The Official OpenRoad Blog


Welcome Deborah MacKenzie, our new UX Designer!

11535687_10155654069665176_5703660948535445135_nWe are thrilled to welcome Deborah MacKenzie to the team! Deborah brings eight years of UX design experience, having worked both locally and internationally. Deborah recently completed her Master’s degree in Digital Media (MDM) from Simon Fraser University. “A lot of people went into this program to change their career direction, but that wasn’t my goal,” she said. “I LOVE doing UX design—I wanted to keep doing it, I just wanted to do it better.”  (more…)

Meet our new Senior Project Manager, Joey Bevacqua!


Joey and his Yorkshire Terrier named Zoey

We are more than excited to welcome Joey Bevacqua to the team! Joey is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and brings over 12 years of business management experience to OpenRoad. Over the past 12 years, Joey’s favourite project that he has had the opportunity to manage was the Army of Two: The 40th Day website build for Electronic Arts.

The project scope was to build an online custom mask and armour creator to get users excited about the game’s upcoming release. The tool allowed users to design and share custom masks and armour that would be usable during multiplayer mode. Once users created their designs (more…)

Congrats to the ThoughtFarmer Website Team!

How do you emphasize that an enterprise software product, which is typically stodgy and corporate, is actually fun, vibrant, and exciting? The design team at OpenRoad hit the nail on the head when they redesigned the ThoughtFarmer website in 2014. We are happy to announce the team won four awards for their vision and hard work on the project.

ThoughtFarmer is social intranet software that enables organizations to improve their internal communications and collaboration. The website had been last designed in February 2012, and, with new marketing goals, it was time for a redesign.

The website’s primary audience consists of intranet buyers, who include a mix of corporate communications professionals, HR managers, and IT managers. The goal of the redesign was to 1) increase website conversions, 2) provide content that would help convert opportunities to sales, and 3) support client services initiatives.

As ThoughtFarmer is a constantly evolving product, the design team was challenged (more…)

Goodbye Cyberspace, Hello Code/Space at the 2015 BC Library Association Conference

Every year the BC Library Association gathers its members together to discuss the evolving role libraries play in our cities and communities across BC. This year, I was honoured to receive an invitation to speak at the annual conference.

I’ve always been a big fan of libraries – from a child who visited regularly, to a university student who camped out in the stacks researching and writing essays, to now a parent returning to the children’s collection on weekends. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with librarians: I helped redesign the Vancouver Public Library’s website back in 2007, have done a lot of work in the public legal education and information space with the team at Courthouse Libraries BC, and currently I’m serving my second year as a Trustee of the Board of the Vancouver Public Library. (more…)

We’ve been running the Sun Run for over 16 years.

The Vancouver Sun Run is one of OpenRoad’s longest-standing employee events: we’ve been running it since 1999! This Sunday will be our 16th year participating in the popular 10-kilometre race run.

Post-Sun Run, 1999.

Post-Sun Run, 1999. Nice shorts, Gord!

Since the acquisition of design agency Mod7 in 2013, our T-shirt logos received a big upgrade. We revealed our first ever designer-made logo last year, which our runners wore proudly. This year (more…)

Beyond Competency Tests & Riddles: Hiring People with Real-World Skills


The topic of hiring is frequently discussed in the tech community. It’s a seller’s market, where talent is in top demand. It’s also a position of great responsibility where someone who’s mediocre can become an albatross on the team’s neck. Stories are common about days-long interviews with multiple rounds meeting different groups of people.

When I came to work at OpenRoad, my interview was nine months long, and involved a major project for one of our biggest clients.

Fortunately, it was paid work, and it was ideal from a hiring perspective: OpenRoad had an extended period in which to evaluate me: they received real code from me, they interacted with me as part of a team, and they saw how I handled deadlines and project pressures. When they hired me (more…)

Congratulations CBC Transmission Team!


We’re pleased to announce that the responsive website we designed and built for CBC/Radio-Canada Transmission has won Best Broadband Website in the 2014 Davey Awards! Congratulations to our talented team of project managers, designers, and developers, and a special “thank you” to our client, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The CBC Transmission website drives revenue by enabling potential clients to easily find out more about CBC/Radio-Canada Transmission. Whether they’re in the office or out in the field, potential clients can use the new website to easily learn about specific CBC towers and service offerings.


Toddler First Usability


Got a mobile app? Test it on your toddler first.

I know you’re not really supposed to give your toddler an iPhone or iPad, but, really—it can’t be helped sometimes.

Before I had a kid, I’d judge parents who would give their child an iPhone. But now that I’m a parent, I totally understand. Parenting is hard, and parents are usually exhausted. Sometimes it’s the only way your toddler will stand in that Santa lineup for 20 whole minutes.

If you’re a parent and you haven’t given your child your smartphone or tablet, that’s great! I envy your discipline. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that screen time should be avoided for children under the age of 2. I agree with them. My toddler only gets my iPhone occasionally, not all the time, everyday.

But for the purposes of this post, let’s assume it’s more than likely that your toddler is going to get their hands on your mobile device sooner or later. (more…)

The Inaugural Vancouver User Experience Awards


The UX community in Vancouver creates some of the best-designed experiences in the world. As founding members of VanUE (the Vancouver User Experience Group), we were thrilled to co-present the inaugural Vancouver User Experience Awards on November 26, 2014.

Back in 2003, a handful of user experience practitioners met, hoping to find a way to connect Vancouver’s burgeoning UX community. Since then, the resulting organization—VanUE—has grown organically over the past 11 years to over 1400 Meetup members today, with a great lineup of monthly UX events.

This year, for the first time, we set out to celebrate and recognize the great work being done in our own city. (more…)

Avoiding Spinny-itus – Making Load Times More Bearable

My name is Dave Kachman and I have an iPhone 4. I’ve never met Siri. I type in a 4-digit password instead of scanning my thumb. I have never experienced LTE.

Most times, I despise the “spinny”.

Spinny Loading Indicator
Figure 1 – Animated GIF image of classic “spinny”

The “spinny” is an animated GIF image that is commonly used to indicate when a web application is loading something in the background. As users of the web, we started to see our beloved “spinny” in many websites when AJAX was introduced (which allows websites to asynchronously take actions without reloading the entire page). These actions could sometimes take a fair bit of time, so there was a need to inform users that the site was doing something in the background.

This is all well and good, but only if the wait time is reasonable. As I have witnessed over the last couple of years, adding a “spinny” whenever AJAX is used is not enough for all users. This is especially important for those not using the latest and greatest technology or those in areas with spotty network coverage.

The idea of “reasonable wait times” is not new. Jakob Nielsen posted about reasonable wait times in his article from 1993. He notes that the human attention span drifts after about a second of waiting, which means progress feedback must be given to the user if they must wait longer than 1 second to finish. The human attention span begins to drift again with delays longer than 10 seconds, after which Nielsen recommends updating users more frequently with updates on how the task is going. (more…)