Mobile application for the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis | 5 minutes read
BAGI or Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis is the professional association that unites people from the residential construction industry and related businesses to conduct their business efficiently and ethically to provide the community with reliable, safe, affordable residential construction accomplished by competent professionals in the industry.
It has always been a high priority for BAGI to promote, educate and network with their members, along with providing advocacy, education and meaningful services to benefit its members and the new-home building industry in the most efficient way. BAGI was looking for a solution to replace their existing mobile app with a newer and more user-friendly platform that would make interaction and communication within the community become faster, more productive and convenient.
After researching for options, BAGI chose 14 Oranges based on their deep experience in the mobile application development industry while understanding the association’s needs. 14 Oranges were able to provide them with a mobile-first approach to enhance the engagement with BAGI’s members.
One of the vital issues in the project was the transfer of the association’s existing app content into the new platform which 14 Oranges was able to do with ease.
Thus, in April 2019 the brand new mobile application for BAGI was launched and now is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The BAGI mobile app is a very simple and convenient engagement tool that creates a place for members to go for internal communications. Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis members can use this app to stay in the loop of Association events and activities.
Furthermore, the mobile app can easily provide members with access to Policies and Procedures, internal messaging, schedules of the upcoming events, industry news like government affairs, networking and others. It is also possible to collect feedback from the members to improve association services.
The application has a simple but modern interface as well as the easily-managed CMS platform Info Grove, allowing to create and manage the content, add or remove modules quickly and conveniently.
About company success from the Owner and CEO of 14 Oranges – Sylvain Marcotte / 10 minutes read
Birthplace: Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada
Family status: Married, has 3 daughters.
Education: B.A.Sc.Electrical Engineering, UBC.
Prior to 14 Oranges: Vice President in CounterPath Corporation managing the application development and support. Overall Sylvain has over 20 years of software development and engineering experience.
Favorite place to travel: Italy, Spain, California.
Favorite meal: Jambalaya, Poutine
Hobby: soccer, ice hockey, and skiing.
Sylvain, your company has been operating for 10 years already and you have reached impressive result but before 14 Oranges, it seems like you were pretty successful in your previous companies. Why did you decide to change your professional life?
Well, we need to take a few steps back even before I started my first job. When I graduated from university, I had the desire to start my own company but felt I was too “green” for it so I decided it would be best to gain some experience first. I worked for a few “startup” companies and participated in interesting projects that gave me the necessary experience I required to start a business. But yes, at some point when you have reached a top-level position it is much harder to quit and start from scratch. But anyway, the decision of having my own business was made a long time before it was just postponed. So yes it took a while but one day on my drive to work, I knew it was the right time and started it that day.
Why 14 Oranges?
As you might have guessed, we get that question a lot. Come with me and I will give you the story. Don’t worry, it is nothing too crazy.
The world is experiencing a digital boost so it is obvious that the software industry is growing in general but why did you choose your current focus – mobile apps development?
Firstly, as I mentioned I have education and experience in this area that ensured the company could achieve success. Secondly, the mobile industry has been exploding since 2008 and that are no signs of it slowing down, so it means that the demand for mobile applications is still strong. We expect to have ubiquitous access to 5G in Canada in a couple of years which only strengthen that trend further. For example, at the moment, most people spend about 5-7 hours daily on smartphones and with 5G, that number can only go up. Additionally, we help organizations like associations, unions, cities and governments, and other public institutions to increase their presence in this digital world because in the future – mobile applications could remain the one and only source of engagement between organizations and people.
So it seems you are in a trending industry and you have the growing market?
Yes, but with a growing market, the competition is growing as well. That’s the challenge that we need to deal with.
How do you plan to compete then?
It is simple. You need to provide value to your customers and listen to their needs and make sure your services and solutions cater to their needs.
Does this approach explains the company success? You have received a number of awards and this year 14 Oranges has been ranked once again as one of the Top App Development Companies* in Canada.
Success is always a combination of different factors. I would say, that for us the fundamental factor making sure our solutions can help them solve their business problems. We are not a supermarket of mobile apps. We focus on the organization or business pains and challenges and try to understand them as best we can to ensure our solutions deliver as expected. So that’s why, for example, we offer a free demo of the mobile app to our potential customers. So the company can test it with their own customized options, modules, branded icons, and styles. And during this demo customer can test the benefits of its own mobile app even before signing a contract. We start with a simple phone call where we evaluate your needs and make sure we are a good fit. We have actually turned down business on many occasions as we felt our services were not a good fit and would result in our customers to not be fully happy. If we see a fit, we usually proceed to further discovery to make sure we fully understand their needs and also to make sure they fully understand what we can and cannot offer. In many cases, with our Info Grove solution, we can meet their needs right away and can offer a free demo which would closely resemble the app that they would get in the end.
Does this mean that a customer gets a free demo version of its own mobile app?
Yes, exactly. And this is one of our advantages.
But this is time-consuming, isn’t it? Is it effective from the business point?
In this case yes, because we have our own solution – Info Grove. It is a software platform for mobile application development and content management. It is a friendly CMS designed for non-tech savvy people such as communication managers allowing them to create a full-featured mobile app quickly and easily.
How did you come up with the idea to develop your own platform?
Remember, I was talking about listening to the needs of our customers? One thing we heard time and time again was that full custom applications were too expensive and took too long to get to market. They just want something to solve their needs without having to break the bank and without any hassles on managing the system because usually, the people who deal with the app day-to-day are not IT people. That’s one reason. The other is simple: any system should work for people to simplify their life, not vice versa. So, that’s why we created our own CMS for mobile applications. It doesn’t mean that we are focused only on the Info Grove. We can develop any customized mobile app as long as it better solves their needs but in many cases, Info Grove is the right solution to solve the needs of our customers.
According to your website profile, you can develop websites as well?
Yes, absolutely. We acquired a web development company in 2014 and have all the expertise and proven experience to deal with any complexity of websites. We have an internal team of web developers so we can manage and control the entire process. We do not outsource any of our work even though we get countless emails and phone calls from companies in India offering their outsourcing services. We value face to face meetings to again ensure our customers are served in the best possible way.
Talking about your internal team, and employees, what are the principles for you of hiring people?
We have a small team and every person is valuable. So I put personal attention when hiring people. I consider education and professional background, probably as would any other company, but most of all I pay attention to personal potential, the ability to make a valuable contribution to the company, and at the same time their ability and desire to learn, develop themselves because by neglecting your personal development, you cannot be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing environment.
How do you stimulate the development of your employees?
First of all, I give a “room” for this. And it’s not because they are allowed to work from home (laughing). Because I give them an opportunity to come up with their own solutions, ideas, and if it is something reasonable I usually support it. Having an idea it is only a small part, but when you implement it, you consequently develop yourself and as a result of, the company as well.
Where do you get the inspiration?
My inspiration is my family. I spend a lot of time with my daughters and though they are grown up enough but still require a lot of attention. And in return, I get a lot of energy from them.
Starting from the title you may have the impression that we put the wrong word “work” instead of “home”, but it’s not a mistake. Once per month all employees at 14 Oranges come to the office to spend a working day in the office.
Everyone knows that it is a general practice for the IT industry that software companies usually have a friendly or flexible schedule for the employees and allow different options to manage their own schedule like flexible working hours.
14 Oranges goes further and turns this upside down. So, according to company rules employees usually work from home and once per month visit the office. So that’s why we call it “working from work” day.
Company management approach, software development specifics, as well as unified communication capabilities allow us to have this tactic and operate the company without impacting the quality and the efficiency of the team. On the contrary, people are more productive, engage more, and assume more responsibility for their tasks and the company success in general.
As expected, employees are always welcome to work from the office any time they want so naturally if someone requires the office space for a meeting or other work-related scenarios, he or she can come by at their own schedule.
“Working from work” day is usually full of meetings, discussions, sharing experiences and news. Moreover, we are all welcomed to share lunch and spend some time informally.
It is also a good opportunity for a few photos of our team.
A simple guide for communications managers | 6 minutes read
The development of a mobile application can seem like a daunting task for communications managers as for most it is something new that has not been undertaken in the past. Fear not, as we will present the process to you in simple stages to help you with the process and hopefully alleviate your fears.
First of all, everything starts with an idea; however, understanding the implementation process is crucial to make sure you succeed with your project. Any brilliant idea can collapse with poor execution while, by contrast, a simpler idea can lead to brilliant results with good execution and a good implementation process. This rule works for any project but is especially true for software development and specifically – mobile application development.
In real life, the best results are achieved when the client’s side, usually a communications manager, and development team achieve full understanding and fruitful cooperation.
Before even starting to work on a mobile application, it is very important for communications managers to understand the development cycle and its stages.
So, here are our essential stages of how to manage this process:
1. Define your idea and create a brief
Literally, put on paper your idea by answering the following questions:
Who is your future mobile app?
What are the challenges faced by your community?
What can a mobile app be helpful with?
What are your organization challenges?
Ideally, we also recommend having all your brand standards and guides already prepared as it will help with development steps; however, it is not essential to get started.
2. Choose a supplier.
Here different options can be considered such as an in-house developer, a freelance developer, or a reputable development company. We will not dive into this topic much further in this discussion (more on this later) but what is important here is to make sure your supplier has experience in your area and understands the business processes of your organization.
In this meeting, the communications manager and the development team discuss the mobile application requirements, the organization “wants” and “cans”, the technical implementation and feasibility, the timing, the challenges, and what should be done at each stage from both sides.
Here are some technical questions that usually are discussed with the development team:
What platforms will be supported? (iOS, Android, other.)
What devices types will be supported? (Phone, Tablets, Phablets)
Will users need to log in?
Will the app need to know the user’s location? If so, how precise and how often?
Will push notifications be required?
Will payments be accepted inside the app?
Will the project require a website?
Will the project require an administration panel?
What kind of features do you require?
4. Create a mobile application plan.
At this stage, the structure of the mobile app needs to be considered as well as the logic, features, content, and how the app should work. While in this stage, any changes can be reviewed and altered quite easily so it is important to finalize all issues to avoid any mistakes at the later stages.
5. Implement a prototype and design.
A prototype – is the clickable draft of your future mobile app. Here you can have the complete visualization of how your mobile app will look like including the design. Recall, we also recommended having your brand guides prepared? Having these guides will allow the development team to incorporate them inside the prototype so you get an almost complete visualization of your mobile app.
6. Start mobile app development.
This stage is the development stage of the project and should be entirely handled by the selected development team. Just make sure you have approved all necessary materials for the team and they have everything they need (according to previous stages) to develop the app.
7. Test the mobile app and launch.
At this stage, you have received your completely finished dream mobile app. So now you and your organization need to test it. We would recommend having a few reliable team members to test the app so that you will receive relevant comments that can be adjusted before the app is launched.
After approving the app, it will be ready to submit to the respective app stores. Once the apps are public, the project is completed.
Following these basic steps will allow you to simplify and improve the cooperation between your organization and the supplier to get a mobile app that can start to resolve your organization challenges and improve engagement with your members. It wasn’t too bad, was it?
Don’t forget to order a Free Demo of your future Mobile Application. Click here.
About the advantages of mobile apps for organizations | 5 minutes read
It has been almost two decades since the first smartphone came into the market (remember those Palm Treo?). Since that time, the technology landscape has seen tremendous improvements such as the ability to receive emails or full internet browsing and of course mobile apps. Those improvements have boosted the development of supplementary industries such as mobile phones production and software development.
Since the first apps were developed back in 2008, our smartphones have become an essential part of our life – it influences our behaviors especially in the way we consume information, consider it, and take action. No wonder that on average we spend 8.8 hours per day engaging with digital content on our smart devices (According to Adobe Consumer Content Survey).
With that in mind, it is important to consider that drastic behavior change in how you communicate with your audience. No longer is it sufficient to just send emails and expect 100% engagement from your audience or simply have a website, smartphones and mobile apps must be considered or you risk the chance to lose your customers or members.
How can your association or organization benefit from a mobile application?
Before answering, let’s analyze human behavior.
We want to get the information in the most efficient way which means fast, relevant, convenient, and interactive, and also we want our voice to be heard. So, we tend to engage with the content that can constantly satisfy our expectations. In return, organizations are looking for options on how to satisfy our needs.
In professional marketing terminology, this process is called customer experience.
Let’s consider how a mobile application can improve your member’s customer experience.
1. Fast and relevant information delivery
With a mobile app, your customers or members will receive the updated or most relevant information right in the app or with special app notifications or pop-up messages. There is no need to wait for a web page download or even remember a specific URL to find out the information. With everything in the app, you can be sure your customers or members receive all updates on time.
2. Engagement efficiency
First, you have a mobile tool to create different interactions with your members or customers to hear their voice and analyze their opinion to improve your services. Voting, surveys, collecting feedback on a specific topic or the event – all of this can be implemented directly in the mobile app.
Second, the customer can use smartphone tools to engage with the app: make screenshots/photos and attach them in the app, scan barcodes, screen fingerprints to identify themselves for voting or surveys for example.
3. Costs reduction
Direct messages in the app reduce costs compared to other traditional messaging options. Moreover, the messages are secured and its delivery is guaranteed because you as an organization control this process.
It reduces the costs for the operational support of your community members or customers because you do not have to manage the traditional paperwork, for example organizing the elections or surveys.
4. Improve your brand awareness.
The branded mobile app icon is always noticeable on the mobile phone screen and it constantly reminds your members about your brand and organization’s activity.
In general, by considering a mobile application now, you are ensuring your customer’s or member’s loyalty in the future.
Next time you are taking public transit, take a look around and see how many people are looking at their smartphones. Now ask yourself a question, are they looking at your app or the app of one of your competitors?
Consider a mobile application for your association?
SafeCare BC Mobile Application with the Info Grove platform
SafeCare BC as a health and safety association aimed to make the care sector a safer place to work by bringing sector specialists together to collaborate and share best practices among the continuous care workers. Managing these processes is not an easy task especially in this particular area so SafeCare BC was looking for a communication tool to simplify that process and turned to 14 Oranges for assistance.
By understanding these business challenges, 14 Oranges offered SafeCare BC a mobile-first solution allowing to simplify these operation procedures within the association and its members allowing them to remain focused on their priorities – health and safety in the continuing care sector.
SafeCare BC mobile application. Main page.
Consistent education, best practices sharing, and forums are particularly important for continuing care community, so the SafeCare BC mobile application created with the Info Grove platform allows to streamline the education process.
It is now easier to register for courses directly in the app, review the schedule, or register for courses with Member 365. The app also allows registered users to sign in and view the relevant course materials. The app gives quick off-line access to important documents and also contains a survey module to manage feedbacks and improve users experience.
Safe Care BC mobile application. Schadule.
To encourage greater uptake of the app, SafeCare BC decided to create a competition among the members who installed the app to win a free 1-day SafeCare BC workshop.
SafeCare BC mobile application. Feedback module for the competition.
“Engaging the continuing care sector has always been a priority for our Association. 14 Oranges provided us with a fantastic way to expand our reach and increase access to quality education opportunities for peer educators and healthcare workers within the continuing care sector in BC. Our SafeCare BC app provides quick access to our health and safety resources and tools, as well as a place where we can conveniently connect with our members. We encourage all continuing care workers to take advantage of our mobile app, and while you browse its options, don’t forget to enter our prize draw!” – SafeCare BC.
Providing services to the community and building a meaningful medium around them is very important. It’s not an easy job, especially when we speak about quality. Sometimes you never know for sure if the job was successful until you ask your community: What are they thinking about?
Analyze the success of the event you hosted, the satisfaction of the new improvement you have launched, or in contrast, ask the community. Ask them to support your new ideas, innovations, or to help choose new members and executives – this creates two-way communication that increases the satisfaction and loyalty of your community members. Consequently maximizing the quality of the job you provide as an organization.
14 Oranges understands these needs. We are happy to announce the launch of a new feature in the Info Grove mobile application platform – The Voting / Survey Module.
Info Grove’s Voting / Survey Module is a very simple and friendly module which can be used for both voting and survey purposes.
The integrated Voting / Survey module allows your organization to create, send, collect feedback, and analyze information to improve your services. While enabling your community to vote for their favorite ideas, new members, and executives directly in the mobile application.
So, with the Info Grove Voting / Survey Module, you have one simple tool for different feedback purposes which includes (but is not limited to):
A survey, referendum, plebiscite voting Receive feedback with binding results or not
Executive voting Simple voting = 1 vote for 1 candidate
Group voting Vote for more than 1 candidate for a position, for example, board members or city council representatives
Resolution voting Have your community give their approval on your resolutions, either to your full membership base or for board members and executives only
Write-in voting Allow members to write-in the name of a candidate on the spot
Aside from the opportunity to improve your community membership engagement, Info Grove Voting / Survey Module allows your organization to save money by reducing costs on the old form of paper printing, mailing, and manually counting feedbacks.
14 Oranges provides a high-security level of data protection with Info Grove Voting / Survey Module. All information is safe during and after the voting/survey process.
Hudson County is ready for the upcoming election on November 10 with new technological improvements for residents in the county.
Most notable is Hudson County’s updated mobile app by county clerk E. Junior Maldonado. The app is available for free on both iOS and Android.
The election app helps citizens with a variety of election-related tasks, including:
– Allow citizens to register to vote.
– Provide info on early voting.
– Allow people to request a vote by mail.
– Obtain info on party declaration.
– Access a calendar of important dates.
– View a list of candidates for senator.
– View samples of completed ballots.
– Receive more info on who’s running in the election.
– View election results from the past.
– Access a district map to see what district citizens are voting in.
– Find locations on where to vote.
“We believe that our investment will pay dividends for years to come by allowing the public an easier, more secure and transparent way of obtaining necessary and critical information.” said Hudson County Clerk, E. Junior Maldonado.
Hudson County staff plan to keep residents up to date as election day progresses with push notifications. Citizens can continue with their day as they received election notifications, keeping them engaged. With the mobile app, citizens don’t have to refresh a web browser or a social media page to stay informed; they can just use the app.
The Hudson County election app was built using 14 Oranges’ Info Grove platform. Info Grove is equipped with a cloud-hosted content management system and allows county staff to independently update and add content to the mobile app. Click here to learn more about Info Grove mobile apps.
As part of the 3.3 release for Info Grove, 14 Oranges added a simple way to install hardware beacons and send location-based notifications or content offerings. In this article, we outline what a beacon is, how it’s different from a geo-fence, and how to set up beacons with Info Grove.
What is a Beacon?
Definition from Tech Target: “A beacon, in the context of location-based services, is a small hardware device that enables data transmission to mobile devices within a specific range of the device. For most applications, recipients must have Bluetooth turned on, have the associated mobile app installed with location services enabled and must have opted in to accept the sender’s transmissions.”
A beacon differentiates itself from geo-fences as geo-fences use GPS technology and not Bluetooth to activate the location-based notifications or content.
A beacon is a small physical device that’s often hidden from sight. Beacons take the shape of a rock or a small plastic chip. There are several beacon providers to choose from and all integrate with Info Grove, but for simplicity, we recommend Estimote Beacons.
After the beacon is purchased it must be synced with the backend of a mobile app, usually the content management system. Once configured in the backend, the beacon uses Bluetooth to link to the user’s device. When the app gets close to the beacon, a pre-programmed notification will appear or you can unhide location-specific content.
Beacons vs. Geo-Fences
While beacons and geo-fences may appear to complete the same function, the way they differ is important when deciding which feature to use for location-driven content. Location accuracy is generally better with beacons than geo-fences. Beacons, using Bluetooth, provide location accuracy within a few metres or feet. Geo-fences leverage global positioning technology with longitude and latitude, so they are not equipped to handle multiple location services within close proximity and are better for large areas, such as public parks or large festivals.
Beacons provide accuracy within extremely close ranges. A museum, for example, could have multiple beacons in one small room. A geo-fence would only be able to provide one perimeter for the entire museum, while a beacon can provide unique notifications for multiple artifacts or objects in the same room. Also, beacons can be placed on multiple floors of a single building while a geo-fence cannot accommodate multiple heights as it only uses latitude and longitude.
Photo: Example of a geo-fence.
Photo: Example of beacons.
How to set up beacons with Info Grove
To set up a beacon with Info Grove you will first need to purchase your beacon(s) from a provider, such as Estimote Beacons. After you have your beacon in hand you can start to create your location-based content.
You will need to define a few important fields in the Info Grove backend, including the UUID, Major, Minor, and Range.
Universally Unique Identifier is a unique long number attached to a single beacon.
Are numbers assigned to your beacons in order to identify them with greater accuracy than using a UUID alone. These are also provided by the beacon provider.
Immediate, near, and far. Immediate means within a few feet, near is approximately 5-10 metres, and far being greater than 10 metres. We recommend testing near and immediate to determine the optimal location distance for notifications.
The beacons you’ve purchased should come equipped with these numbers. We recommend you follow the instructions from the beacon provider, as each may be slightly different. After you’ve entered the numbers above, place your beacon at your desired location.
Next, you will need to decide whether you want to unhide location-based content or provide a notification that links somewhere in your app.
When choosing your location link, keep in mind that you have two options. Either to unhide content (Access Type) or to send a pre-programmed notification.
For access type, you can choose between Normal, Locked, or Hidden. Normal changes nothing and does not make the content location-determined, “Locked” shows the content button but does not make it clickable/accessible until the mobile device is within range. “Hidden” does not show the content button at all until the device is within range. If you choose “Locked”, you can add a locked message, such as “This content is only available for app users located in our museum.”
If you want to send a notification instead, you can ignore the “Access type” section and add a notification. The location link you choose will be opened when app users click on the notification. Leave the location link blank if you want to open to the homepage of your app.
There are many ways to use beacons for mobile engagement. Cities can provide tours and place beacons on monuments and landmarks. Associations can place beacons within a conference to remind users to fill out a survey or provide resources, such as a schedule or speaker list. Or museums can provide a mobile tour and easily change beacons when new exhibitions are added. Creating a new mobile engagement campaign is easy with Info Grove. Click here to learn more about Info Grove and schedule a demo today.
New to Info Grove is our “Payments” feature for offering in-app purchases with a credit card. Currently, Info Grove payments integrate with Bambora and Stripe accounts.
After you’ve created your Bambora/Stripe account and 14 Oranges has enabled the integration for your application, you can begin to add products/services for sale.
Active: Toggle on and off to remove products from your store but keep product information in the backend.
Label: Label is the title of your product.
Description: Describe any relevant details about your product, such as the size of clothing, info about an event, and etc.
Category: If needed, add categories to organize your items on sale, such as events, clothing, or memberships.
Currency: Switch between Canadian and U.S. dollars.
Total Amount: Total amount after all tax and/or shipping costs.
Base Amount: The amount before tax.
Notes: Any additional notes for your sale item.
Transactional Emails: Receive email notifications for completed purchases.
Example: Event tickets
Example: Membership Sign Up
How to add products for sale in Info Grove
1) Enable the Bambora, Stripe, integrations for your entity 2) Enable data sources (v3) and enhanced form (v3) on the backend modules and for your app version 3) On the tenant entity, go to Products and create your products 3) Create a data source with a products list. Select the products that you want on this list from the “Values” button. 4) Create an enhanced form (v3) 5) On your enhanced form, select the data source that you created earlier 6) Go to Payment Providers, add your payment provider. Add in the provider specific configuration fields (API key etc – retrieve these from your test payment provider account)
How to display products for sale in Info Grove
Displaying products (as shown in the photos above) works well with a “Plain List.” The first step is to create the plain list for what you want to sell.
After filling your products in the plain list your sales page will look something like this:
After finalizing your products, product descriptions, and price information, you will need to create “module links” that create the “purchase button.” The module link will take app users from the product to the purchase page (which you’ve already created with the enhanced form.)
When creating your module links, select the product you want to sell (From module) and redirect to the purchase page for the same product (To module).
Lastly, create the name of the button, such as “Purchase” or “Buy Now”
If you are just selling one product you will need to “add a single record” on the menu management section. If you are selling the entire list of products (the plain list) you need to add the plain list view to the menu and all your products will be displayed.