The Official OpenRoad Blog


Helping Youth Impacted by Divorce

OpenRoad’s recent design for social innovation work gets some early recognition.

In 2016, the BC Family Justice Innovation Lab—a group of volunteers, lawyers, counsellors, and mediators—approached OpenRoad to help them better understand the experience of youth going through divorce with the hope of influencing change within the justice system.

And we’re proud to see the Provincial Court of British Columbia—our home province—recognize the potential of this new approach to justice reform.

Recent Additions to the ThoughtFarmer Team

Ever wonder what it takes to develop and maintain vibrant software that powers workplaces around the world? Just ask one of our three new additions to the ThoughtFarmer team.

Back row: Mina Abdelsayed. Front row, from left to right: Hollie Hodge & Graham Small.

Mina Abdelsayed, Technical Support Specialist

Our ThoughtFarmer clients will recognize Mina as the kind and helpful voice behind their troubleshooting calls. Having joined the team about a year ago, Mina is our new-ish technical support specialist. As a technical support specialist, Mina’s goal is to provide assistance for our clients and maintain ThoughtFarmer’s 99% client support satisfaction rating. This includes responding to support requests and performing installations and upgrades.

Mina has a degree in computer engineering, with a software designation from UBC. While most of his training has been in coding, he says he prefers support roles over being a developer. “As fun as developing code is, I love the challenge of trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Mina. “No two tickets are the same. It’s like a ‘deadlift for the brain’, always starting from the bottom and having to pick it up”.

Gordon Ross talks Service Design, this time in London!

Gordon Ross, Vice President of OpenRoad, is venturing out on another road trip to speak about service design. In December, he travelled to Toronto to speak at Canada’s first service design conference: IN FLUX. This time, Gordon has been invited to present at the fourth annual Service Design in Government conference on March 8th in London, England!

OpenRoad wins W³ Award for Product Design

A high-stakes redesign for a core business asset gets some nice recognition from the design community.

ThoughtFarmer has been selected by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts as a 2016 W³ Award recipient in the category Websites: Web Applications/Services.

OpenRoad’s design team worked closely with the folks at ThoughtFarmer* to completely overhaul the user interface of the well-established social intranet product. The latest and biggest release to-date reflects a ground-up redesign that dramatically enhances the usability of the software while fully-supporting existing users. We’re proud of the user-centric improvements and small innovations that were built into the product as a result of this unique collaboration.

ThoughtFarmer makes software that powers the intranets of companies around the world. Hundreds of customers from financial services, government, and manufacturing industries, like ACCA, ACCA, and Fokker use ThoughtFarmer to improve their internal communications and collaboration.

Have a look at the evolution of ThoughtFarmer from release 7.0 (on the left) to the more modern and vibrant release 8.0 (right).

Before and after: ThoughtFarmer intranet homepage.


Celebrating the Future of UX

OpenRoad co-hosts the 3rd Annual Vancouver User Experience Awards

On November 16, 2016, we were thrilled to co-hosted the third annual Vancouver User Experience Awards. Professionals, practitioners, and students came together to celebrate achievements in the field of user experience across categories for marketing, emerging experiences, products, non-profit, and students. (And let’s not forget the great food and beverages shared by all!)

Way back in 2003—before most people even knew that User Experience was a thing—a few OpenRoadies helped establish a little roundtable of folks in Vancouver passionate about things like “user-centric design” and usability. VanUE was born. (more…)

OpenRoadies Raise Awareness for Men’s Health

OpenRoad Movember

The much anticipated (for some) peak beard didn’t seem to shake out in 2016. Now whether you’re a facial hair aficionado or you prefer individuals to be sans stubble, OpenRoadies cast their judgements in November to support a great cause. We’re proud to announce that this year’s Mo’OpenRoadies raised a total of $2,460 for men’s health. Well done gentleman!

Movember brings awareness to some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health.

The Movember Foundation is a powerhouse behind the movement. Since their inaugural year in 2003, they’ve raised $759 million and funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects*. With the goal of reducing premature male deaths by 25 percent in 2030, it appears the Mo Bros are well on their way. And every year, OpenRoad is happy to do our part.

On behalf of the OpenRoad team, we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated, fundraised, and donated. Additionally, all donations were matched by OpenRoad.

Distilling 20 Years Into One Evening


How does a technology company thrive and stay relevant for two decades? If you distill OpenRoad down to its essence, a common thread emerges. Commitment to craft, the drive to solve hard problems, and a focus on empowering people with technology.

On October 6, 2016 we celebrated 20 years of success with our clients, friends, the local digital community, and even a few proud parents. Hosted at the legendary cocktail lounge, The Diamond, everyone enjoyed great food, music, and even some nostalgic photos dating back to the 90’s.

Thanks again to everyone who came out to share this very special night with us.

Onward to the gallery

Gordon Ross talks Service Design in Toronto

Gordon Ross talks Service Design

We’re happy to announce that Gordon Ross, Vice President of OpenRoad, has been invited to speak at Canada’s first service design conference: In FLUX on December 1, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario.

We’ve contributed to a number of Ministry of Justice service design initiatives, including projects focused on electronic filing at the Court of Appeal, accessing court audio and transcripts, and the citizen experience of filing a divorce in BC. And now we’re pleased to have the opportunity to speak about some of this important work—projects that support our vision of delivering humane, citizen-centred government services through design.

Practicing service design in the public sector in Canada and creating 21st century government services comes with its challenges (more…)

Social Logins: Are You Trading Privacy for Convenience?

Have you ever tried to add a comment on a blog post and BAM, you’re hit with a login wall? Just the other day I was reading an article on Medium, an online community blogging platform, and was prompted to login as soon as I clicked in the comment box. This barrier didn’t always exist. I remember a time where anyone could freely comment without the need for an account. However, bots, spammers, and trolls have taken advantage of this anonymity and as a result, account verification became a requirement in order to contribute. In some cases, comments sections have been completely removed.

I hadn’t commented on a Medium post in quite awhile, so as the registration form stared me in the face, several questions floated through my head. I thought to myself, do I even have an account? If I don’t, is it worth creating one just to use this service? If I did have an account, what email address would I have used? Was it my personal email or my work email? What password did I use? I guess I’ll just reset my password and see which email address it accepts… (more…)

A day in the life of a Software Developer Co-op at OpenRoad

What does it take to be a software developer at one of the largest digital agencies in Vancouver? Charles Shin got to find out first hand during his co-op at OpenRoad. Over the last seven months, Charles worked with a team of talented developers on a variety of projects. As he returns to school to finish the last semester of his Computing Science degree at Simon Fraser University, here is what he had to say about his internship at OpenRoad.


What was your co-op term like at OpenRoad?

My co-op at OpenRoad was a great experience. The developers I worked with have years (and some even decades) of experience and were really great in passing down their knowledge. I have done a few other co-ops but what made this work term stand out for me was the opportunity to be involved in real client-based projects. OpenRoad has some big name clients, so to work on websites for companies that are widely known was really exciting. Compared to previous co-op terms, the projects were larger in terms of people involved, size of codebase, complexity, and number of users using the end product. So I was exposed to a variety of problems that helped me gain a lot of experience.

What did you learn?

Something really valuable I learned throughout my co-op was the process of translating design into code. Based on loose guidelines I was able to create a step-by-step process that converts the designer’s wireframe onto our client’s website. I had the opportunity to practice this process for a number of different projects throughout the last seven months. This was valuable to learn because while future projects will differ in nature, I will be able to bring this process with me and use it render any design onto a software interface.

Any words of advice to other co-op students considering working at OpenRoad?