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Forget Tool Belts and Buzzsaws; Levy Watt is the Perfect Accessory for Contractors and Homeowners

May 29, 2015 | By | No Comments

Raise The Roof

The construction industry can be rather daunting for most people because it’s difficult to find a good, trustworthy contractor since a friend of a friend of a friend always has a horror story about getting ripped off that makes you run screaming from the whole idea.  These stories are so prevalent that there’s even a reality TV show appropriately called To Catch a Contractor about people getting ripped off for their home renovations, then being forced to hunt the contractor down in order to get the work fixed.  I even Googled ‘home renovation TV shows’ and there was a list of about 25 reality programs that focus on home repair and renovation, so it seems the fix-your-home market is booming.  But given the risk of the construction industry, what could a contractor or homeowner do to mitigate the possibility of things going south?

What's scarier, Adam Carolla or bad home renovations?

What’s scarier, Adam Carolla or bad home renovations?

 

The Levy Watt website is the solution for contractors and homeowners because it offers accountability and transparency for both parties. The website is a clever blend of a project management tool like Trello, and a secure third party bank like Paypal, but it’s tailored to meet the specific needs of the construction industry.  The entirely web based application allows both parties to communicate, manage and resolve issues as well as request, approve, and make payments as required.  Clients aren’t just handing large cheques over to contractors and contractors get payment as agreed upon steps are completed.  There is a channel for dispute resolution so if either party is unsatisfied there is a fair outlet to resolve issues.  All information is recorded on the website and both parties have access at all times to promote complete transparency.

Contractor Recommendations

Contractor Recommendations

The 14 Oranges Solution

14 Oranges decided to divide the project into three parts: a brochure website, a webapp, and an administration portal.  The Levy Watt website is used as a marketing and selling tool in order to promote their image and service.  The Webapp is the second part of the solution because it’s the tool used by the contractors and clients for project management.  The admin portal is the last part of the solution because it’s the backend that’s used, by Levy Watt staff, to manage projects, users, payment and much more.

Contractors and Homeowners Unite

The Levy Watt website allows clients to request specific contractors or ask for recommendations for a contractor.  Additionally, contractors can create projects and assign clients so it works for both parties.
Once the project is created it is still in draft mode. Contractors can add milestones and files so they can communicate with clients by private messages. When a project is ready for approval, the contractor sends an approval request to the client, who can approve or decline the request. Once the client approves the project, the funds get deposited to the project.

Levy Watt will then approve the funds and notify the contractor, who will initiate the first milestone.
Once the project is in progress, the client can request a change order (another milestone or a change to any of the existing milestones) and the contractor will create them. Any change order must be approved by both parties and will allow them to upload new files and send private messages.

Once a milestone is completed, the contractor will send a completion request to the client, who can easily approve or decline with just a message.  The client can approve the completion, or open a dispute.

Disputes are the tool Levy Watt provides for both parties to reach an easy solution to any possible problems that may arise during the course of a project. Both parties must agree to the resolution in order to close the dispute.

If both parties are subsequently unable to reach a solution, Levy Watt will suggest one and if they both still don’t agree, the dispute goes into external legal remediation which will usually lead to arbitration and the project will be placed on hold.

Levy Watt Infographic

The Levy Watt System

A Solid Foundation

Scoping and planning for the Levy Watt project was intense because of the intricate relationships between each section and how they worked together.  After mapping out the wireframes and determining the flow of interactions, 14 Oranges decided to use a custom WP theme which was designed by Zboya Design, that allows Levy Watt to update and control their website content. Providing a superior customer experience on any device was a crucial requirement for Levy Watt, so the entire website is responsive and mobile friendly, thanks to Twitter Bootstrap.
For the webapp, 14 Oranges used bsAdmin which is a bootstrap theme for admin tools and it helped make the contractor and client interface responsive. Since most Levy Watt users will be using phones or tablets, the webapp tools had to be responsive. They are able to upload files and validations with the respective bootstrap uploader and validator. In summary, jQuery, php and a MySQL database are the engine for the Levy Watt portal and webapp.

The Road to Success Is Under Construction with Levy Watt

Taking the risk out of home renovation and restoring peace of mind to homeowners was the goal behind the entire Levy Watt concept.  Having your living space exactly the way you want is every homeowner’s dream but that can be held back for fear of dealing with contractors.  With the Levy Watt webapp, both contractor and homeowner have transparency, clear communication and payment assurance to ensure a smooth transaction process.  Now it’s time to get renovating!

To learn more about how 14 Oranges can assist with making your ideas a reality by creating a web solution or a mobile app, contact sales@14oranges.com

The Working Mom at 14 Oranges

May 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

I have my dream job!

No, I am not an astronaut (sorry six year old me – that one didn’t pan out). Instead I am a Working Mom who doesn’t have to feel guilty about the “Mom” part of that title.

Ever since I became a Mom my kids have been my first priority. As everyone with kids will tell you “they grow up too fast” and given that my son is soon going to be a teenager and my daughter is now a 10 year old tween, I can attest to that statement being very true.

I had a lot of fun going to baby singing classes, toddler soccer lessons, Mommy and Me ballet and many other kids’ activities. I always knew however that I wanted to get back to work so my brain would be challenged with something a little more than just remembering the words to “Row, row, row your boat.”

Many companies love to advertise that they offer work-life balance. On further inquiry this generally means the option to work from home once a month or a couple of extra days of “personal time off”. The reality is that won’t cut it if you want to be involved in the lives of your busy kids on a day to day basis.

14 Oranges is different. This company truly understands work-life balance and should be a model to all organizations. I work from home full time – going into the office once or twice a month. Many of my coworkers have young kids, so meetings don’t get scheduled between 2.45 and 3.15pm as everyone knows this is the school run time.  I have time each morning to get my kids breakfast, pack their lunches and send them off to school. With a one minute commute time to my desk I am still easily able to start work before 9am – something that would be completely impossible if I had to drive to an office.

After school the kids make their own way home and understand that they need to let me finish off my work day. We are a sports mad family – hockey and soccer in the winter and baseball in the spring. On game days I’ll finish work early enough to get to the rink or park, and then put in a few more hours later in the evening. When the kids are sick they can stay snuggled up in bed knowing I am working just down the hall. I never have to use a vacation day to look after a sick child – something that is the norm for many working Moms.

Oh – and did I mention the cool points? As the Quality Assurance lead for an app/web development company I need a lot of devices for testing. At last count I had 11 different devices on my desk. Believe me if you are a 10 or 12 year old kid – having your Mom get the latest Apple or Android device as soon as it comes out is WAY cooler than her being an astronaut!

15 May

By

Review: Integra Adhesives App Takes the Guesswork Out of Colour Matching

May 15, 2015 | By |

Name:  Integra Adhesives

Version: 1.1.1

Developer: 14 Oranges

Platform: iOS and Android

Price:  Free

Available at the App store and Google Play

Why Integra Adhesives Chose 14 Oranges

14 Oranges was approached by Integra Adhesives to create an application to enable their customers to best match the colour of a countertop with the adhesives sold by Integra. Integra Adhesives has an extensive selection of colours with over 300 colour options matching over 6000 countertop sheets from more than 300 manufacturers, and they were looking to create an app to help simplify the colour match process.  When 14 Oranges was approached by Integra Adhesives, they had an existing website with similar functionality, back end systems, and databases but were looking to produce an app with as far a reach as possible, but were limited by budget constraints.  Additionally, Integra’s lone technical staff member did not have time or the precise expertise to begin the process of creating an app.  This situation is a common stumbling block for many organizations with small IT departments and firms looking to cut costs, so they look to start outsourcing specialized technological work.

The 14 Oranges Process

The 14 Oranges work process for Integra Adhesives started with an onsite kick-off meeting involving the 14 Oranges project manager and technical lead as well as key stakeholders from Integra Adhesives  in order to establish an internal review of requirements and scope. Once the review was completed, there was an initial ramp up phase and creation of sprints and milestones followed by multiple implementation and quality assurance cycles.  When the first deliverable was ready, it was reviewed by Integra Adhesives and adjustments were made based on their feedback.  The last step involved was device specific quality assurance and once that was successful, 14 Oranges submitted the final release to the respective App stores.  As with all our clients, 14 Oranges performed a final follow up to ensure that all loose ends were tied up and completed.

Functionality

The Integra Adhesives app takes the guesswork out adhesive colours for an installer.  The app features colour matching, products, fabricator tools and contact information to make life easier for installers.

Integra App

Colour Matching

The colour matching section of the app includes colour charts, a natural stone gallery and colour swatches.  These sections allow installers to access all the surface brands so you can match your adhesive to the product line.  No more guess and check then going back to the store to return the item that didn’t work.  The natural stone gallery is really interesting because you can compare the photos of your stone with the options on the app so you can get an idea of how a seam would look together.  The colour swatches are probably my favorite part of the app because the variety of colours is fantastic and fun.  With the Integra colour palette at your fingertips you can mix and match until you see a colour combination that is right.

Integra Colour Swatches

Integra Colour Swatches

Products

The product section of the Integra app includes adhesives, caulk, dispensers and accessories information.  The overview and spec information included in the app is so detailed that it makes it simple to understand.  There are instruction manuals for the adhesives and accessories so the app is also a teaching tool that provides instruction and knowledge.

Tools

There is an adhesive calculator in the tool section of the app that is very easy to use because it is clear and includes imperial and metric systems.  There is also a library of YouTube videos on the app so installers can get a better understanding of the adhesive selections that are offered by Integra.

Integra Search Function

Integra Search Function

Audience

The best part of the Integra Adhesives app is how clear and easy the information is to understand for any installer.  They can mix and match colours to see which combination they like, they can watch videos to learn about which adhesives are right for their job and see a whole array of products that will make their clients’ homes functional and beautiful.

Granite Matching

Granite Matching

Ease of Use

The Integra Adhesive app is incredibly straightforward to use and functional.  It was fun to navigate and play around with different colour combinations and stone options.  The product information is simple to understand and is arranged in a logical order.  The videos are a useful tool for pulling the instruction manuals together and getting a visual understanding.

Design

App design can be challenging for a manufacturing or industrial field since it’s not conventionally fun or engaging for consumers.  This app is designed well and has a lot of valuable information for someone in the home renovation field.

14 Oranges built the Integra Adhesives app with Adobe PhoneGap, a multi-platform framework, allowing deployment on a limited budget and meeting a tight timeline.

Round Up

The Integra Adhesive app is a valuable tool for installers but it also sets the benchmark for manufacturing and industrial firms.

04 May

By

Review: Apple Watch Akin to Owning the First Fax Machine

May 4, 2015 | By |

Friday April 24th

6.46pm- I walk in the door at the BBQ and Clarence the social media kingpin demanded to see the watch immediately.  This didn’t surprise me since the three screamy texts I got during the day were to remind me to bring the watch over.

6.47pm- Commit to living the full Apple watch experience by leaving my phone in my bag.

7.09pm- Regret decision to leave my phone in my bag because when I dictate replies to my wrist everyone stops talking and looks at me.  Awkward.

8.48pm-  Some people say that the ding noise when I get a text sounds like ‘a microwave or oven timer.’  Each time the watch makes a noise people laugh and tell me that my cooking is done.  Laugh all you want, rejection from society is what created X-Men!

9.19pm-  While losing miserably at Settlers of Catan, the watch tells me to stand up and walk around.  This is going to get old fast.

10.18pm- Verdict on my first day with the Apple Watch:  I feel like a caveman trying to learn about gravity.

Saturday April 25th

9.07am- Apple watch, I will best you!

9.40am- Fine Apple, I shall watch your instructional video but I won’t be happy about it.

9.42am- Ohhhhhhhhhh, now it makes sense.  As much as I hate to admit it, I think learning all this would have taken me a long time without the video.

11.04am- Commence stalking my brother to see if he got his Apple watch yet.

11.05am- Colin tells me that he got his watch and has been sending me taps but I haven’t responded.

11.06am- Fumble around with the watch and locate said taps.  Huzzah!  I win this round!

11.06am- ?? Slip into black hole of time sending taps, heartbeats and crudely drawn pictures to each other while laughing at our own hilarity.  Since Colin is the only one I know with an Apple watch, he’s the sole victim of these special watch features.

3.09pm-  Try to use my Starbucks reward card on my watch but fail horribly.  The barista shares in my disappointment because she said she wanted to see the watch in action too.

3.10pm- While waiting for my drink I conclude that I have no artistic skill and the Digital Touch drawings make me look like an escaped mental patient. Tweens stare at my watch while I put a lid on my latte.  The world feels right again.

7.00pm- At dinner I keep checking my watch because I fear I missed a tap or notification.

7.01pm- No missed communication; I’m just unpopular.

Triage

One thing I have to keep reminding myself about the Apple watch is that its main purpose is for notifications, like a pager from back in the day.  Initially I got annoyed that I saw an email or whatsapp then had to get my phone out to reply to it, but now I’ve trained myself to think of it more as triage: decide which ones are worthy of getting my phone out and which ones aren’t.

Can You Hear Me Now?

When I have phoned people they have unanimously agreed that the call quality on their end is great; even better than the handsfree set I use in the car. It can be hard to hear on my end if I’m on the street or somewhere noisy, but overall I’ve been quite happy with it.  In addition to the call quality, the watch is fantastic when you’re driving.  You can switch songs and answer calls without having to touch your phone.

Size Matters

I am used to a very heavy Nixon watch so switching to the Apple watch has been a shocking adjustment.  I didn’t think it would make a difference but it does since I’ve worn my Nixon for I’d say 10 years and I feel naked without it.  The Apple watch I’m wearing is the 38mm Stainless Steel model and there’s a 42mm option available for those like me who prefer a larger face.  I don’t find the watch small to use, it just feels so light compared to what I am used to.

The apps on the watch appear super tiny and I had no idea how my giant paws were going to access any of them.  In a true testament to the glory of Apple, they are so precise!  I can stab my finger at the screen and accurately hit any app I want. It must be witchcraft!  Most third party apps aren’t supported on the watch but that will change very soon.  The Digital Crown on the side is fantastic because it helps you zip through long lists of emails or texts so you don’t block the screen with your finger.  I keep accidentally taking screenshots though, so I guess my finger accuracy still needs some fine tuning.

 

How’s the Weather Up There?

Since Vancouver is notorious for rain, I thought pulling my wrist out to check messages would be a recipe for a waterlogged disaster but the watch has been great.  We’ve had a strange assortment of weather (rain! wind! sun!) each day so it’s been wonderful for my testing.  Even in the blazing sun, the watch is easy to read.  It still doesn’t have a scratch on it but I’ve been guarding it with my life.

Leopard Print, Polka Dots, Oh My!

I adore my Nixon watch- it goes with everything because its band is made from real bamboo.  10 years ago (I still can’t believe that) I couldn’t decide which timepiece would be best for my long term watch dreams and needs.  When I was assigned the Apple watch, I wasn’t sure about the white band because white ceramic watches have been trendy with hipsters and I wanted to stay far away from that nightmare.  Since I’ve been wearing the Apple watch, I don’t feel restricted in my outfits whether they are casual or more formal.

I think the Apple watch is the most fashion forward of all the smart watches because it’s sleek, sophisticated and minimalist.  It works for both men and women and has enough colour options to suit everyone’s tastes.

Accessorize that watch!

Accessorize that watch!

I’ve Got the World on my Wrist

Since the workplace is now anywhere that has internet access, the Apple watch nicely complements any member of the mobile workforce.  I can be sitting at Starbucks and see work Google chats, emails and any other notification and decide if they are urgent or not.  Usually when I’m walking on the street, I don’t hear my phone in my handbag so having a gentle tap on my wrist is the perfect alert.  The Taptic Engine isn’t intrusive but it’s still noticeable.  I would argue that the tap is the most impressive part of the watch;  the technology is truly brilliant.

The battery life of the Apple Watch has been great.  I read several reviews where readers complained about the battery on their phone or watch dying in the afternoon.  I am not a techie but I’ve been pleased with the battery life of the watch.  It hasn’t died, nor has it needed to be charged in the middle of the day. I normally charge my phone in the late afternoon because I fear living life with less than 50% battery.  The watch has not accelerated my need to charge my phone so I generally don’t even think about it.  I can see if some people are constantly using the watch that that would drain their battery, but for normal users I can’t imagine it will be an issue.

I’ll Fax Ya!

Since many of the features and fun aspects are only available to other Apple watch users, it feels like I own the first fax machine.  I have this amazing piece of technology but it’s not terribly useful for some features until it hits critical mass and everyone is walking around talking into their wrists and sending drawings of cowboy hats to each other.

Not a cowboy hat

Not a cowboy hat

The Beginning of An Icon?

It’s too soon to tell if the Apple watch will be iconic the way that the first iPhone and coloured iMacs redefined their brand and place in the market.  After I got the first iPhone, people actually followed me around campus and on the street just to get a glimpse of it.  Strangers requested demos and couldn’t believe they were seeing it in person.  From the first day I had the iPhone, it was a showstopper and it was clear Apple would change the way we communicate.

The watch doesn’t have the iconic feel of the first iPhone but its technology will have a lasting effect on us.  In less than a year I’m certain everyone will be talking into their wrists and it will become as normalized as everyone at a dinner table, heads bowed, staring into a dimly lit screen.  Only time will tell but now we have a watch to keep track of our progress.

Stay tuned for my next Apple watch review where I stop being so lazy and finally give the activity apps a whirl!

24 Apr

By

Apple Watch Vs. The Non-Techie: A Review

April 24, 2015 | By |

The Apple Watch has Landed!

Day One:

12.57pm- Watch delivered to office. I terrify the delivery man by popping up from my desk like a whack-a-mole. Mild staff panic ensues

12.58pm- Box opened, much oohing and ahhhing. Luckily no one is trampled

12.59pm- Admire snappy watch with my outfit.  Conclude everything goes with leopard print

1.00pm- Everyone has gone for lunch, I am left to sort out the watch.  My precious….

1.04pm- Victory is mine!  I have got the watch synced to my iPhone

1.06pm- Uh oh.  I have just unsynced the watch from my iPhone

1.08pm- Must get this fixed before everyone finds out and I’m mocked mercilessly

1.10pm- Cannot respond to the messages I sent crowing about the watch because it is still trying to re-sync.  Oh, the shame

1.40pm- Everyone returns from lunch and ping pong, no one is the wiser to my mishap. Muhaha

2.04pm-  While driving home I receive a phone call.  Huzzah!  I answer and talk into my wrist like I’m in Star Trek.  Make a mental note of the ease in which I can answer calls while driving

3.00pm- Meet friend at Starbucks.  Am stared at and approached by strangers.  Is this what it feels like to be famous?

3.30pm-  Am rudest person alive because I keep checking my watch to see if anyone is contacting me.  Shocker, no one is

3.40pm-  I walk home and talk into my wrist again.  Perhaps I should consider a job in the Secret Service…

4.00pm- Continue fighting watch for dominance.  Wondering why two and a half years in IT has not prepared me for this moment

4.05pm- Begin charging watch in anticipation of people wanting to inspect it tonight at a BBQ

Stay tuned for next week’s (more in-depth) instalment of the Apple watch review!

22 Apr

By

2 Months Later And The View Is Just As Nice

April 22, 2015 | By |

I thought I would get tired of this view after a while and turns out not yet …

14OrangesOfficeView

22 Apr

By

Forever Yours Lingerie: Staying Ahead of the Mobile-Friendly Wave

April 22, 2015 | By |

Google Analytics is a great way to keep in touch with the online habits of your customers.  After watching their analytics, Forever Yours Lingerie noticed that each month, the number of mobile visitors to their website steadily increased.  This is a very common client request for 14 Oranges since 60% of web traffic comes from mobile and just yesterday, Google has started factoring mobile capabilities into its search rankings.

Forever Yours wanted to stay on top of the trends and optimize their website to be mobile-friendly in order to better serve their customers.  Our team adapted the Forever Yours websites theme by adding breakpoints where the site’s elements are changed dynamically to make the content easy to read and navigate on any mobile device.

Try loading the Forever Yours website on your tablet or smartphone.  Savvy shoppers will be thrilled with the site responsiveness, clear menu, easy scroll, product photos, selection and checkout.  There are lots of high resolution photos for each product on Forever Yours, which is much appreciated because many online stores choose aesthetics over customer experience and only include one or two small photos.

For many, the checkout process can make or break an online shopping experience.  According to the Baymard Institute, 68% of shopping carts are abandoned online. If users have to jump through hoops of fire to buy something, they will abandon the purchase and vow never to return.  Forever Yours has a fast and easy checkout page so your head doesn’t explode and force you to quit.  They also offer in-store pickup which is an underrated feature that is so useful for people who live in the area.

Forever Yours has women of all sizes and ethnicities represented on both their website and mobile site which is refreshing and really positive to see from a women’s clothing retailer.

For an easy, mobile-friendly shopping experience, head over to Forever Yours to check out the selection of lingerie, swimsuits and even men’s boxers (see guys, they didn’t forget about you!). For a fantastic mobile website, come talk to 14 Oranges.

10 Apr

By

Orange is the New Blonde – My First 8 Weeks at 14 Oranges

April 10, 2015 | By |

As the newest member of 14 Oranges, I’m excited to write about my time here and why I chose to join the team.

Given the increase of the mobile workforce, telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular and 14 Oranges embraced that, even on my first day of work.  Since I’m the newest addition to the team, I showed up on my first day expecting the typical 8 hour day of reading binders and being introduced around while I make the same lame joke to each person I met.  To my surprise, after going through expectations and paperwork, I was encouraged to finish off my first day at home. That’s when I knew 14 Oranges was different than every company I’ve ever worked for.

I am used to planning work from home days in advance or going into the office to fulfill an unspoken amount of time that ‘should’ be spent at work.  I’d like to believe that my water cooler banter is that thrilling but even I know it isn’t (although if you want to discuss Breaking Bad or the zombie apocalypse, I will bring refreshments).  Working in a place that accepts and encourages work life balance is something that has been so invigorating and it feels incredible to be trusted to make a schedule that works for me.  Every employee at 14 Oranges has the freedom to come and go based on their individual circumstances which now makes sense why there is no turnover.

The benefit of having been in the throes of job hunting during the Great Recession is that my work experience took me everywhere from enterprise organizations to offices with nine employees, so I’d like to think I’ve seen it all.  One common trait from my experience has been the suspicion of new technology.  Suggesting something like Google Docs was typically met with some form of ‘that’s not how we’ve always done things around here’ and a vague promise to look into it at a future date.  Disheartening, yes, but not a deal breaker, which is why it’s so unique to be in a place that is already using newer technology platforms like Trello.

There has been a lot of research regarding Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the workplace but it’s hard to understand the dynamics until you’ve experienced it yourself.  Some generational challenges I have experienced first-hand include a 65 year old director asking me how to access the internet on his iPhone and management’s terror of everything social media or in the 21st century.  Working with the 14 Oranges team has been new for me because it involves people of all ages who are very adept at using technology but more importantly they are enthusiastic and open minded about learning and trying new things.

I ultimately chose to join the 14 Oranges team to leave behind old boy’s clubs, out of touch management and aversion to new ideas so that I could gain flexibility, trust, work life balance and freedom.

23 Mar

By

Hiring – Senior Web Developer

March 23, 2015 | By |

THIS POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED. Thank you for your interest.

We are looking for a senior web developer to join our team on a full time basis. You will be working on some of our new customer projects.

Responsibilities May Include:
– Development of web sites and back end systems
– Interface with customers throughout life of projects
– Fix bugs in existing code base

Desired Qualifications:
– At least 2 years of PHP/mySQL development
– 2 years working with Javascript and/or jQuery
– MVC Framework Experience (codeigniter or similar)
– Experience working with WordPress
– Experience with JSON and/or REST API development
– Experience with twitter bootstrap would be a plus
– Good communication skills
– Good attitude
– Good aptitude
– Self starter and can work independently

Please send your resume and cover letter in PDF format to hr@14oranges.com with REF 14O-WD15-W

13 Mar

By

14 Oranges Congratulates Dr. Segal’s for Entering the Dragon’s Den!

March 13, 2015 | By |

On March 4th, Dr. Segal’s took their stylish compression socks to Canada’s own Dragon’s Den. The Richmond based company, a long time client of 14 Oranges, took home a prize of interest free cash in exchange for a 7.5% share.

It’s no wonder they did so well because these socks with benefits gently squeeze your legs to reduce pain, give relief to fatigued legs and ward off vein issues. Plus, they come in a mix of colours and patterns that range from polka dots to leopard print.

To purchase your pair of socks before they sell out, head over to the Dr. Segal’s online store, designed by Zboya Design and maintained by 14 Oranges.

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