Previously Justin worked in the telecom industry, developing software for ISPs that provided provisioning and diagnostic systems that serve over a million subscribers. At OpenRoad, Justin is jumping aboard our Pokémon and EA projects, as well as lending his expertise to new development projects.
Justin has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of the Fraser Valley. When not in front of a computer you can find Justin in the gym or on the football field.
As Project Coordinator, Geri is responsible for maintaining the balance of scope, requirements and budget with our clients and our internal teams. Geri is also involved in ensuring that internal processes are performed as efficiently as possible, and that the right people are on the right projects at the right time. With a Bachelor of Science in Interaction Design from Simon Fraser University, Geri brings a great mix experience and usability design knowledge to her role as project coordinator.
Geri believes the most exciting part about being a project lead is having the ability to work with and motivate a project team towards the common goal of bringing the client’s visions to life. Born in Malaysia, Geri found a way to bring the tropics with her through a passion for tropical plants and gardening.
As a User Experience Designer, Dave is responsible for creating user experiences that intuitive and easy to use. With a deep background in front-end application development including SharePoint and Sitefinity solutions, he has experience in all stages of development including design, implementation, and testing.
He has also gained experience developing intranets for many large enterprise clients on the SharePoint platform including VanCity, Goldcorp, BCHydro. He was also involved in an IA capacity to design the intranet for the City of White Rock (also on SharePoint).
Before joining OpenRoad, Dave worked in the remote sensing industry in Calgary focusing on user interface design, developing data processing applications, and creating visualization software before falling in love with the web and moving to Vancouver. Since then, he has gained extensive experience in front end web development and information architecture including usability testing and interaction design before putting all of his energy into his true passion, User Experience.
Dave has a degree in computer engineering from the University of Alberta and is certified as a Professional Engineer with APEGBC.
When not working, you’ll find Dave riding his snowboard, ripping up trails on his mountain bike, rocking out at live music concerts, cheering on Edmonton Oilers hockey, or learning to shred on his guitar.
We’re excited to announce that OpenRoad, in partnership with our client Transportation Investment Corporation (TI Corp.), have been selected as finalists for the British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) Technology Impact Awards for our design and development of the TReO website. In their 20th year, the BCTIA awards recognize companies and people who foster innovation and growth in the BC technology sector. Each year, the BC tech community celebrates the achievements of nine winners across the categories of technology innovation, company achievement, and personal recognition.
Our nomination is in the Adoption of Technology category, for demonstrating innovation in the tolling website design of TReO.ca. The Port Mann / Highway 1 Project is the largest transportation infrastructure project in British Columbia’s history. With technology having all but eliminated the toll booth and in-person payment, the website is the only touch-point most toll customers ever have with the toll operator. The tolling website is the toll booth, invoice, call centre, and payment centre all in one. Examining past tolling website projects, we found that trying to pay a toll online could be very frustrating, resulting in public dissatisfaction, low registration rates and a high volume of calls into customer care. There was clear opportunity to rethink the experience of paying a toll online. This is a great example of how the public sector can innovate by providing a compelling and highly usable service experience, while at the same time meeting the goals of reducing channel costs and managing large amounts of transactions.
Creating a brand new digital space for a global initiative project
Think Tank Initiative (TTI) is a part of the Social and Economic Policy Program of International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa. TTI is a multi-donor program dedicated to strengthening capacity of independent policy research organizations in three global areas – sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South America. Currently, the program is funded by five donors, including the Hewlett Foundation, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding goes to 49 think tanks in 23 countries.
In June 2012, OpenRoad successfully developed a site for their global conference event, the Think Tank Initiative Exchange, held in Cape Town. The success of the event site prompted TTI to develop their own digital space – ThinkTankInitiative.org.
Devising a Strategy
We kicked off the project with a two-day onsite strategy workshop. The goal for these workshops was to collaboratively discover the goals of the program and align these goals with its digital presence and communications. We were fortunate to have the great participation with the TTI and IDRC team involved in the two-day exercise. As usual, our workshops are intense, involved a lot of stickies, and generate a lot of material in a very short period of time.
Very often, clients come to us with a predefined solution or a tool or technology implementation request. We like to step back and ask the client – what is the problem that you are trying to solve? This is particularly important when a client is relatively new in the digital space. They are usually familiar with setting goals and measuring performance in the offline world, but need help translating these objectives into the online realm. (more…)
Taking a User-Centred & Data-Driven Approach to Site Redesign: The District of West Vancouver Website
Site redesign projects must be grounded with a solid understanding of the site’s users. This begins with deriving insights from current data and then working with users to create and test a new information architecture.
On February 4, OpenRoad presented a report to the District of West Vancouver Council on the redesign of westvancouver.ca. Selma Zafar and I accompanied the District’s Acting Communications Director, Jeff MacDonald, in updating council members on the user-centred, data-driven approach to the project.
Jill is a recent graduate of the Marketing Management program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). During her time at BCIT, Jill had the honor of traveling to New Orleans and participating in the American Marketing Association Collegiate Case Competition, where the BCIT team was awarded first place. Most recently, Jill completed her practicum studies at a digital marketing agency, gaining SEM and social media experience for a wide variety of clients including HSBC, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Topshop, and Marriott.
Jill works on content marketing, SEM, website optimization, and social media for both ThoughtFarmer and OpenRoad. She is active in the Vancouver marketing community, where she volunteers for both the BCAMA and NABS West. Hailing from Saskatchewan, Jill is fond of exploring new cuisines, watching football, and travelling to places that don’t have snow.
2013 has been a tough year already for security vulnerabilities with two high-profile web application development frameworks hit by remote code execution attacks.
On January 8, a remote code execution vulnerability in the Ruby on Rails framework was posted. Last week, a vulnerability was posted for the Java-based Spring Framework. The Spring Framework issue is less severe than the Ruby on Rails exploit because it is not present in the current (3.1) release of Spring. However, it does impact the previous versions of Spring, which are still used by many projects.
As attacks go, remote code execution is one of the worst type of attacks; it allows for malicious users to potentially take over your server. Impacts of the hack could include the theft of customer data (including credit cards) and the use of your server for malicious purposes.
Further increasing the impact of the vulnerability, the Ruby on Rails hack was “weaponized” by integrating it into the Metasploit vulnerability scanner. Metasploit provides a simple point and click interface for finding and potentially exploiting vulnerable systems.
If you’re not using Java or Ruby, it’s tempting to ignore these types of reports and carry on. This is the digital equivalent of whistling past the graveyard. However, if you are managing systems that are connected to the Internet (regardless of technology), you must have an approach in place to ensure these issues are caught and resolved as quickly as possible.
What can you do?
- Educate yourself. Keep on top of security vulnerabilities. The National Vulnerability Database is the canonical source of all software vulnerabilities.
- Have a maintenance plan. Make sure you have the budget and staff to keep the servers up to date in case a vulnerability comes out. If a 0-day hack came out tomorrow, who will fix it.
- Audit your network. Still have an ancient copy of Redmine you were evaluating running on a server? Time to shut it down or upgrade it.
- Minimize the impact. If your server was compromised, what is the impact? By hardening the server, you can reduce the impact of security breaches by minimizing the capabilities of a compromised system.
- Use automated security scanners. Metasploit is just as useful for IT admins as for malicious hackers or drive-by bots when it comes to finding vulnerable systems on your network.
- Move to the cloud. Rather than hosting the service yourself, offload the headaches to someone else. When evaluating providers, make sure they have a security plan in place and review it.
Bottom line: No technology stack is perfect, all will have security vulnerabilities sooner or later. However, with the right plans in place, you can sleep a little easier.
- The Code Climate Blog has an excellent writeup on the Ruby on Rails vulnerability and how to address it.
- The National Vulnerability Database is the canonical source of all software vulnerabilities. The Common Vulnerability and Exposure (CVE) search engine is a good place to search.
- To harden Windows servers, the Security Configuration Wizard (SCW) to help with the process. This ServerFault question has some great answers for security LAMP servers.
We’re currently growing our User Experience team at OpenRoad. This is always an exciting process as it’s great to see the different perspectives that each potential candidate brings. One of our favourite interview questions is “What makes a great UX practitioner?” The responses are as varied as the candidates themselves.
There are many different UX programs at local schools and no end of great books and websites that focus on the skills that people working in user experience need. Websites and higher education can teach people how to create wireframes, design an IA, and conduct a usability study. These foundational elements are important, but we feel that to really achieve success there are other “soft” skills that help define great UX people.
Empathy for the user. Good UX people are able to understand the pain that users feel when using systems, and why those pain points exist. They uncover people’s motivations and goals. Good UX people want to solve these problems. The solutions that are then provided address those pain points.
Not all users are the same – good UX practitioners can extract requirements from people in a natural manner. The best observational research and interviews happen when the people don’t know they are being observed or interviewed. A good UX practitioner is able to put people at ease, not be intimidating and be natural.
Advocate for the user
UX team members are the voice of the user back in the office. This means working with business, technical and visual design team members to help collectively design features that balance the needs of all stakeholders. Being able to communicate the true user need in a concise manner is important to ensure the user needs are not forgotten. Sometimes this means pushing back on ideas, and often it means getting creative to come up with solutions that balance many different requirements. The key role of the UX person is to ensure that the overall solution has not lost sight of the user problem that it was meant to solve.
If you’ve got these skills, we’d love to talk to you!
The web analytics practice involves more than reporting on what happened, it’s about distilling valuable insights and turning them into strategic action plans. The Certified Web Analyst (CWA) program seeks to recognize these forward-thinking analysts, with a standardized professional designation.
We are proud to announce that Bryan Robertson, our Analytics and Performance Measurement Practice Lead, is now one of 136 Certified Web Analysts worldwide and one of only three in Vancouver, BC.
Launched in 2010 by the Digital Analytics Association, the Certified Web Analyst designation is relatively new. Candidates must meet education and industry experience thresholds before applying to write the exam, which has only 50% pass rate. Equipped with over 16 years of experience in the internet industry, and a B.A. in Communications, Bryan recently wrote his exam on the Microsoft campus, in Redmond, WA.
Following his exam, Bryan took in the Seattle Predictive Analytics Symposium. Featuring keynote speakers from Microsoft and Adobe, and a theme of “Moving up from Reporting”, the symposium sought to move beyond simple storytelling, and accurately predict “how” and “what’s next”. Key areas of discussion included predictive marketing, media-mix modeling, real-time reporting, segmentation and data visualization.