WebOnyx Company Blog


PseudoBlue Reviews Our Sexy Simone Android App

June 15th, 2010

Just in from our friends over at PseudoBlue, a review of our new Android App “Sexy Simone”.

A few good excerpts:

“This is exactly what I did. I downloaded the Android app Sexy Simone just before visiting my…shall we say… “second office”, and played for about 10 minutes. During this time Sexy Simone gave me a few laughs, challenged the gamer in me, and left me feeling satisfied.”

“Yes. I know. I am a geek, but at least we were playing with the lovely and talented Simone.. Nicely done webOnyx – look forward to seeing more, quite literally, of Sexy Simone.”

See the full review and all the other latest Android news from PseudoBlue at http://blog.pseudoblue.com/2010/06/15/sexy-simone/

Development is an art

March 18th, 2010

When creating custom web applications there are many parts to the process. In the entire history of software development there are books and books and books on how to do it, how to document it, how to make sure everything is proceeding satisfactorily, how to create forms, figures, and milestones.

But in the end it is all about people and the following three things.

  1. Similar understanding of product goals and functionality
  2. Effective communication
  3. Competence

Lets take a look at each thing.

Similar understanding of product goals and function

In the beginning there is an idea! Or at least a current product that is not working to the best of it’s ability. The idea is the reason that webOnyx is in business. Someone has had an idea and they don’t know how to implement the solution so they must find a partner and explain what their vision and goals are. This means having conversations, writing specs, having more conversations and then writing more specs and then agreeing on a path forward.

Software is an evolving product. At the beginning of the project the two parties need to be as clear as possible when it comes to expectations of an end product. Make a list; nothing fancy and do the best you can to present a timeline and estimated costs for the major features. Many times in this initial stage development firms will ask for a 10 day clause, or a discovery clause to either look into the current product to be retrofitted, or ponder other solutions. As a possible client for web development – Do This. Or better yet insist on this if you are looking to build a web application.

If a product already exists development teams need this period to ‘poke’ around the current product or designs. This allows the development firm a chance to refine their initial ideas and tighten up the timeline. It also where the art of development first starts show. Developers are always seeking efficient solutions and better end products. Allowing developers to ponder an idea for a week or two will result in surprising creativity.

As a client you should want your development team to have a few days to refine their initial ideas because if you have a competent partner they will help you find solutions that will save you time and money. While development is an art, it is also a process surrounded by unknowns. The job of developer many times is analougous to having to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar. You could probably get close, but give a developer a day to measure the jar and get the dimensions of a single jellybean and their initial estimates will be much better. The result of having better initial estimates walks us right into the second important part of development. Effective communication.

IT and Development of New Products

January 26th, 2010

There is a great article over at Info World written by Bob Lewis that basically is trying to overturn the conventional wisdom of how to run an IT department, especially in larger companies. In a nut shell running the IT department “as a business, selling to its internal customers, its principal product is software that meets requirements” can become a train wreck. Running the IT department as a business causes the department to react instead of innovating, play catch up instead of leading the charge for new processes, and overall creates a system where IT and the business will be at logger heads, to the detriment of all.

“IT’s job is to recommend better ways to operate, using technical capabilities business managers might not even know are possible.”

Why are internal IT projects always behind the times? Because these projects are usually spearheaded by non IT individuals who do not live in the realm of the ever changing landscape of information technology. Instead IT should be integrated with the business and work every day to say how can we make this company run better!

“The job isn’t done when the software satisfies requirements. It’s done when the business runs differently and better”

So often IT projects are created to fit into already existing job processes, when in reality a new process should be created by the technology that works better for the company and it’s employees.

Anyways a great read for anyone who runs an internal IT department.

Social Knowledge Management

January 15th, 2010

One of our proudest accomplishments here at WebOnyx is the creation of SIX. What we bill as a social knowledge management system that helps organize people and content by interest and need. This is a quick video of what SIX does and what the philosophical underpinnings are in it’s development.

Choosing a Web Application Development Company Part 2

January 13th, 2010

A quick google search returns approximately 100,000 results for “web application development”, not even counting the adwords on the side. In the Seattle area alone there is a dizzying array of companies who offer their development services. There are some who promise you everything under the sun, and others who you are not sure exactly what it is that they do. Some specialize in ASP.NET development while others are more focused on PHP and mysql implementations.

So how does one evaluate a web application development company?

Simple. You have to ask, see what they have done in the past, and make sure their proposal meets the key ideals of what you want to accomplish.

Web application development is a difficult process so you must find a company that understands you and your idea. Software development is a complex process with many variables and unknowns that will crop up during development. The Internet is ripe with stories of great ideas for a software program that have gone uncompleted because of the complexity that can invade an idea. Even the best laid plans can be sidetracked by feature creep, bad developers and unfocused energy.

When evaluating a web application development company you must find out what their process is. What is it that keeps them from going off target and over budget? Does the company have good communication skills? Do they have a process in place to keep you informed of the progress being made? Do they do research and provide you with an explanation for exactly how they think the end user is going to use the product? And do they help you flesh out your idea with the knowledge that they have attained through past projects?

Having gone through many bid processes with our clients over the years it is always interesting to see what other companies present in their project plan. Quoted prices are usually all over the place and promises can be sky high. But in our experience projects are best presented in three phases.

  1. Creation of a prototype with, minimal features, but what are usually the most important features
  2. Fleshing out of the prototype with ideas that that did not make the first round of cuts, but add significant value to the product
  3. Final product features are implemented and some kind of support contract is agreed upon

The reason that you should look for proposals, and companies that work this way is because it helps avoid project failure, and it minimizes costs. If after a short period you believe that the company you hired is not worth working with it is easier to walk away from projects that are created with through this process then with a company who builds everything at once. With each step you get to see what is being created, and if the company can present functionality of a product in a fast and efficient manner.

Choosing the right company is essential for the success of your product, or idea. So choose wisely, or of course you could always just choose WebOnyx (:-

Developing Custom Web Applications Part 1

January 11th, 2010

Here at WebOnyx we tend to focus exclusively on innovative custom web applications that provide a competitive advantage to a company. Whether it is a knowledge management system for a fortune 100 company (whatissix), or a entrepreneurial consumer facing web application that takes messaging and instant notification of local events to a whole new level (knowberry). While we are not above taking a Joomla job, or making the occasional brochure site for customers, our projects usually take a month or two of development (or longer), and require some serious thought into how the user is going to interact with the product. The next couple of posts here at WebOnyx are going to focus on what it takes to create a successful web application and what the process should look like from start to finish for those who are interested in working with outside companies to create custom web applications.

There are 4 stages to a successful web application

  1. Development of the idea, and choosing who is going to develop the product
  2. Creation of the web application
  3. Implementation of product and successful adoption by users
  4. Ongoing support

While there are many sub categories in this list, but it works well as a general overview of the development process.

Development of the idea

For most companies and individuals that are looking to create a custom web application they know what they want to accomplish, but they do not know exactly how to bring their ideas to life. Most people do not say “I want to create a knowledge management system”. They say “communication between departments and certain teams is really bad, we need to make it better”.

The genesis for a web application idea usually comes from two sources

  1. It will solve a specific pain point inside of a company
  2. There is a need for your companies consumers to control and access data in a certain way

The reason that development of the idea and choosing who is going to develop the web application goes hand in hand is because the vast majority of the time the project owner (the person with the idea) is not a technical geek who knows the ins and outs of software development. So he, or she, must look to others to develop their idea into something that accomplishes the goals set out in their vision. Most people have two choices. Find someone inside of the company who can create the product, or find a company who specializes in creating web applications. There are pros and cons to both, but as WebOnyx is a company who specializes in creating web applications these articles will focus on how to choose an outside company to bring and idea to life.

But first before we do that there are a few things about an idea that needs to be expanded upon before we look at how to choose a development company.

Be as clear as you can on what you are trying to accomplish. Write down what the pain points are that you are trying to solve. Give specific example of where the current system fails and what you hope a new system will be able to do. Don’t over think it though. Don’t worry about the details, just get down on paper the general idea of what you want to do. Ask the end users what they like about the current system, what do they really dislike? Lastly what are your metrics for success? What are the statistics that you can look at that will represent a successful project completion. For some companies it will be the click through ratio, for others its user adoption, and for some it is time spent on the site. If you do not know exactly what your metric for success will be that is alright, because a good web development company should be able to help you figure that out.

Which leads us to the next post “choosing a web application development company”

Making benefits distribution easier

November 30th, 2009

“Clarion care helps organizations lower health care costs by making administration and distribution of consumer directed health benefits simple. “

It is amazing what one sentence can do to guide a vision. It is true that we are having a health insurance\health care crisis in this country. Premiums are going up 10% a year, it is the fastest growing line item in the vast majority of businesses budgets, and there is this intense feeling that we are all getting less while still having to pay for more; this angst is where the dream of Clarion Care came from. While WebOnyx is a software and application development team we felt that there was a market opportunity in making it easier for corporations to educate their employees and offer them consumer directed health care plans such as a health savings account coupled with a high deductible health plan.

Making Consumer Directed Health Plans Easier

Making Consumer Directed Health Plans Easier

It really is amazing the savings that can be had with a health savings account, by our calculations a company with 150 employees who pays $9,000 a year per employee could save over a half a million dollars by just giving $5,000 a year tax free to their employees and letting them find their own high deductible health insurance. The $5,000 can be used to cover the deductible so the employee has their deductible covered, and the insurance it’self is not that much more then the employee portion that they currently pay for employer sponsored health care.

Soon companies will no longer be trying to offer more and more expensive insurance, they will attract new talent by stating how much money they are willing to put in to a health savings account for new hires. And Clarion Care will be here to help educate employees and make the administration and sign up of those accounts simple and easy. How? Because we make great software that is easy to use and that the end user finds valuable.

Seattle Software Company

November 24th, 2009

WebOnyx is proud to be a Seattle software company. Seattle has some of the best entrepreneurs and idea people in all the world living under our cloudy skies. According to a 2007 report from the Milken Institute Seattle is the second best place to be a high-tech company. Having been in business for a while WebOnyx can second that opinion as we have had the pleasure to work with some of Seattle’s best and brightest individual and corporate entrepreneurs on their high tech web-based software ventures. Companies like knowberry and produxs who are always on the cutting edge of great ideas. Corporate clients like AT&T who are leveraging social knowledge management tools to create a better way of communicating and storing information. These are just a taste of what Seattle has to offer, and being a proud Seattle software company we cannot wait to find more people with great ideas.

The great thing about WebOnyx, if I may toot our own horn for a moment, is in the way we help these visionary customers. To be a successful software company in Seattle you not only need to understand your client and be able to translate their dreams and vision into code, but you need to partner with them, really understand what their end goal is for the custom web application so that you can suggest different, or better ways to accomplish their goals. Being a partner means that you are not just writing code and kicking it back to the client, but you are looking at the desired goal and asking the appropriate questions to make sure that the client is going to receive maximum value in their investment. Because there are so many great high tech thinkers in Seattle a software company like WebOnyx needs to offer more then just being a code junkie, they need experience in how users interact with a program, what has worked in the past, and even how to market their software if needed- all things that we do, and do well.

Maybe it is all the rain that keeps us in doors more then we should be, maybe it is the inspiration from our beautiful surroundings, maybe it is just in our northwest DNA, but with out a doubt Seattle is one of the hot beds for great technological ideas in the United States, and that is why WebOnyx is proud to Seattle Software Company

The New Guy

November 11th, 2009

Hi my name is Damian Gibbs. I am the new ‘Intern’ here at WebOnyx and have been tasked with, well, doing things that others do not have time to do. One of those things is to use this blog to share what we do here at WebOnyx. To give updates on what kind of new products and services we are providing; as well as the occasional insight on how it is to work for a custom web application company in Seattle Wa.

I am still getting up to speed on all of the things that are going on in the office, but I do know that welcoming a new member into a team of people is not always the easiest thing to do. So I must say that as the newest member in the office that the crew here at W/O has done a fantastic job of bringing me on board, and showing me their ropes. I will admit that it was a little easier to be brought on board and up to speed because I have known two of the other team members for quite a few years, but even if I had not known them there are a few things that all companies can do to increase the comfort of bringing new people on board any team or company.

  1. Set up a workstation and an area for them to work in before they get there. ie: Pens, paper, printer connections, logins etc…
  2. Even if you don’t know exactly what the new employee is going to do make sure that you have a couple days worth of ‘easier’ tasks for them so that they have a reason to explore the systems that you have set up.
  3. Walk them around and introduce them to everyone.
  4. Illicit feedback after the first week. Encourage their thoughts on the way that you do things, they may have questions on process, or even come up with a way of doing something better.
  5. Make sure that they know who to contact when they have problems
  6. Take them out for a beer at the end of the week (ya hear that boss! ha!)

Anyways I am excited to be part of WebOnyx and spreading the word on what we do and how we do it.

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