to web app development’s constant state of change is cloud computing technology. Thanks to cloud-based technology, developers are able to build faster, more reliable websites that utilize more resources than ever before. Applications are held to a higher standard each and every year because of what cloud software development offers in terms of developer tools and efficiency. 

With all of this in mind, it’s important to know the ins and outs of cloud network’s role in web app development when planning for an upcoming project. So, what are some of the most important ways cloud application development services can impact this process? Let’s explore everything you’ll need to know.

How Web Apps Interact with Cloud Technologies

Cloud computing infrastructure is impacting just about every element of digital life. The market is on pace to continue growing after exceeding $258 billion in 2020 with a 6% growth in usage. Cloud software is utilized in a number of different ways. The average smartphone owner might not know much about the cloud-based services, but the chances are that they use Dropbox, Google Cloud Platform, or iCloud to share personal and professional files and data. If so, they’re relying on cloud computing services without even knowing how they work. 

The top iPhone app developers and web-based application architects will tell you that cloud computing development is a must for modern programming and app configuration. Cloud servers that exist in locations outside of a business or a user’s device host and store data and information that make web applications possible. It’s a smarter, easier way to power a useful new app without bearing the brunt of server costs, location considerations, and other outdated elements of what used to go into an application. 

A web app can be anything a user accesses from a web browser. In 2021, it’s not a given that a user is using a traditional computer or laptop. That’s given rise to progressive web apps that offer a mobile experience as well as a desktop interface. These increasingly mobile trends we see in users is just one feature of cloud computing that helps make apps more successful. People are just more comfortable and familiar with accessing the web via their mobile devices now. It’s why major trends point to everything from basic website visits to activities involving sensitive info that must operate across numerous devices.

Speaking of sensitive info, businesses and individuals now share their most sensitive info with online applications because many things are going digital. For example, over 3/4ths of Americans bank via an application now instead of traveling to a bank. This could prove to be a worrisome data breach threat, but cloud computing software development keeps users and businesses safe. Detailed encryption processes and numerous safeguards against information breaches help ensure everyone is safer when using a cloud-based application. The benefits extend far greater than security, including these crucial considerations.

Cloud Computing Benefits for App Development

Web application development starts with finding the right server. Cloud computing servers offer the best experience to date, but they also come with a variety of other benefits developers love. Here are some of the top reasons developers choose cloud-based application development:

  • Best Use of Resources

There’s a good reason why 57% of businesses are moving their web applications to the cloud. First and foremost, cloud web development gives programmers a host of predetermined resources to help build out the application. Rather than writing a new application from scratch, cloud hosting services can offer dev teams a slew of great assets to assist in the process.

It’s not just the build stage either: cloud based web app development services can offer everything from posture management to enhanced cloud security that fights against misconfigurations. There’s a strong peace of mind that comes from building an app out with cloud resources, and it extends well beyond the launch of your next project. 

  • Scalability

If all goes well with your new web application, then you need to be prepared for growth. Growth isn’t easy to manage without the means to grow as your audience does. For that, many agree that cloud-based software solutions offer the most scalability for programmers in terms of ensuring a web application stays fast, efficient, and easy to navigate even as more and more people begin to use it. 

A great example of this is Health First, a healthcare system that utilizes a cloud-based app for assisting patients in communicating with their doctor. When COVID-19 increased the number of people seeking virtual healthcare solutions, their cloud-based app was scalable and allowed for more users without the dips in speed and efficiency, as compared with some poorly-scaled apps experience. Growth is always possible, and that makes scalable solutions a must.

  • Cost-Saving Measures

Lastly, cloud application development offers web app developers a number of cost-cutting measures. Firstly, virtualization and cloud apps allow for the developer to access all their necessary build tools online. This way, they don’t need to worry about building server farms or upgrading to new hardware. The cost-savings extend to consumers who use cloud-based mobile applications as well. 

Without the need to pay an up-front investment into new hardware that allows for web servers, the costs literally decrease from the start of a new project. For businesses seeking better solutions on tighter budgets after 2020 losses, this is good news.

Future Implications of Cloud Computing in Web App Development

Web app development will continue to rely on cloud service providers in bigger and better ways. Rather than debate the benefits of cloud computing, most businesses and cloud computing users are recognizing that cloud computing resources are the best option now and will be moving forward.

Planning a new web app can be overwhelming, but in the right hands and given the benefits cloud computing offers for developers, the process is smoother than ever. Get started today and harness the many benefits of cloud computing for your next web application. 

Do you need help with augmenting your business processes with cloud technology?

We have sound experience in cloud app development, and we would be happy to apply this knowledge for your benefit.

Alex Pletnov Alex Pletnov CTO

What’s the Future of Proptech Development?

Let’s make it clear whether property technology is worth your time and money

What Is Proptech?

People who are going to buy a piece of real estate usually think that the only task is to get money and purchase the desired property. However, the process of purchasing is frequently not that simple. Apart from compliance inspections and dozens of contacts, they need to deal with property zoning and affidavits. To make people’s lives a bit easier, web and mobile app developers once decided that it’s the right time to enter the property market. That’s how the proptech field has developed. As you might guess, proptech refers to the integration of technology into the real estate market.

Today, proptech websites and mobile applications help better visualize property construction processes and modernize purchasing of real estate. We can characterize the proptech field as one of the aspects of digitalization strategy aimed to increase productivity and performance via technological integration. But before talking about proptech in action, let me clarify what advantages users get with proptech and how it changes the “Covid-19” market.

What Benefits Property Technology Gives

Proptech encompasses several subfields. I will show you how proptech software development works in each of the main ones. 

  • Construction

Construction process is always based on a project that’s developed in advance. Project work requires team members to apply a systematic approach and efficiently organize their collaboration. The actions of designers, for example, have a direct influence on the actions of constructors. Therefore, project executors should make sure that all decisions are agreed upon and negotiated by the whole team. With proptech, team members get the chance to collaborate using one, unified platform.

There’s no need for the team to update information manually — data is available in real-time thanks to the functionality and capacities of a platform. As a result, the project aims are executed faster and more effectively, which boosts performance and, subsequently, profitability. Also, during the construction, everyone strives to use resources effectively to reduce risks and prevent losses. How can this goal be achieved? Via planning, estimating, and forecasting. And it’s far more convenient when all team members have the chance to run these processes in one single system. Doing so, they see a general picture and save time, money, and effort. 

  • Purchasing and Renting

Property software development makes it more convenient for people to buy or rent real estate. You can choose, review, compare different pieces of real estate without leaving your home. Do you want to choose the best solution in terms of price, location, or reliability? Then you only need to set the necessary parameters in an app or on a website, and proptech will do everything for you. Everyone has ever heard about Airbnb, a world-known property-for-rent enterprise. Since the beginning, the company has also been the example of proptech in action. The developers of this software solution did a really great job: users get flexibility and value, choosing between thousands of options in one place.

  • Investing

If you consider the real estate market as a space for investing money, then proptech can ease the process as well. There are many websites and applications that allow you to compare pieces of real estate from a commercial viewpoint. Which location will ensure you a winning strategy? What type of commercial property works best in this particular area? The answers to these questions can be found on such websites. 

Let’s take LoopNet as an example. On LoopNet, you can not only look for commercial property but also analyze options based on the chosen criteria. The website offers an extensive inventory for those who are planning to invest in property. Imagine how much money users save: instead of requesting consulting services, they just turn on their laptops, and proptech websites do everything for them.

  • Coworking

Managing coworking spaces is not the most evident example of proptech — yet, one of the most effective ones. Today, property software development gives you the chance to manage a coworking system in one platform. You can track your membership, make payments, get notifications about upcoming or recent events, and receive newsletters. For the owners of coworking spaces, proptech is also an effective solution. Tracking customers and integrating marketing strategies backed by MRM (Membership Relationship Management) save you money spent on administrative tasks and make management processes smooth. 

How Property Technology Works During the Pandemic

Here, we will talk about proptech trends that make this field relevant under coronavirus conditions. 

Remote Building Management

Remote data management can be difficult if there is no unified system. I advise developing a single and centralized platform that will synchronize usage-based information about both technologies involved in building and services installed.

Such systems are so convenient that managers don’t stop using them even while real-time collaboration. Estimate analysis, on the background of strategic planning and programming review, definitely makes a change. 

Smart Space Management

As physical distancing has become an ultimate condition of people’s interaction, effective space management with the help of proptech also comes in handy. On the one hand, smart space management solutions ensure safety and distancing. On the other hand, they allow for a secure collaborative process. Smart space management is realized with Machine Learning algorithms and sensors that not only visualize people density within the given space but also prepare reports and provide forecasts about hazardous areas in the office. 

PropTech as a Future of Real Estate

Now, we see how proptech software development is revolutionizing the real estate market — tech solutions improve the quality of human interaction. Apart from the web and mobile solutions, deep tech helps this field grow, enhancing the potential of predictive analytics and the capacities of big data management. Below, I describe particular areas that, as I think, form the ground for the proptech evolution. 

Blockchain and Purchasing

Who benefits? CRE executives. 

Blockchain technology is today frequently used in the commercial real estate business. Commercial Real Estate (CRE) executives tend to choose contacts developed under blockchain technology because it eases the process of buying and selling. 

What if I tell you that under a blockchain-based contract, you are able to perform financial transactions and management operations in one place? In fact, it all boils down to smart decision-making and more effective financial administration.

VR and Interactive Tours

Who benefits? The owners of real estate agencies. 

If you are the owner of a real estate agency, the opportunity of VR tours can really make your business stand out from the competition. By 2025, it’s expected that VR technology will be used by more than 1.4 million real estate agents. Clients will have no need to have numerous trips to the house since they will see everything in the interactive VR tours. 

Moreover, VR technology helps to emotionally connect customers to their future home. They easily immerse themselves in a cozy atmosphere of a house and get inspired by the interactive elements of design. As a result, your customers will fall in love with a place even before they buy it or at least see it in reality.

3D Technology and Renovated Models

Who benefits? Designers and construction executives. 

Robotics technology becomes more sophisticated and performs complex tasks. Design planning and construction are under the focus of robotics development. Have you heard about the company called Boston Dynamics, for example? In 2005, they created a robot known as BigDog. Such robots are applied in the property field as they can be mounted with 3D cameras and map the surroundings.

In the picture above, you see the example of an automatic visualization made on the basis of 3D technology. Why do designers and construction executives use automated valuation models? Because it helps them visualize work progress and provide information about hazards and risks. 

Wrap Up

I have no doubt that investing in proptech is a good idea if you aim for long-term results. There are two main reasons for me to think so. First, the real estate business will never cease because of the physical need of humans to have a home, do commercial activities, and manage their space effectively. The property market will exist till the time people need it. For how long will they need it? Imagine the future without homes, shops, hospitals, colleges, cinemas, without the whole infrastructure — can you? Me neither, and that’s the answer.

Second, with the benefits of modern technologies, proptech will grow doubly faster than 5 or 10 years ago. For the real estate business, time is the main asset. The goal of a project team responsible for the construction is to give quick results, maximizing quality and minimizing expenses. Integrating such technologies as 3D, robotics, blockchain, or VR into your business, you double your chances to keep it competitive and relevant for years — the choice is yours.

Do you have an idea for a proptech solution?

Let us prove our expertise in property software development. Read more about the services we offer and the challenges we solve.

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

What Can You Get with AI in Content Creation?

AI in content creation: what you get and how it works

No one will argue with the fact that content making requires a lot of time and effort. Before you start writing an article, you need to conduct profound research on the given topic and gather interesting facts that will be incorporated into the piece. But thanks to AI development, content making becomes much easier. 

Today, with the help of AI tools, you can not only adjust or edit the existing content but also produce a new, original piece. Some years ago, we did not even imagine how “clever” our translation tools would become. I think that the same is waiting for AI and ML. After a while, we will use AI tools as a means for generating errorless, meaningful, compelling, and simply perfect articles.

A lot of progress in AI content making has been made so far. Of course, the algorithms of the existing tools are not effective enough and require us to double-check and edit the output text. However, such tools can significantly reduce the time spent on research. If you are a bearer of a startup idea or a software developer, AI content creation can be a perfect niche to take since it is not overwhelmed so far. But how to start?

Based on the example of a text generator, I will show you how to create an AI content creation tool.

How to Create a Content Generator Tool

Do you want to create a text generator? Let’s do it together. Our model of text generation will be based on the comparison of symbols instead of words. Text generators function on the basis of text sequence. A text sequence is a sequence of characters where the probability of character C after character A is not the same as the probability of character A after character C. Therefore, it is doubly important to train neural networks correctly and accurately. 

To date, the most popular solution for text generation is the use of recurrent neural networks RNN or LSTM. So the first task for us is to choose the neural network. Choosing a network is necessary for the generation of the Features Engineering (FE) vector. Next, we should select a set of input texts for training. For example, if we want to generate a scientific text, we should choose a set of texts in the given style. If we want to generate a literary text, we must choose a set of literary works accordingly.

When we selected the type of neural network and chose the input texts, our task is to generate a set of single characters: letters and symbols such as commas, periods, spaces, etc. They should be represented by certain numerical values. For instance, the letter R can be represented by the number 10, and S — by the number 11. This approach makes it easier for us to train the neural network because the machine better “understands” the so-called language of numbers.

The next step is pre-processing, which is the processing of input data. In our case, input data is a text. In fact, we need to generate training input vectors (an array of characters) with the appropriate labels. A label is a succeeding character with regard to the corresponding input. Let’s look at an example — the phrase “machine learning.” In this case, the training and labeled array will look as follows:

Training     Labeled

[‘m’, ‘a’, ‘c’, ‘h’, ‘i’], [‘n’]

[‘‘a’, ‘c’, ‘h’, ‘i’, ‘n’], [‘e’]

[‘c’, ‘h’, ‘i’, ‘n’, ‘e’], [‘ ’]

[ ‘h’, ‘i’, ‘n’, ‘e’, ‘ ’], [‘l’]

[‘i’, ‘n’, ‘e’, ‘ ’, ‘l’], [‘e’]

[‘n’, ‘e’, ‘ ’, ‘l’, ‘e’], [‘a’]

And so on. I should note that on the contrary to the example, the data for training are presented in numerical form. These are the basic data for LSTM training that are pre-normalized.

Our next task is to build the neural network itself. The quality of the neural network is determined by the following factors: number of hidden layers, batch size, and number of epochs. These parameters are selected individually based on the best practices of neural networks. Pre-processing and training on such data takes a lot of time and actually depends on the size of the input data (texts).

So, we trained the neural network to the required quality. Our final task is to generate the appropriate text sequences. It is necessary to set the input “sentence” of the text in order to start generating the text based on this sentence. It means that to start the post-processing — the generation of the text of the algorithm — we should set a couple of words so that the algorithms can come to action. And that’s actually it!

Do you feel that creating your own text generator is too complicated? Then you should look for the existing tools that help create content. Let’s review some of them to see how these tools function and what advantages they can give you. 

AI Tools for Content Creation

Articoolo 

Articoolo is a tool for creating small pieces of content  — 500 words max. Now, Articoolo is available in beta, but it seems that the tool is not under development so far.

The tool has two functions: writing a new short post or article and rewriting the existing one. All you need is to enter keywords for generating content and wait until the tool processes them and gives the output. 

Yet, Articoolo has some limitations — if keywords are too completed, the tool cannot recognize and process them to write a piece of content. There is also a limitation for the number of keywords that can be chosen — from 2 to 5. One more issue is errors that occur regardless of whether the topic you choose is technical or not.

The articles and posts produced by the tool are original — no plagiarism is found by Google and Google Scholar. Below, you can see the price list for Articoolo services:

Of course, the tool is not perfect. I think that it would be better if the solution gave users the opportunity to specify more keywords so that they could add some peculiarities to the content. In addition, I wish there were no blockers in case the content could not be generated. It would be far more convenient if there was a recommendation on how to change the keywords to get the best result.

FraseIO 

FraseIO is a very interesting tool. On the basis of several words, FraseIO can create a whole package of data about the given query:

  • FAQ
  • Basic definitions
  • Topics
  • Articles
  • Links
  • And a bunch of other useful things

FraseIO will come in handy if you need to generate certain answers for chatbots, online services, or applications. Also, it allows you to optimize existing content.

While testing this tool, I did not notice any bugs. FraseIO seems to be very useful for content making since it gives a lot of output info. For example, look at the results for the query “machine learning features engineering”:

Quillbot

Quillbot is a tool that gives you the chance to adjust your content to a certain style. You can choose between the following styles:

  • Standard
  • Fluency
  • Creative
  • Formal
  • Shorten
  • Expand

To see how it works, I chose the following excerpt from Wikipedia:

“Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. On Earth, most weather phenomena occur in the lowest level of the planet’s atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere.”

The text is written in a publicist style. Here are the results:

Drawbacks of the Existing Solutions

One of the main disadvantages of such solutions is the probability of errors in the text. On the one hand, syntactic mistakes are the most common: incorrectly generated ending of a word, incorrect use of tenses, and so forth. Sometimes, such tools disregard sentence construction rules in different languages, which also leads to errors and requires users to take time to edit and proofread the text. 

On the other hand, the generated text can be syntactically perfect but meaningless in terms of content. It can also be difficult for a tool to generate content on uncommon or very specific topics. It will be simply unable to find appropriate sources of information for training. In fact, in all described cases, human intervention is needed to make the final presentation of the generated content relevant.

Looking for the Alternative: Custom Solutions

As you see, the existing solutions are far from perfect. In case of some inconveniences or errors, you get no guarantee or support from the development team. If you still feel the need to integrate AI content creation tools into your business, then a custom solution will be a better choice. First of all, custom software development ensures that you get maintenance and support needed for the proper functioning of your product.

Besides, custom solutions are far more practical and convenient in terms of functionality. None of the AI content generation tools presented on the market fully meets users’ needs. On the contrary to the presented options, we offer you a high-quality product that will meet both your and your customers’ expectations. Errorless, meaningful, clear, and compelling content — this is what AI development services can bring you.

You will no longer need to care about data security, regular maintenance, and quality assurance. Let our company do it for you and turn your idea into reality to please your users with a unique and highly-competitive software solution!

Do you have an idea for a content creation AI solution?
Is there some business challenge that you think can be solved with an outstanding AI content-making solution?
Find out more about AI implementation and other software development services we provide!
Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

Are You Making the Most of Cloud Computing Services?

There is always more you can do with cloud computing services: there are always new options for improving operational efficiency or implementing new methods.

The difference between using something and using it to its full potential is immensely significant in the world of digital technology. Consider something as ubiquitous as word-processing software, for instance. How many office workers have been using Microsoft Word for years — perhaps even decades at this point — without being aware of its entire range of features?

If you have not had the experience of unexpectedly discovering a convenient function within a familiar piece of software, you are probably in the minority of professionals. We tend to pick up new elements of technology as we go along, meaning our understanding of them is inevitably riddled with holes: even someone who attends a comprehensive training course on a new suite will not come away from it knowing absolutely everything there is to know.

Further complicating things, the immense growth of cloud computing and networking in recent years has greatly widened this disparity. Pushed along by the unexpected demands of the COVID-19 era, companies of all shapes and sizes have moved away from local networking, trusting their files and processes to the somewhat-mysterious online world.

That sense of mystery is impactfulhere because the nebulous cloud computing services have a lotto offer, and those who do not understand it well cannot use it very comprehensively. Are you making the most of the cloud technology at your disposal, or could — should — you be doing more with it? Might better use of the cloud be the key to growing your business? That is what we are going to consider.


In this article, we will prove three benefits of cloud computing:

  1. Cloud technology is not just a convenient substitute to traditional operations but a lot more
  2. Cloud computing services allow astounding operational flexibility, which you might not be using yet
  3. Computing cloud technology offers convenient and intuitive automation, and not everyone is aware of it

Cloud computing services are far more than a convenient substitute

In many cases, the cloud is simply viewed as offering replacements for myriad facets of everyday operations. Instead of owning a private server, you rent a virtual server. Instead of storing your data locally and protecting the premises, you task a company with storing it elsewhere and handling the security (both physical and virtual) on your behalf. And for the sake of expediency, it is easy to see why so many people — particularly managers — would hold this view. When the time came to abandon the old way of working and migrate to the cloud infrastructure, they wanted to change as few things as possible. Possessing substantial skill in IT is not as commonplace as you might think.

Most workers only know what they need to know to get by: how to access their emails, how to create spreadsheets, and other such tasks. Accordingly, if things have been configured correctly while their companies moved to the cloud, things will seem much the same to them. Cloud storage can be mapped to local drive letters, after all.


However, cloud technology offers farmore than equivalent user experiences. It brings immense power to the table, and taking every opportunity to exploit that power should be a major priority.

Still, there is nothing inherently wrong with using cloud technology as a substitute for the simplest business operations. In fact, it is a good thing. Reluctance to let go of old methods and processes often holds businesses back, and a simple cloud-based operation is more secure and reliable than its local equivalent. Such a view is, however, extremely myopic.

Cloud computing allows astounding operational flexibility

Underpinning so much of global cloud operations, complex platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure offer remarkable levels of opportunity — and perhaps the most special thing about them is that they are available to anyone. Enterprise businesses make great use of this Platform as a Service. Yet, the same way, an individual can pay the fees and use them however they like.

In addition to offering huge ranges of tightly-integrated applications with APIs for third-party access, cloud services are incredibly scalable, meaning they can spike or sink your resource use as needed. When you need enough bandwidth to endure a day of heated interest in your website, it is there — and if your data use dips to almost nothing due to inactivity, you will only be charged for what you actually use (assuming that is how you configured your plan).


Cloud computing services offer a wide variety of tools for diverse users, and these tools are scalable to make sure that neither your budget nor website performance will suffer.

All of this may sound intimidating, but it is not as complicated as it sometimes sounds. Consider that the cloud providers are eager to help businesses use their systems: the more data you use and apps you license, the more money they will make. This drives them to provide comprehensive documentation and support end-users wherever possible.

Very often, this support is outsourced to cloud-based solution distributors: they are somewhat analogous to the retail chains that sell (and assist with) products on behalf of the manufacturers. Each distributor has a unique set of specializations and relationships with developers. Whatever cloud system you might use, there will be a cloud solution distributor to deal with the deployment and provide you with any training you will need. This assistance will come at a cost, naturally, but it will be worth it. Having such a system in place will allow you to launch secondary projects at a rapid clip with minimal risk. If they do not pan out, you can simply shut them down whenever you want.

Cloud services offer convenient and intuitive automation

In addition to ramping up flexibility, cloud technology makes business automation accessible and surprisingly simple. Even among those who understand how transformative the addition of automated workflows can be, there is a prevailing acceptance that it is intimidatingly complex — but that is not the case if you use certain tools.

Since we already touched upon Microsoft, let’s use Power Automate (formerly Flow) cloud computing service as an example. Offering templates and a range of connectors allowing easy cross-system functionality, Power Automate is sufficiently approachable that anyone capable of using Excel should be able to cobble something workable together with little experience.


Cloud applications offer multiple opportunities for automating repetitive tasks.

And with everything (almost everything, at least) running in the cloud, these workflows can become incredibly potent. Think about how many areas of your business could benefit from repetitive tasks being handled by cloud services. Onboarding is a great example, particularly now that remote working is normal. Getting new hires up to speed at a distance can be tricky. Through automation, you can line up an onboarding process with clearly-defined steps to ensure that each new hire gets the guidance they need without requiring steady manual support. You can then check on them periodically to see how they are doing, but otherwise put your time toward vital tasks that better warrant your direct involvement.

And then there is a matter like customer support, something that automated chatbots can transform. Powered by the scalability of cloud computing, a chatbot can field an indefinite number of simultaneous queries, ensuring that it keeps functioning correctly long after you would run out of human resources.

To Wrap Up

Cloud platforms have near-limitless business potential. No one is truly making the most of it, and that is an exciting truth. It means there is always more you can do: there are always new options for improving operational efficiency or implementing new methods.


The main takeaway from this article is that you can not realistically be making the most of cloud technology because it is just that versatile.

What you need to focus on, then, is making a long-term commitment to technological iteration and improvement. When new features are added, take note of them, and determine how they might play into your day-to-day business. When you find new resources detailing the possibilities of cloud technology, learn from them. Provided you keep moving in the right direction, you will never fall far behind the curve.

Do you need help with augmenting your business processes with cloud technology?

We have sound experience in cloud app development, and we would be happy to apply this knowledge for your benefit.

Alex Pletnov Alex Pletnov CTO

Hand Tracking Using AI: What’s Under the Hood?

Everything you should know about hand tracking technology if you want to implement it in your product

Hand Tracking: Why Do We Need It?

When I look at the potential of modern technologies, I try to visualize what the world of the future will look like. If we have such broad opportunities today, what is waiting for us tomorrow? It seems that our grandparents and parents could not even imagine the devices that today have become an indispensable part of our lives. 

Wearable Technology Definition

The features of present-day technologies never cease to amaze me. If you or people around you have an Apple Watch, you’ve definitely heard about its most interesting and useful functions. Users having monitoring devices get the chance to monitor their heart rhythm, measure blood oxygen level, and even track their breath rate. But what if I tell you that these functions are nothing compared to the overall potential of hand tracking?

First of all, devices like smartwatches (69.3 million sales in 2019 worldwide) function on the basis of wearable technology. What is wearable technology? It is the technology that forms the core of wearable devices. The latter detect, interpret, and gather information about body signals using AI technology. Wearables are known for their wide application: from commercial use to healthcare, from navigation to textile.

Market Analysis

IBISWorld reports on wearable device manufacturing in the US point to the great prospects of this field. It is expected that the wearable technology market will continue to grow even under the conditions of the pandemic. First, wearables are becoming mainstream in fashion. Second, they give users the chance to be aware of their health metrics without leaving their homes, which also allows them to feed two birds with one scone.

Along with wearable devices, technology of hand tracking and gesture recognition is developing. It is more complex and serves as a logical extension of touchscreen technology. By 2025, the gesture recognition market size will likely grow to USD 30.6 billion — Grand View Research states. Moreover, because of its advanced functions and easy adoption by end users, hand tracking is expected to fully transform human-machine interaction. So, we’ve made it clear why AI development companies are so popular now and why hand tracking is called the future that’s available today. And now, let’s discuss how hand tracking actually works.

How It Works

Do you have a wearable device like Apple Watch, Withings, or Galaxy Watch?  Then you know that wearable devices are configured through a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth. The development of wearable technology became possible due to the fourth version of Bluetooth — Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). BLE significantly reduces power consumption and increases battery longevity. 

Every time you wear a wearable device, it records data from an accelerometer and gyroscope. Data from each axis is recorded to internal memory. The sampling frequency of this data depends on several factors: the configuration of devices of a particular manufacturer, their functionality, and users’ physical activity. 

The most common example of hand tracking in action is counting steps. For this purpose, you can use ready-made methods that are based on mathematical polynomials, neural networks, and machine learning algorithms. However, now this task is solved in a simpler way — using a ready-made motion-detection mechanism of the accelerometer of a device itself. 

Using Digital Motion Processor (DMP), you get initial information about hand tracking with minimal use of wearable device resources and without using your smartphone. For example, there is a hand gesture of putting a smartwatch in a horizontal position. This gesture turns on the screen light of a device so that a user can view information on a screen. Therefore, using a DMP and processor of a wearable device, you can perform basic check-ups on specific movement detection.

Yet, the use of DMP applies only to basic aspects of hand tracking. For more complex functionality, you should use the CPU of a processor or external devices such as a smartphone or cloud computing in the form of lambda functions. That is, to obtain more complex data, a wearable device must record lower-level information: the value of an accelerometer and gyroscope along the x, y, z axes. Below, you can see how the components of Apple Watch look like.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/

Next, information from internal memory must be transmitted over a certain network interface to a smartphone or remote server (or lambda). Algorithms process this data using neural networks and machine learning. When they have processed data on the database, output metrics are transmitted to the end user. These metrics can include the following: peculiarities of walking or running, swimming style, or patient health indicators.

How to Develop Hand Tracking Technology

The task of developing hand tracking technology can hardly be named easy. One paragraph is not enough to describe all the subtleties that should be considered. To give you the maximum possible, I will subdivide this topic into two discussions: hardware peculiarities and hand tracking configuration. Let’s start with the first.

Hardware for Hand Tracking: What Is Needed?

The end output of any algorithm includes a certain result, metric, or coefficient. In our case, we want to use wearable technology to recognize specific gestures. Consequently, the task is to recognize a particular pattern of a hand movement. To develop hand-tracking, consider the following:

I should note that quite often, one wearable device is not enough to recognize movements. For example, if you need to recognize a combination of movements of two hands when swimming or running, you should use two wearable devices. Meantime, if you need to recognize certain movements of a person working at a telecom tower or oil well, you should have four devices. Only using four devices and more, you can detect specific gestures and get a full picture. Thus, for proper operation of algorithms, you should also determine the required number of wearable devices that will function as sources of data from an accelerometer and gyroscope.

An accelerometer, the source of data, is one more important element of wearable technology. Manufacturers of semiconductor electronics try to produce the most adaptive accelerometers that will fit market needs and be compatible with different sets of devices. A hardware component of accelerometers can differ in energy consumption, input noise of axes, and implemented motion-detection function.

You should know that the energy consumption of an accelerometer affects the durability of a device. The latter depends on how often its function of collecting data is used. I should also highlight that data collection can be performed on each device, including an accelerometergyroscope, and magnetometer, and on each of the x, y, z axes.

Source: https://www.tindie.com/

Data is the most important aspect of machine learning algorithms and neural networks. If data is inaccurate, it leads to poor training and inadequate output results of algorithms. It happens that the noise of certain frequencies is introduced directly by an accelerometer. Such a situation can also lead to the fact that parameters of feature engineering generated on the basis of axes will be invalid. Hence, you should consider the range of input noise when choosing a particular wearable device and its accelerometer.

Combining Hardware Data and Data Science

When a specific wearable device or several devices are selected, you can start configuring them. An important parameter to consider is the frequency of data collection from the accelerometer and gyroscope. In fact, the more data we get, the better for gesture recognition algorithms. As a result, the defined parameters of feature engineering that will be used for training will be more accurate. 

However, apart from the benefits, a large volume of data has its drawbacks. A high sampling frequency of accelerometer and gyroscope leads to higher power consumption and faster memory filling. In addition, the method of data transmission is used. For example, when for one second, a high-frequency recording is performed, and for another second, no data is recorded at all.

Subsequently, you should set the following parameters:

  • Sampling frequency;
  • Width of data collection window;
  • The channel of data transmission.

Data processing can be performed directly on a mobile device. For example, some smartwatches collecting data during your workout may show what exercise you are doing or what muscle group you are training. The gathered data is processed on a mobile device, where correlation parameters of feature engineering of specific axes of accelerometer and gyroscope are actually defined. 

Another way to define certain patterns is to use machine learning algorithms k-means and c-means, which will determine necessary characteristics and sequences of patterns. But what if you want to apply several wearable devices, for example, at a hospital for patients? Then, you should use the so-called edge device

Edge devices act as aggregators of device collection chosen from IoT devices — in our case, these are wearable devices. Wearable devices are connected via WiFi or Bluetooth to the edge device, which already sends data, for example, to AWS lambda. Here, the algorithm is directly executed using neural networks for recognizing specific parameters.

Hand Tracking Application

Today, hand tracking software is widely applied both for private purposes to recognize certain simple movements and for medical purposes to predict specific attacks in sick people. Let’s review different types of wearable technology in use to give you a better understanding of the potential of this field.

Use for Private Purposes

We’ll start with a simple example: hand tracking technology is used to detect whether a person wears a device or not. Or whether a wearable device has been taken or not. In fact, it all comes down to checking whether a person is active, whether it’s just a little activity, or whether the device is removed. 

Simple optical sensors can “detect” a person’s heart rate even if the device is not worn on the hand, which leads to erroneous values. At this point, an accelerometer and a gyroscope come in handy. With their help, on the basis of a fully connected neural network, you can define that the device is simply inactive for a long time. This is used to turn off the maximum number of functions when the device is not in use and save battery power in this way.

One more important function of wearable devices like an Apple Watch is defining when a user washes their hands. Apple Watch informs a user that they have not washed their hands yet. This is an instant message displayed directly on the wearable device. In this way, Apple Watch helps fight COVID-19 and other diseases that are transmitted by unclean hands.

Application in Healthcare

Wearable devices can be used for patients who, for instance, are being treated at home. Let’s take a person with Alzheimer’s disease who may suffer from attacks. These attacks can be predicted by wearable devices based on certain micro-oscillations of a hand, which are derived from an accelerometer or gyroscope.

Another common way of hand tracking application is detecting when an elderly using a wearable device has fallen. This function is frequently used by people who leave their older parents at home while being at work. Yet, you should consider that a certain number of falls are not detected due to the large variability of fall events. 

The fall event is determined by two key components — actual-fall event and after-fall event. The main algorithm of falling is executed on a wearable device. Once it is discovered that a person has fallen, a wearable device has to inform end users (for example, relatives or neighbors) about the case via an edge device or instant message.

Application in Sport

The use of wearable devices in sport allows people to define their style of swimming or running. Based on the obtained data, they can predict their physical capabilitiesget exercise tips, and detect physical shortcomings that may not be visible at first glance.

Wrap Up

This article explains everything you should know about hand tracking technology if you want to implement it in your product. As you see from the described examples, no matter what area or business you target — AI development will expand your opportunities everywhere. 

Hand tracking and gesture recognition that function on the basis of AI will be useful for those who care about their health and body or about their closest ones. Under the conditions of the pandemic, this description fits almost each of us, which also doubles your chances of developing a great and useful solution, And if you need more details, guidance, or friendly advice, do not hesitate to contact our specialists — we are always happy to help aspiring people reach their goals!

Do you want to develop a hand tracking solution?

Learn more about AI in hand tracking and find out how it can be implemented in your product!

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

PWA vs AMP: What Is the Difference and How to Choose?

Check these 8 questions and see what PWA and AMP is and what’s better in your case

In the developed world, almost everyone has a smartphone. The mobile software market opens endless opportunities to a business. However, these opportunities are immediately challenged by an immense number of competitors. Yes, mobile apps are way more convenient than web or desktop platforms. No, they are not the most comfortable option that the industry offers.

To strike the highest user satisfaction level and outrun competitors, inventive people opt for PWA mobile app development or choose to develop accelerated mobile pages (AMP). But what are these, and how to choose the best option? Let’s consider step-by-step:

  1. What is PWA?
  2. What is AMP?
  3. What is similar?
  4. What is different?
  5. Why is PWA better than web?
  6. Why is PWA better than native mobile?
  7. Why is AMP better than web?
  8. Why is AMP NOT better than native mobile?

1. What Is PWA?

PWA is a progressive web application, the purpose of which is to unite the advantages of both web and mobile apps into a single software product. As Google declares, PWAs are “user experiences that have the reach of the web and are reliable, fast, and engaging.” It is a technology that lets you use a website as if it was a native app.

Twitter is one of the major companies using PWA. To install it, you should open the web version on your phone and add it to your home screen. Once you open Twitter from the home screen icon, you will open it as a progressive web app.

Fundamentals

PWA is a highly responsive and easily shareable solution that can work offline. Progressive web apps store HTML and CSS files in the browser cache and archive them with service workers, making it possible to use the web page offline. Service workers are one of the three essential components of progressive web apps, along with the manifest file and a secure protocol HTTPS.

  • Service workers

These are JavaScript code components, which play the role of a proxy between the network and a browser. When you open a web page for the first time, service workers store the necessary data in the browser cache. When you open it for the second time, service workers retrieve this data from the cache even before the app checks network availability. Not only does it provide the opportunity to work offline, but also it greatly boosts the response time. Also, service workers manage push notifications.

  • The manifest file

This is a JSON file with all the information about your app. For instance, it contains data about the home screen icon of your PWA, its short name, color palette, and theme. If you are using the Chrome browser on an Android phone, the manifest file will trigger the automatic installation of the PWA onto your phone.

  • The secure HTTPS protocol

It’s an absolute must if you develop a progressive web app. While service workers make the very concept of PWA possible, they are vulnerable to network errors or breaches. Service workers can intercept network requests and modify responses. To ensure data security and network security, the secure protocol needs to be used.

Success stories

Twitter is not the only company that benefited from PWA. Check these case studies published by Google to see how this technology helped popular businesses succeed. Among these companies, there are PinterestAlibabaThe Weather Channel, and Lancome.

2. What Is AMP?

AMP is an accelerated mobile page — a mobile-friendly web page designed to be loaded instantly. It is a fast and smooth loading solution, which is developed with the user experience in mind. Introduced as an open-source project, the accelerated mobile page (AMP) technology was integrated by Google in February 2016.

In 2016, The Guardian announced that their platform is now available as AMP. To see the example of how it works, they advise checking the same article displayed as a web version and an AMP version. There are some differences, but they are insignificant. But what you’ll definitely notice is how much faster the AMP loads compared with the regular web.

*By comparing this illustration with the one I included earlier, you could notice an interesting point. A PWA needs to be installed. In turn, you do not need to install AMP. It is accessed via a different like.

Fundamentals

AMP’s idea is to reduce unnecessary content and functionality to display the vital content immediately. By using AMP, one can reduce the volume of data up to ten times. The three essential components of AMP are AMP HTML, AMP Components, and AMP Cache.

  • AMP HTML

This is a simplified version of a regular HTML. AMP HTML does not allow some tags and elements of HTML, such as forms. To understand better what AMP HTML should look like, check the required mark-up.

  • AMP Components

These are the scripts that enable you to do without Javascript. AMP’s idea is to get rid of all JavaScript scripts as they negatively affect page loading time. Yet, it does not mean that your page should do without animations, modified layouts, analytics data, autocomplete suggestions, or ads. There is an extensive library of components that enable you to implement these and many other features.

  • AMP Cache

It’s a proxy-based content delivery network, which fetches and caches page content. AMP Cache enables you as an app owner to easily introduce page updates. It optimizes and, if needed, modifies the AMP. 

Success stories

Same as with PWA, the community is very proud of the business advantages that the solution offers. There is a collection of success stories — case studies of companies that used AMP and benefited from it. MusementRCS MediaGroupCNBCThe Washington Post — these are the companies that are deciding or have already decided to implement AMP.

3. What Is Similar?

Both PWA and AMP are means of displaying web pages on mobile devices. Both are created to enhance the user experience. Both PWA and AMP help reduce page load time. While AMP may be slightly more effective in terms of loading speed, the difference between AMP and PWA loading times is barely noticeable. Google actively supports both technologies. There is a PWA page on Google Developers and an AMP page on Google Developers.

There are not so many similarities between AMP and PWA, but these similarities are essential. Let’s see what the differences are. Here goes the comparison of AMP with PWA.

4. What Is Different?

Appearance

  • PWA: you do not feel that you use a web page. PWA looks and feels like a mobile app.
  • AMP: you are well-aware that you use a web page because it looks the same.

Development

  • PWA: the application code is written either from scratch or with some parts of the existing code.
  • AMP: the existing code of a web page is stripped of unnecessary CSS and JS for the web page to load faster.

User experience

  • PWA: offers a much better user experience. It has push-notifications, a home screen icon, and no browser tabs. Also, it is much easier to download PWA since it’s lighter in size than a regular mobile app. It loads faster than a regular web version because of being embedded with App Shell. Moreover, PWA can be used when the network connection is down.
  • AMP: offers a slightly improved user experience since the page loads faster than regular. Yet, it is the only UX advantage that it offers. Unlike PWA, AMP cannot work offline.

Performance

  • AMP: from the SEO standpoint, it wins the PWA vs. AMP competition. Google favors these pages and lists them in the carousel of top stories, which increases the Click-Through Rate. 
  • PWA: does not have a direct advantage for SEO. However, a better user experience translates into higher retention rates, which helps you win the SEO.

Support

  • PWA: is not supported equally on all devices, it may have slight inconveniences with being displayed on iOS. Also, it does not support all the hardware functionalities, such as Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, or accelerometer. 
  • AMP: is supported by all major browsers on all devices.

Apps it is best suitable for

  • PWA: works perfectly for the apps that are aimed to interact with the user. E-commerce websites, social media, or online learning platforms where the app needs to be responsive and constantly updated can make use of this technology. This is why Twitter uses PWA.
  • AMP: is more suitable for the platforms with a wall of content, such as online magazines or newspapers. AMP loads content instantly, but the interaction opportunities are limited. This is why The Guardian has decided to employ AMP.

5. Why Is PWA Better than Web?

If you access a web page on mobile, you will have to deal with browser tabs, slow page load time, and annoying pop-ups. If your device has a relatively small screen or a slow network connection, surfing the web on it becomes unbearable. Progressive web apps solve this problem. In a few clicks, you install the app on your phone and get down to using it. No need to type a link, no browser tabs, and no pop-up screens. The app works fast, and it does even work if the network connection is down.

Alright, the benefits of this solution are evident, but it seems like the native mobile apps could work perfectly instead. No, it would not. Let’s see why PWA is better than native mobile.

6. Why Is PWA Better than Native Mobile?

To use a native mobile application, you have to find it in the App Store or Google Play catalogs. Then, you have to wait for some time to download it. There might be a case that you do not have enough free space on your device, so you need to spare some. In turn, PWA is installed and ready to be used in seconds. The file size is small but bound to increase while you are using the app and it is caching. Yet, the size of cached data depends on the amount of free storage you have on your device. 

Thus, PWA seems better than a web or native mobile app. Still, you should understand that this solution is not universal. Check our recent article on PWA vs Native to learn when a native app is a better choice than a PWA.

7. Why Is AMP Better than Web?

As mentioned above, web apps are slow and inconvenient, especially when accessed on mobile devices with small screen size or underpowered hardware. By getting rid of all the unnecessary user experience web components, accelerated mobile pages (AMP) solve this problem. AMPs perform four times faster and use ten times fewer data than regular web pages.

8. Why Is AMP NOT Better than Native Mobile?

Unfortunately, AMPs cannot substitute native mobile apps. They cannot be installed on the home screen, they still include browser tabs, and the functionality of such is limited to some basic stuff. Yet, for an online newspaper or an informational website, such as WebMD, it would be better to use AMP rather than a native mobile app. These do not require any additional functionality but for displaying page content.

To Wrap Up

Both AMP and PWA are powerful technologies, and our specialists develop both. The results of our PWA vs. AMP analysis can be described as follows:

  • AMP is easier, faster, and cheaper for you to develop
  • PWA offers more benefits.

We believe that progressive web apps are the future. Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are just too simple and limited in functionality to compete. 

Yet, each of these is neither a universal solution nor a panacea. Even AMP and PWA together may not meet all your demands.  Sometimes, you may need to choose conventional mobile solutions or other types of software. If you are still not sure what to choose, our specialists are always here to help you!

Do you need help with AMP or PWA development?

Our developers will gladly help you with both. Contact us! I will get you in touch with a developer, who will help you choose the most suitable technology – AMP vs PWA vs native mobile.

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement