How Much Does It Cost To Build a Web Application?

A well-executed web application can be business altering. It is integral to streamlining business processes, improving efficiency, and ultimately – makes a team’s life a whole lot easier.

A company like SingleMind doesn’t become an established software development service provider by not being able to fully explain our process and why it’s the only method for web app development cost estimation that ensures the creation of products that will be successful.

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What is Geolocation?

Have you ever wondered why Netflix thinks you live in a different state or why an app wants you to enable your location? It all has to do with geolocation data.

Your IP address does not show anyone your identity or address, but it can give others a general idea of where you are located. In some cases, your general location can be identified within a few miles of your actual address. Of course, it takes a trained computer wiz to figure out how to perform geolocation.

Geolocation software is responsible for this ability to locate someone. It first hones in on your country, then your region, city, and zip code. But how exactly does this complex software work? And what might cause it to not work? Let’s find out.

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The Product Management Process That Built Billion-Dollar Enterprises

A prototype, in application development, is simply a model, sample, or a preliminary version of the final product. It presents a preview of the application at the pre-development stage. Prototyping is essentially a way to involve users in the product development stage. But, everything good comes with a cost! So, the question of whether interactive prototypes are worth your time and budget can only be answered after understanding both the advantages and limitations of prototyping.

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Are Interactive Prototypes Worth the Time and Budget?

A prototype, in application development, is simply a model, sample, or a preliminary version of the final product. It presents a preview of the application at the pre-development stage. Prototyping is essentially a way to involve users in the product development stage. But, everything good comes with a cost! So, the question of whether interactive prototypes are worth your time and budget can only be answered after understanding both the advantages and limitations of prototyping.

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How to Effectively Prioritize Bug Fixes vs Product Features?

When it comes to prioritizing bug fixes vs. new features for your next application update, Product Managers are faced with incredibly difficult choices. Asking them to choose between a vital new feature or repairing an app-crashing bug is like asking them to pick a favorite child (impossible!). Thankfully, seasoned PMs and product teams relieve themselves from the truly challenging decisions by using one – or more – of these common product prioritization methods.

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Co-creator of Siri & Grammy-nominated composer pair up to create new AI-music platform

In 2017, Philip Sheppard & Tom Grueber came together with the goal of evolving the idea of what music and audio production could be. The idea originally came to Philip as he took one of his leisurely walks through the woods. Listening to headphones as he sauntered, Philip wondered if it would be possible for his smartphone to produce music that reflected his surroundings and feelings, rather than him choosing his own accompanying soundtrack.

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How to Source (and Retain) Clients Amid COVID-19

Landing new clients amid the coronavirus may not sound easy, but the truth is that now is an excellent time to grow your business. Clients can and do benefit from the services or products you offer right now. Here’s how to source clients and retain them despite the ever-changing economic situation.

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18 Powerful Competitor Research Tools to Crush Your Competition

Tools are only valuable if you put them to use. 2020 is an age of data and resources. You and I have immediate access to an endless supply of information. As you would imagine, there are a plethora of quality competitor research tools available. Some tout their ability to help you discover what tools your competitors are using. Others actually let you spy on the competition directly. Some of the capabilities included in the online competitor analysis tools below will quite literally knock your socks off. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Six Product Management Thought Leaders Worth Following

Are you a product person who wants to stay in the know? Have you ever wondered which Product Management blogs to read, or who to follow on Twitter? If so, read on — our team has put together some suggestions to help you grow your product knowledge!

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Best Practices For Product Research

Thorough product research incorporated into the entire development life cycle minimizes risk and maximizes ROI. The data provides valuable insights into customer needs and market opportunities. And when you understand what users actually want — not just what you think they want — you’re more likely to end up with satisfied (and repeat) customers.

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The 4 Minute Guide To Understanding A Lean-Agile Mindset

In the last few decades, “Agile” and “Lean” have become commonplace terms in the world of software development. Agile transformation, though by some deemed only a trend, has proven itself again and again. It’s undeniable, an Agile approach clearly aligns with the basic realities of a successful project.

The key to appreciating a Lean-Agile Mindset is first developing a thorough understanding of the history, prevalence, and characteristics of both Agile and Lean Thinking.

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Does The World Need Product Managers Anymore?

Are product managers necessary? It’s a topic of fierce debate. And the answer depends on who you ask. “PMs are obsolete,” one side argues. “They’re expensive and redundant. They increase the distance between customers and developers.”

“A project without a product manager is a rudderless ship,” the other side counters. “Without a designated product manager, there’s no focus or consistency. Communication breaks down between design, development, marketing, and internal and external stakeholders. Team members forced to wear multiple hats can’t fully develop their craft.”

We argue that the world needs product managers — even if certain projects don’t.

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A Step By Step Guide to Product-Market Validation

Most product ideas sound great when we’ve created them in our minds, but several fail the minute they reach a customer’s hands. Since joining the market with a new product is always a risk, real-life user testing is a critical pre-launch task. Product market validation is about minimizing risk and validating a product concept within its target market.

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5 Mistakes Product Managers Should Never Make

The skills and knowledge required to succeed as a PM are not easily learned. Being a product manager is hard and being a great product manager is even harder. We have a deep respect for PM’s that move product teams to success. How a PM faces challenges, from day to day tasks to high-level product strategy initiatives, makes a profound impact on the long term success or failure of a product.

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Choosing a Mobile App Development Company: 8 Realities No One Talks About

In 2019, worldwide mobile app revenues reached $461.7 billion. By 2023, they are projected to double. The mobile app world is vast and varied. With a little over 200 billion mobile app downloads in 2019 (expected to reach 300 billion downloads by 2023), no one anticipates the development of mobile applications to slow down soon. With so much competition, finding the right mobile app development agency to invest in, is critical to the initial launch and long term success of your mobile app. It is important that you choose a company that has the expertise, talent, and passion, to bring your app idea to the next level. Enjoy our 8 best tips for how to choose the best mobile app development company.

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Should I Hire In-House or Outsource? 13 Smart Questions to Ask

Choosing a high-quality software development team to build the latest mobile or web application your company needs can be stressful. You’ll encounter a myriad of opinions on the topic, many boast about the benefits of outsourcing, many argue that a dedicated team can only be found in house. Considering overall project requirements, budget, and required time to market are among the most important qualifications to evaluate before making a decision.

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11 Product Management and Business Books That Will Transform Your Career

These days, many of us are working from home. Many are experiencing reduced working hours and some are not working at all. However, our situation doesn’t define us, it’s how we handle it that does. This unique time in our lives presents an opportunity for education. We can spend our quarantine hours catching up on episodes of Silicon Valley, or learning and building our knowledge base to be better prepared for the future. We encourage you to choose the later, although a healthy balance of both couldn’t hurt. Our team melded minds and put together a reading list of top books to help you advance your career in product management and business.

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Should Product Managers Develop Technical or Soft Skills?

What makes a product manager successful? Emotional intelligence? Technical skills? The ability to successfully manage a cross-functional team? Organize a messy product backlog? We’ve set out to answer those questions. We invited two product development experts to offer their opinion on the highly debated topic: Is coding (and other technical skills) a vital part of a product manager’s skill set?

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SingleMind Ranked as a Top 50 Software Development Company in the U.S.

We are proud that our company has been recognized by Techreviewer.co as one of the leading PHP development companies, and one of the top software development companies in 2020 — it is an honor that fuels our fire and drives us to be more creative and innovative in all our projects. Continuous improvement is the mechanism that drives SingleMind’s top-notch work!

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Aiming to Build a Great Product? Stop Crafting a Useless Product Vision

When a project is unsuccessful, there could be many causes. However, lack of overall vision, and alignment among the team around that vision is a likely culprit. Every successful venture must grow around a strategic vision that the entire team is on board with. Here are 7 tactics we’ve used to ensure success and meet product goals on over 135 projects in the last 15 years.

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How to Sell a Product Vision to Narrow-Minded Leadership

If you’re a “PM”, you’re in the right place. This article is for those that find themselves drowning in the world of product development, where your vital work is often misunderstood or underappreciated. You know that when it comes to creating a product vision to build a product that meets business goals and ultimately, achieves product/market fit, you’ll experience pushback from senior management.

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Streamline Day-to-Day Processes: 5 Tech Solutions for Small Businesses

Being a small business owner, you undoubtedly know what it’s like to be feel overwhelmed with all the day-to-day tasks it takes to run a business. Even if you have enough employees and/or freelancers working for you, there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. So, why would you consider putting one more thing on your to-do list, such as learning and implementing new technology in your operations?

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The Highly Underrated Secret to Quality UI/UX Design

The design process can be messy and monotonous. To reduce the propensity for error and create scalability, designers build out a design system. Most practically defined as “a set of reasonable patterns and behaviors that define the product”, a design system is a simple, yet seemingly revolutionary way to produce quality design work, efficiently. It is often described as the “single source of truth” for the entire team involved in a product’s development.

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An Intro to Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)

Enterprise application integration is a vessel of ease and efficiency. In its simplest and most practical form, EAI is designed to improve the connectivity of applications within an enterprise. Though the term “EAI” wasn’t coined until the early 2000s, the greater concept is decades old: find a way to seamlessly join multiple business-critical systems that are themselves, distinct.

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How to Improve the Conversion Rate on Your Ecommerce Website

Every month, more than 197 million people around the world visit Amazon.com. In fact, 25% of the world’s population are considered “digital buyers”. That’s nearly 2 billion people looking for an easier shopping experience, one that beats out physical stores and makes the purchasing process seamless. The growth potential for online stores is immense. Given the statistics, you’d be surprised at how many eCommerce sites still have a long way to go in effectively implementing user experience design to create a high-quality eCommerce store that converts.

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The Biggest Mobile App Development Assumptions: Debunked

Interview with Richie Harris, SingleMind’s Chief Technical Officer. Watch (or read) as Richie breaks down the two biggest assumptions in mobile app development.

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SingleMind Named Among 2019 Top Mobile App Developers in Portland!

Throughout the years, we’ve excelled across various invaluable digital services, including mobile app development, UX/UI design, and software development. We understand the importance of delivering quality products to our clients. Our goal is to maximize their customer’s user experience and ROI. We’ve always measured our success by that of our clients and recently, our efforts have caught the eye of Clutch. The firm has featured us in their latest research on the top mobile app development companies in our home city of Portland!

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Why Is Test Automation Important?

Interview with QA Test Automation Engineer, Max Ellis. Watch (or read) as Max discusses what test automation is and how it can benefit software products built by Agile software development teams.

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Serverless Databases: A Home for Cloud App Persistence

In my previous article, I talked about serverless architecture and some of the benefits this platform has to offer for writing web apps. The scalability of serverless applications is hard to refuse, and so the temptation is to dive right in and start writing code on AWS Lambda functions or Azure Functions.

After diving in, however, you will quickly run into a problem: how are thousands or even millions of function instances going to talk to one MySQL database at the same time? If you are building a high-traffic application, this is going to quickly become a bottleneck. For example, the Azure Database for MySQL has an upper limit of 20,000 concurrent connections. Each Function or Lambda instance is going to have its own connection to the database, and so that’s just not a viable solution.

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SingleMind Earns a Spot on the Clutch 1000 List of Global B2B Leaders!

As an award-winning product design and development agency, we’re pretty confident in our technical capabilities. Our team at SingleMind has collaborated with a range of mid- to enterprise-level clients, crafting thoughtful digital solutions to transform businesses. But it’s one thing to be confident in your abilities and another to be recognized by an independent body.

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Why Agile Works

One of the most important aspects of Agile development methodology is engagement. Engagement of the team in the success of the project all the way from major milestones down to the details of individual features by involving them in the planning and decision making. Engagement of the stakeholders by giving them access to incremental builds and allowing for feedback and direction.

This places ownership of the success of a project as much on the stakeholders as on the development team. Giving the whole team visibility to stakeholder responses keeps them engaged in outcomes and grants everyone a sense of ownership for delivery.

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Top Mobile App Development Company on GoodFirms

SingleMind is a celebrated name in a world where digital experiences are begotten, and their continued endeavors have placed the firm comfortably amongst the top U.S. based mobile app development companies.

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3 Effective Tips to Improve Your Brand Design

What is a brand, when you really think about it? A few professional ex-colleagues I know often think of a brand as the visual assets that represent the company – such as the logo they use, or the color palette they identify with, or a brand/style guide. Strangely enough, both of them worked for the same creative agency. Their answer is wrong.

It’s true that these are components of a brand (a visual brand identity)… and for some companies, this might be the only effort they’re actively willing to dedicate to branding. But a logo does not begin to encapsulate what a brand is, let alone how important it is to a company’s success.

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The Benefits of Continuous Integration

Think about the 100+ decisions that each person has to make every day. Each person only has a limited amount of bandwidth to commit before needing to retire for the day. When it comes to software development, this prime bandwidth is precious. Automation through Continuous Integration (CI) can reduce the workload stress of both Agile development and deployment teams significantly and free up attention for important tasks that require human intervention. Be it code reviews, test cases, security checks, or deployment, automation through CI can help save time and reduce the odds of a system failure.

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How to Manage an Agile Development Team’s Project Budget

There are sometimes challenges around explaining what “Agile Development” means. The word “Agile” can lead people to think that it means sloppy or without planning. The biggest piece of practicing agile software development that belies that notion is sprint planning. Regular sprint planning meetings lend structure to an agile process. Sprint planning meetings give the product owner and the team a chance to break up work in a reliable way.

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5 Tips to Create Effective UX Wireframes

Wireframing, sometimes referred to as UI design or user experience design, is a critical part of the overall design process. App and website wireframes can range from being as simple as a hand-drawn sketch with pen and paper, to being a complex as a detailed blueprint.

Wireframes are usually the first tangible thing our clients (and developers) see which visually represent the product or idea. Most people I’ve worked with on projects historically tend to view wireframes as a design document, but I’ve always thought of them as a technical document. Why is this? Because even though the wireframes are a visual expression of the site, they tend to become the foundation for everything that follows.

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SingleMind Ranked as Top Performing B2B Company in California

At SingleMind, we pride ourselves on having a singular goal for our company; to provide our clients with our best work, every time. To achieve this goal, we have brought together a dedicated and diverse team. While this may seem contrary to our name, our team’s multidisciplinary approach to our client’s work actually allows us to gain new insights, while making sure we keep our singular mission in mind.

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5 Tips for Improving Your User Experience Design

The bulk of the world’s population spends quite a lot of time online each day. We use apps and websites. We watch videos and listen to podcasts. We read stories and news. Sometimes (more often than not) we use smartphones to get our fix. Other times, the Mac or PC at home.

There are tons of great apps, games, and websites out there that put a lot of effort into their user experience design – which can range from the definition of their brand or visual design of their website, to the way their app works, or even the specific experience someone has interacting something (submitting a support request, for example).

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A Guide to Customer Journey Maps: PART 1

Connecting with your customers effectively isn’t usually as simple as defining just one way for them to interact with your business – or getting someone to visit your website or download your app. An authentic experience is one where your customer interacts in harmony with your brand. And in an age where every device has a data connection, it’s more important than ever to create a lasting connection with customers – by recognizing them and speaking to them in a way that not only meaningful to them, but in a way that leaves a lasting meaningful impression of the interaction with your brand.

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Leveraging Your Target Audience to Define User Personas

You might think that building a business around a great product or service idea is enough to be successful. For some (the exceptions), that might even be true. In real life, building a successful business generally takes a lot of hard work. You’ll need to define and build the product. You’ll need to design and build a website (most likely). You’ll need content that convinces people your product is worth purchasing. And you’ll need to market the product. Anyone worth their salt can tell you: no matter how great your product is, if it isn’t marketed correctly, and to the right audience, it’s never going to live up to its potential. It may not even get off the ground.

Don’t worry, there’s good news. That’s exactly what user personas are for, and why their use is so widespread.

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Clutch Honors SingleMind as a Top Developer in Oregon

From one-page promotional sites to extensive web applications, businesses are becoming more and more reliant on their websites to facilitate quality functionality for their users as well as business marketing. With an astounding number of websites and applications published every day, it’s important to make sure your website and application stand out amongst the crowd.

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Server vs. Serverless: A Performance Test

If you follow trends in the software development world, you know that serverless architecture is becoming quite popular. Before diving into this new technology, however, it is wise to consider whether there will be anything gained by abandoning a traditional server. Is it worth using a serverless platform for your API gateway, or is it just a fad that will soon pass?

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Preparing for Product Launch

The easiest part of launching a product is building the product. It doesn’t matter if it is software, hardware, a brand of potato chips or a new snowboard, this is the fun stage. You have an idea, it is (obviously) brilliant, you are passionate about it, you know it is going to be successful. Turning your dream into a tangible product is fun, fulfilling, and the challenges are ones that are able to be overcome because you (by and large) have control of what you are building.

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The Importance of Sprint Planning

There are sometimes challenges around explaining what “Agile Development” means. The word “Agile” can lead people to think that it means sloppy or without planning. The biggest piece of practicing agile software development that belies that notion is sprint planning. Regular sprint planning meetings lend structure to an agile process. Sprint planning meetings give the product owner and the team a chance to break up work in a reliable way.

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What a Product Owner is Not

A Product Owner is not necessarily an expert in technical matters. They should be able to accept advice and solicit input from the technical lead on a project, but they should not be expected to have the technical expertise to do research or evaluate technologies on their own. A Product Owner is best able to contribute to a project when they can rely on a technical lead to speak to technical challenges and give them informed options and honest feedback.

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Habits of an Effective Product Owner

The key value that a product owner offers in an agile project is clarity of vision. The product owner knows exactly what the product needs to be in order to succeed in the market, and what the priorities are for that to happen. There are a few things that an effective product owner will do on a recurring basis to keep the team moving toward that vision. Those things are to organize the backlog by priority, communicate both high-level and detailed objectives, and be responsive to changes or technical challenges.

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How to Streamline Your Team’s Product Backlog

Every project fights along at least two axes, budget and timeline. Another axis that can lead to trouble in a project is resourcing. Risk in each of these factors can be mitigated by thoughtful backlog grooming and task management. A good start to backlog grooming is to develop a product roadmap. Start from the high-level business goals, and break those down into consumable tasks that can provide a granular view of the big picture. The initial backlog should consist of an outline of the ‘big ticket items’. A big ticket item can be either a technically challenging piece of the work, or even just a known unknown. Doing that work, and doing it well, takes time and the ability to look at both the forest and the trees, but it can play a vital role in the success of a project.

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Product Development Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Product development can often seem like a race. Whether a race to corner an emerging or untapped market or just a race to get something out before you lose sight of the goal. And, like any great endeavor, you should know what you’re getting yourself into before you set foot on the starting line. You should map out and plan your checkpoints in advance. If you want a product that endures, you’ll need to keep in mind that the release is just the first leg. If you start off at a sprint you could lose your way or run out of steam before you’re done.

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Native App Development Is Dead!

It’s easy to forget that the span of time that development of applications exclusively for mobile devices is just over ten years. Throughout this time we’ve witnessed the growth of the mobile app space and the considerable power that is brought to bear in our lives by this new and developing industry. Something that is not often well understood by the app consuming public is how much of a moving target the mobile app development space has been. When the iOS and Android stores opened back in 2008 there were disconnects between them wide enough to spawn entire competing industries. Those industries thrived due to the complexity of taking an app idea from concept to distribution was at least doubled due to the nature of the platforms and marketplaces being fundamentally opposed to homogenization.

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7 Things to Consider Before Architecting a Mobile Application

When looking to build a new mobile application, there are several important factors to consider which can inform the technologies that will contribute to the way your mobile app will work. Here are seven things to consider while weighing the pros and cons of the technologies that will be leveraged in your new mobile application…

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Delivering a Project on Time, but With Flexibility

If you’re part of the software development world, you’ve probably heard numerous tips on how to make your development process more efficient. Phrases like “identify project milestones” and “manage project risks” are commonplace in the articles you’ve read on the topic. However, not many pinpoint a specific tool in accomplishing it. So here I’d like to offer the solution that my UX design and development team, SingleMind, uses to create efficiency and transparent communication between our team and clients.

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SingleMind Ranked Among Portland’s Top Developers

So what makes an exceptional website or application? The software should not only function as intended, but should be responsive, intuitive, appealing, and reliable. Fortunately, many qualified developers are able to provide solutions that meet these basic criteria. Unfortunately, some qualified developers will provide cookie-cutter solutions that look just like your competitors.

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The 5 Red Flags of Hiring a Design & Development Firm

As a professional services company that deals with dozens of clients on a regular basis, we’re no strangers to the pitfalls that can sideline a project. Over the 12+ years we’ve been in business, we’ve worked to develop processes, best practices, and other habits to prevent as many of these issues from ever coming up. We wanted to share some of the bigger risks to customers who are scoping out the landscape when looking for a creative or development firm to work with.

We’ve identified what we feel are 5 of the biggest red flags when looking to hire a company to engage with. We hope it helps you find the right partner!

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SingleMind Named Top Portland Mobile App Developer

Clutch, a ratings and reviews firm based in Washington, DC recently recognized SingleMind as a leading mobile app developer in Portland. Clutch’s unique methodology takes into account dozens of factors, such as awards and accolades, market presence, portfolio of work, size of projects, and focus dedicated to specific services. The most important criterion, however, is client satisfaction, as measured by the verified client interviews that are conducted by Clutch analysts. Only companies that exceed in all of these areas are granted a spot on their “Leaders Matrix.”

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The Art of Software Development

Writing and debugging software can, at times, feel like walking a high-wire while reciting Shakespeare. There are so many moving parts and so much you have to maintain focus on at any given moment. This is where the analytical mind of a software engineer lives and thrives. We have to take measured, sure steps forward, ever mindful of the fall, while keeping our eyes on the destination, and reciting from memory the story we’re telling with code.

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A Signal From the Noise

As software developers we like to think that we have a strong grasp on language as well as logic. The confidence to believe we understand can just as easily be the hubris which makes us blind. People in general are ingenious pattern recognition engines. We connect dots, see connections, and see the whole of something even when parts are missing. Where this leads us astray is when we try to apply order to randomness instead of simply seeing what’s there in front of us.

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Azure Cloud Services: A NodeJS Web & Worker Role Example

In my last article, we looked from a high level at what it takes to build a scalable cloud-based app powered by Microsoft Azure. I talked about three major options for web apps: Azure Web Apps (also known as Azure websites), Azure Cloud Services, and Azure VMs. Today, we’ll dive in and create a simple app to see what’s involved in putting together and deploying an Azure Cloud Service.

Though Microsoft has written a helpful article for doing this, some critical details were left out. This guide is similar, but with extra instructions that hopefully will provide that “plug-and-play” experience you’re looking for, especially if you’re building a multi-role Cloud Service and bringing your own code. We’ll also look briefly at how you can run third party executables on your Cloud Service, which is the main reason for choosing a Cloud Service over a Web App. For additional information on managing and configuring cloud services, I recommend looking at Microsoft’s documentation (see sources at end).

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Building Highly Scalable Apps With Microsoft Azure

We’ve all heard the phrase “highly-scalable” when it comes to web apps. More and more apps are running in the cloud, and as a result scalability is becoming a crucial part of delivering a great experience to your customers, no matter how many there are.

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How jQuery Saved Me From Twitter Changes

Twitter has become a major traffic circle on the social media thoroughfare. As any organization or social media savvy individual will tell you, if you want to be known and get heard, you should be on Twitter. That level of visibility means that when anything changes, even if it’s small, people will be sure to notice. So, when Twitter decided to release an update to the style of the ubiquitous Twitter timeline widget, a lot of people took notice, and not all in a positive way.

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White Box vs. Black Box: A Basic Overview of Software Testing

Software testing is a necessary component of the development process. Simply put, testing ensures that software does what it is supposed to do, free of errors or bugs that detract from user experience. Without detailed testing and quality assurance processes, software released onto the market might function poorly or prove harmful, frustrating customers while damaging the producer’s reputation.

While software testing can be time intensive, it is a worthwhile investment. When incorporated into projects from the beginning, well-designed testing procedures save time by ensuring that bugs are discovered early, making extensive, last minute code repair less likely.

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Defensive Development for an Agile World

Defensive development is both a philosophy and a collection of techniques that can be used to allow a project to reach the finish line, even if you encounter a few unexpected turns in the road. Defensive development is about checking assumptions and knowing that the only constant is change. It’s about making sure the code written today earns us points on the scoreboard even when the goalposts move.

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Understanding Flat Design: Recycled Trend or Innovation?

Flat design is a minimalistic design philosophy, focusing on: color palette, typography, and minimal effects. Simplistic, or flat design, is not realism; abandoning shadows, gradients, textures and bevels. This “less is more” attitude parallels earlier trends, trends that adopted realistic visual elements. Deemed the “skeuomorphic era,” design once treasured an interface modeling picture-perfect representations of physical objects: skeuomorphism. However, the “flat revolution” has altered the three-dimensional aesthetic previously utilized by applications.

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UX: What Can Psychology Do for You?

Design is not synonymous with UX. UX, user experience, means generating elegant interfaces that promote a user-friendly experience. Design, however, incorporates function and visual appearance. Integrating the two requires an understanding of the mind and behavior; psychology.

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Why Does UX Matter?

User experience, UX, means generating elegant interfaces that promote a user-friendly experience. What makes an interface, well, elegant? Simplicity: Consistent, balanced design with a clear directive will guide user exploration. Tasks should be completed efficiently with minimal user activity. Responsivity: Generate optimal viewing experiences. Layouts should be adaptable, that is, responsive to their environment. Relatability: Understand your demographic, and encourage feedback. Without consideration of your audiences’ needs, design flops. Inevitability: We make mistakes! Testing your product, and allotting for user error will prevent future frustration. UX is necessary for producing pleasant interactions with your interface, but why?

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UX: Identifying Your Target Audience

User experience, UX, means generating elegant interfaces that promote a user-friendly experience. UX aims to satisfy targeted demographics, demographics critical for strategizing your design process. Alright. But, what is my targeted demographic? Good question! Consider addressing these questions to evaluate an audience…

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Use Sinatra, Haml, & Postgres to Quickly Build an App & Deploy It to Heroku PART 2

Here’s part two of an overview guide to using Sinatra, Haml, and Postgres to quickly build a simple inquiry form web app & deploy it to Heroku.

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How to Use MySQL Views As Entities for Drupal View

The Views module has been a cornerstone of Drupal ever since it was introduced in 2006. In honor of its being rolled into the core application in Drupal 8, we’d like to share some tricks we’ve been using to make views even more flexible and powerful.

Since a large part of our focus is on integrations, and we like to use Drupal as a front-end, we’ve learned to love Entity API and Views. In this post we’re going to show you how easy it is to create a Mysql view, define an Entity for it using Entity API, and use that Entity in a View.

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The Many Faces of Agile

Agile development means many things to many people. To some it means SCRUM, to others, XP, to yet another group it could mean a mash-up of both or even just a home-spun collection of general practices and methodologies. To many people Agile is often simply a buzzword, one upon which meaning is ladled liberally from second-hand conversations or short, pithy, phrases.

To a developer, such as myself, Agile methodologies are both a blessing and a curse. The issue is that while the process may be agile, the written lines of code can be far less flexible.

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The Benefits of Using Drupal Commerce

Prior to Drupal 7, developers had generally relied on Ubercart to provide eCommerce functionality for the websites they built, be it for their own company or a client’s. Other options did exist, but none were truly able to compete with Ubercart as a full-fledged shopping cart solution, primarily due to the level of (community) developer support that escalated its growth and propagation.

Unfortunately, Ubercart is built in a way that does not always encourage modification of its core behaviors. Anything is possible, certainly, but the cost-to-value relationship of fundamentally altering Ubercart’s workflows or approach to customer and order management does not always make good financial sense for the investor.

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Use Sinatra, Haml, and Postgres to Quickly Build an App & Deploy It to Heroku

Here’s the first part of an overview guide to using Sinatra, Haml, and Postgres to quickly build a simple inquiry form web app & deploy it to Heroku.

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Redmine Plugin That Syncs Harvest Time Entries!

At SingleMind, we’re integration geeks. Our geek nerves tingle over custom systems integration projects, Yahoo Pipes, Zapier, If This Then That and so many others. We use Redmine as our issue management system and Harvest for time tracking and billing. We found ourselves wanting to use the time tools inside of Redmine, but were unable to efficiently manage the overhead of keeping two systems’ time in sync. We tried out a couple Redmine plugins that could leverage the Harvest API. However, we quickly found that the plugins we tried used admin-only features of the Harvest API, so our employee users could not make requests to the Harvest API and thus not use the plugin with any efficiency. Unable to find any suitable Redmine plugin, and also being Ruby on Rails geeks, we set out to develop our own Redmine plugin.

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Using Vagrant to Bootstrap a VirtualBox Virtual Machine With Puppet & RVM

Download and install the necessary tools.

Download & install Vagrant (currently using Vagrant v1.1.4).

Download & install VirtualBox.

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Non-Repudiation: How Guaranteed Message Delivery Prevents Costlier Issues Down the Line

Do you know how often your message delivery fails? Do you get an error when it does? If not, you could be putting your systems at risk. One of the key, often-overlooked issues in systems integration is how messages between systems are passed. Even more important is whether or not deliveries are guaranteed. More often than not, we have discovered that they aren’t. When a message fails to get passed between System A and System B, whether it’s not received or left unsent, there needs to be a robust framework in place to track the event and assess both the specific problem as well as the root cause. This isn’t just a technical issue. Inaction can result in costly support problems down the line. Aside from the practical needs of keeping an integration running, there can be security breaches or even legal concerns that are just as problematic.

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Setting Up Your Mobile App Analytics Strategy

As we’ve noted before, it’s critical to keep your mobile app’s lifecycle in mind. The work doesn’t stop post-launch. If you’re serious about gaining traction in the saturated app marketplace, you should be optimizing user acquisition and experience continually. The most useful tool in any developer’s pocket for doing that is analytics, hands-down. That’s no secret and a number of companies have sprung up to address this need, including Flurry, Localytics, and even Google. Getting analytics implemented is a fairly straightforward technical task. Knowing what to measure and how to use that information are much more difficult. If you want to get the most out of mobile app analytics, you need to have a solid measurement strategy in place.

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Using Random Data in Linux Performance Testing

A mystery. Let’s say I test network speed by copying two files using scp to a remote server.

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What Makes a Custom Software Development Project Successful?

Software has grown into a quarter-trillion dollar industry in the U.S. Yet even with all the money we pour into software, there’s a lot to be desired.

Custom software development can fill that gap – but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Back in 1995 (ancient, I know, but still relevant), the Standish Group found some discouraging statistics. 31% of software projects get canceled before completion. More than half end up costing 89% more than their original estimates.

I have to assume that those figures have gotten better over time. Development tools and processes have advanced while technical expertise has grown and become widespread.

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5 Mobile App Marketing Tools to Leverage Now

The explosive growth of mobile app usage signals massive opportunity to be had in the space, but now developers face their biggest challenge yet: app discoverability.

Not only do developers have to contend with a rapidly evolving industry; they’re also facing more competition than ever.

At one point, the mobile app marketplace was small enough that “if you build it, they will come” still held true. Now, in its current hyper-saturated state, there are no guarantees.

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System Integration Best Practices: How to Get Systems to Play Nice With Each Other – & With You!

Successful system integrations are like diplomacy: you need to establish certain things from the start. Like who gets the launch codes? How do we deal with spies? What are we going to do about that militarized cult of personality?

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How NOT to Make a Mobile App: 13 Mobile App Development Pitfalls

Every app has a lifecycle. In today’s saturated marketplace, maintaining a high level of quality control through each and every phase is critical to an app’s success. From design to development to marketing and maintenance, there are so many variables that it’s easy to lose sight of the many moving parts that make up the long game. If you don’t want your app to wind up a warning post along the way, be careful to avoid these 13 common pitfalls.

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UX Design Best Practices: An Iterative Approach

UX design – or user experience design – is aimed at aligning business goals and user goals as closely as possible in mobile apps, websites and pretty much any product. Good UX design can yield incredible improvements in buyer behavior, lead generation, and visitor engagement. UX design works best when it’s an iterative process. With each iteration, a UX designer can identify new opportunities, respond to changes in business goals and user needs, and adapt to current market trends and advances in technology. Fortunately, developing a repeatable UX design process is not rocket science.

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4 Proven Mobile App Monetization Strategies

Competition in the app marketplace is fierce, to say the least. Everyone and their mothers are jumping aboard the mobile app gravy train in hopes of an express ride to the fabled Money Mountain (which was coincidentally built on Minecraft – Pocket Edition). That excitement may be warranted. Mobile app usage has overtaken desktop web browsing and is starting to challenge TV. Consumers now spend over 2 hours in mobile apps each day. That’s up 35% from last year and rapidly approaching the 168 minutes of television the average U.S. consumer watches per day. It’s not so easy, though, to figure out a mobile app monetization strategy.

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Top 4 Enterprise Application Integration Benefits

Large companies have always relied – well, for the past few decades, anyway – on software applications to provide critical business services. Everything from customer relationships to business intelligence to supply chains is managed with complex software.

Big CRM, SCM and other acronym-monikered software programs bring terrific benefits. They streamline most business processes, enable more robust data collection and analysis, and help people communicate better with colleagues, customers and suppliers.

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Custom Systems Integration: How to Overcome the 5 Key Challenges to Successful Systems Integration

Custom systems integration can deliver major benefits for an organization. At the same time, it’s more often than not a very involved undertaking. A few years ago, it was understood that as many as 70 percent of enterprise application integration projects fail, as reported at an EAI Industry Consortium workshop in 2003.

Huge advances have been made in cross-application compatibility since that time. The evolution of application programming interfaces (APIs), for example, has doubtless improved the success of custom systems integration projects.

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Mobile Site vs. Responsive Design: Head-to-Head Comparison of Cost, UX & SEO

Mobile devices are rapidly becoming the default point of entry for Internet users. For online businesses, the old “adapt or die” adage rings more true every day. The need for mobile-optimized experiences is clear, but there are multiple approaches to consider.

The mobile app vs. mobile site debate has recently expanded to include responsive design. Responsive web design adapts the site layout to the viewing environment. Page elements get resized, repositioned, or hidden as browser resolution changes.

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Drupal-Moodle Integration Provides Seamless eCommerce & Education Functionality

When we were approached by Kaiser Permanente to create a site that could seamlessly sell and deliver healthcare education, we immediately turned to Drupal and Moodle.

Drupal provides a versatile front end that supports eCommerce functionality. Moodle offers peerless management capabilities for creating and delivering course content on the back end.

Both are open source, highly flexible, and supported by active communities that regularly contribute to their development.

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Benefits of Blackboard to Moodle Migration

The Learning Management System (LMS) marketplace has evolved rapidly over the past decade. Open source alternatives to Blackboard – Moodle in particular – have not only proved viable, but are now outperforming the leading paid LMS.

Independent research has demonstrated that cost of ownership, platform flexibility, ease of use, and student and faculty satisfaction are all areas where Moodle has clearly surpassed Blackboard.

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Mobile App vs. Mobile Website: Choosing Your Mobile Presence

In the fast-paced lives of consumers today, everyone is looking for the advantage that a viable presence on mobile devices offers. With projections of mobile web use matching or even exceeding desktop web use in the next few years, mobile applications already exceeding both, and the ever-expanding mobile device market, it’s past time to jump on this bandwagon. The question is no longer whether on not to invest in a mobile presence, the only question now is what that presence should look like, and how can you invest in it wisely.

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An Easy Way to Find Drupal Modules

On most of our projects, at one point or another, someone says “I think there’s a module for that”, and then they rush off and start searching online. Most of the time, the module DOES exist, and most of the time, it’s really easy to find. It’s all in the wrist…

Since Drupal.org’s new theme was released, the search and filtering capability has improved tenfold. If you’re like us, however, you use Google for just about everything. This is just a quick little guide on some of the tricks we learned early on that made searching for Drupal themes and modules much faster.

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Configuring Varnish to Cache per User Agent in Pressflow

If you’re familiar with Varnish, you’re well aware of its awesomeness. It can turn your site from a slowpoke into a speed demon. We recently observed a site (which we didn’t build) that was, under load, taking about 800ms to respond per request. In went Varnish, and the response time for 99% of the requests dropped to just over 2ms. Kind of a “Holy crap!” moment.

Sometimes though, you might run into some issues when trying to configure Varnish. One of these instances is when you need it to provide different caches in different circumstances. For this tutorial, we’ll be focusing on configuring Varnish to provide a cache per group of devices, defined by user agent. Why is this important? Well, what if you want a different theme for each of these scenarios? Without adding some mechanism to handle this, Varnish will just cache the first thing it sees and serve it out to all of the devices.

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Fixing Permissions on the Files Directory in Drupal

Unless you’re familiar with the Linux command-line, setting up file permissions can be tedious and difficult. Add a migration into the mix and it becomes very easy to have a Files directory that isn’t writable by the web-server. This tutorial is meant to make this process a bit easier and leave you with a files directory that is not only writable by the web-server but includes a “sticky” permission to ensure that all files created inside of it inherit the proper read/write access permissions.

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Replacing Usernames with Real Names in Drupal

Replacing usernames with real names sounds like it should be easy, and it is. It hasn’t always been this way, though. Once upon a time, you’d need to create a theme override in the theme’s template.php, which is understandably scary to non-developers. We’ve put together this quick tutorial to help guide you through the simple process of getting this working on your Drupal environment.

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Create a Page Template for Anything You Want in Drupal

Out of the box, Drupal provides the ability to create page templates for different pages/sections. However, its flexibility is relatively limited, in our opinion. This page on drupal.org shows the following page.tpl.php naming conventions and uses:

1. page.tpl.php (global)
2. page-front.tpl.php (front page)
3. page-node-edit.tpl.php (node edit)
4. page-node-[#].tpl.php (specific node)
5. page-node.tpl.php (nodes – global)
6. page-[internal/path].tpl.php (specific path)

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Adding a Region to the Node Template

Typically, regions are returned in a theme’s page.tpl.php file. This works for almost everything, but as we found recently, there are situations where a region might need to be made available to the node.tpl.phpfile for the purpose of more specifically control a block’s location within a node. A good example of this is a node that has comments enabled. The node content and its comments will appear one after the other, both being returned by the value $content in the page.tpl.php. How to add a block between them?

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Using your Gmail/Google Account as an OpenID sign-in

You know that all Google/Gmail accounts are also OpenID identities, right? Well, assuming so, have you ever wondered how you can use your Google/Gmail account as an OpenID sign-in to a website? Here is one way of doing such…

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Setting up Pressflow and Varnish to work with HTTP and HTTPS

Using Varnish and Pressflow together is an effective way to maximize the potential of your hosting environment, and can yield extraordinary results. The problem is, if you’re not intimately familiar with Varnish, or the Linux command-line, getting it into a functional state can be something of a challenge. Out of the box, it is adequate at caching content for anonymous users, but that’s where the fun ends.

On a recently completed (large) Pressflow project, we had to make some decisions about server architecture. Varnish, under heavy load, can suck down memory pretty quickly, so we opted to use two servers. The first one housed Varnish and Memcache, while the second one acted as the application environment (LAMP with APC).

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