Categories
Critical Thinking Design Mobile Testing Software Testing Technology

Iteration and feedback

What goes into a high quality product?

It goes through many iterations but also incorporates a ton of customer feedback while it iterates. I will be talking about software development in this post with examples from my career and video games.

Video Games

What makes a high quality video game? let us compare cyberpunk 2077 with Hades and the different development approaches.

Hades

Source: TheVerge; Hades is a roguelike with hot gods to kiss and kill

The Jimquisition YouTube channel awarded Hades game of the year for 2020:

They credit the many years the game spent in beta and incorporating customer feedback along the journey as main reasons why Hades as turned into the awesome game it is.

There was never any forced “crunch” time (think overtime and sleeping under your desk) and the game has been well received by the community at large.

Cyberpunk 2077

Where as cyberpunk 2077 has been the biggest hyped up flop of a game to be released in 2020. There’s an outstanding class action lawsuit, many reports of bugs and Sony pulled the game from the ps4 store.

Yahtzee only got their review copy unlocked 1 day before release, that’s not a lot of time to incorporate any user feedback:

Big Bang releases are bad

Hades had a team of roughly 20 people, they decided to do early access in 2018 on only one platform (the Epic Game Store) before porting to other platforms. It took them about 3 years of development. Source: Wikipedia.

Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in 2012, the team started at 50 people and grew to 500. It was released on all platforms at once and subsequently pulled from the ps4 store. Source: Wikipedia.

With all of the money, time and resources behind cyberpunk 2077 you think they’d able to release a solid game. However big bang releases and expensive projects don’t always get released as planned.

Pick one platform

If you are looking to develop a mobile app or website, pick one platform to learn and iterate on. Don’t start with an Android app + iOS app + Web app only to learn you built the wrong product. Depending on your situation you might pick one platform over the other.

When I was working at Tyro and we were working towards our banking licence, we built an iOS app first for managing your business bank account. Android came after we got our licence and a web banking experience wasn’t even on the tables by the time I left.

Incorporate feedback

My current team released version 1.0 of our app in March in 2020, we’ve since done monthly releases and incorporated customer feedback into each release. This has been a great way of starting with a basic app and fleshing out the features to be the best superannuation app on the market (look I’m biased).

Keep an eye on the app store

Tyro is still doing pretty well on the app store, especially compared to something like the myGovID app which has a similar number of ratings.

Delivering quality products

You don’t need a giant team or lots of $ to build high quality products. If you start small and incorporate feedback it’ll be money better spent than a big bang approach.

Check out :

to read more about my approach to quality and mobile apps.

Categories
Design Presenting Technology

Clean Desk Porn

With the whole work from home situation I’ve spent some time tweaking my desk set up to make it more ergonomic. This blog will go through my set up, purchases and learnings along the way.

Today’s final desk set up.

Today’s Desk Hardware

  • MacBook Pro (work machine)
  • Windows PC
  • Mac Mini
  • KVM Switch
  • Logitech G105 keyboard
  • Razer Basilisk mouse + pad
  • Vertical laptop stand
  • Monitor arm
  • Acer G245H 24 inch Monitor
  • Selfie stick/phone mount
  • Bose Headset
  • Logitech c920 Webcam
  • Webcam arm
  • Rode podcaster MKII microphone
  • Rode microphone arm + shockmount
  • Astro A10 headset
  • Lamp
  • Samsung S10
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone XR (work’s test phone)
  • iPhone 6 (work phone)
  • Microsoft Surface

I’ve bought most of this equipment second hand, over the last 2-3 years.

The windows machine was built from second hand parts and hand me downs from my partner (they upgraded their graphics card and gave me their old one). The surface/bose headset are also hand me downs from my partner too.

The Mac Mini, mouse, webcam, laptop stand, desk arms, a10 headset and samsung s10 were purchased new.

Here’s the cable’s under the desk (it’s still a little messy):

My tiny bedroom

My room is tiny, I can fit a single bed and a desk and that’s about it. Adjusting to work from home was hard for me. My apartment is freezing and I don’t have a lot of space.

When I first moved in this was my set up.

I live in a 2 bedroom apartment in Crows Nest, it’s 6km from the Sydney city centre and before the pandemic I would occasionally walk into work. Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic way to start the day.

My share of the rent is $210 per week. I charge a little more for the larger room. I have an obsession with tiny houses, hence my loft bed arrangement.

Working from the lounge room

Earlier on in the pandemic I was working from the couch/bar table. The lounge was more comfortable and there was a better heater in there:

However the issue with this set up was shoulder/ankle pain from a poor sitting arrangement and not exercising enough.

All of the heating equipment

To keep warm during winter, I bought an electric blanket, an electric throw rug and an oil heater for my bedroom. Sydney can get cold in winter. It’s almost as if our houses here aren’t built for the cold.

You can see the electric throw rug under the desk. The cat approves of the electric rug.

Upgraded equipment along the way

I upgraded my computer chair and monitors more recently. They were still second hand equipment, I needed a mountable monitor which my previous monitors didn’t support. A KVM switch allowed me to downgrade to just one monitor output for 2 computers.

Future improvements

One of the issues I have is the webcam is a little blue when I record with it. I think getting a mirrorless DSLR camera would be better for filming video but that’s an upgrade I don’t want to make just yet.

I might just film on one of the smart phones in the mean time

Also considering when I create videos, my desktop screen share takes up more real estate and my web cam is just a small part of the video.

Having a portable set up would be nice

When I’ve filmed from my partners place this is the set up I’ve used:

Standing desk made out of board games

However OBS is a challenge to get working on a mac environment consistently. Hence why I prefer to record from a windows machine. I’ve tried setting up the surface as a mobile set up. It doesn’t have enough grunt and I think there was a config set up issue when I tried.

I’ll leave you with a few more clean desk porn shots:

My set up earlier on in the pandemic, before the KVM switch and monitor mount
Here’s the coveted pussy shot.
Maybe a not so clean desk, sometimes being a mobile tester can get a little ridiculous
Much better, you can read more about how to set up a homemade charging station here

Have you tweaked your WFH desk arrangement since the pandemic came along?

Categories
Design Finances Technology

Review of Finance Apps

I’m studying to be a financial advisor and I’ve been exploring many of the mobile apps out there that can be used to help manage finances. This post is a review of the ones I’ve used so far. My preferred apps are listed first.

This is NOT financial advice or a product recommendation, a professional can help you if you have any concerns about your finances.

I own shares in CBA, Westpac, Eggy & Tyro. This represents a vested interest.

Budgeting Apps

I prefer using a simple Google sheet to manage my budget, however money brilliant looks pretty and Up bank has a cute little budget tool built into it too.

Commbank gets in honourable mention because their upcoming bills feature has helped me keep on top of expenses due to come out of my bank in the next few days.

Many of these apps have a bank feed import feature and they can miss label transactions/categories and it can be frustrating to fix.

You can read more about how I manage my budget here.

Google Sheet
Up Bank
Money Brilliant
Commbank – upcoming bills
CommBank – category budget

Life Admin Apps

These apps aren’t strictly budget related but can help you with your budget through helping with life admin. With reminders for upcoming bills and connecting with financial advisors.

I own shares in Eggy via Birchal.

Eggy
MyProsperity

Banking Apps

I love Up Banks branding and personality. They also have an ok interest based savings account and an auto round up saving feature on transactions. Westpac has a 3% interest for anyone under 30.

Otherwise most of my banking is done through CommBank. I have used a variety of other banking apps but they are all kinda similar. 86 400 has a bank feed integration feature and a decent predictive bills feature which is cool.

The bank card I received from Xinja was the funnest card that I received:

Xinja
Up Bank
86 400

Business Banking

If you need to do EFTPOS/credit card processing as part of your business Tyro is cool. I worked on their mobile app a few years ago. Otherwise I use commbank as my main business account because the fees are cheaper than westpac.

Tyro

Investment Apps

Learning to invest

CommSec pocket is great if you are learning to invest and has a minimum investment of $50, but the fees can be expensive. Raiz has an auto roundup on bank transactions for the purposes of investing which is nifty.

Setting up automatic investments into an index fund is a great way to get started. You can read more about how I built up my own portfolio by investing a small amount each pay.

CommsecPocket
Raiz

Education

I’ve installed both Finimix and Forex Portal for learning purposes. I’m not sure if they are useful yet. More time will tell.

Building a portfolio

Most of my portfolio is held in CommSec (minimum initial investment $500). BrickX isn’t a mobile app but their website is mobile friendly and I’ve been using the platform to learn about property investment. BrickX may not be great if you need to liquidate those investment quickly though.

CommSec
BrickX

International Investing

I don’t have a large portfolio with Stake but it’s a clean looking app for US stock market trading. Just watch out for the foreign currency conversion fees, fast processing times will cost you.

Otherwise most of my international investing is via index funds traded via Commsec.

Stake

Managed portfolios

This is starting to get towards the bigger end of town in terms of minimum investments. If you have a larger portfolio these options might be worth considering. These products aren’t all mobile apps but they have very attractive web portfolios for checking this stuff while on the go.

Spaceship

I don’t have much invested in spaceship but their managed portfolio has exploded recently mostly due to US tech companies doing exceptionally well during the pandemic.

Maybe these tech stocks are now overpriced? Who knows, the markets aren’t very predictable. You can read more on my adventure with investing during a crisis.

Superannuation Apps

Super Apps

I’m biased, the mobile app that I’ve been working on for the last 1.5 years is the best one here. However Sunsuper is my main super and I like Aware super. Grow is also pretty but it was confusing to use at first.

You can read more about superannuation mobile apps here.

Colonial First State
SunSuper
Aware Super
Grow Super

What apps do you use for your finances? What features do you like the most? What’s been frustrating?

If you are interested in learning more about finances, I highly recommend checking out the My Millenial Money podcast.

Categories
Agile Design Finances Mobile Testing Software Testing Technology

Metrics and Quality

The superannuation and investment mobile app I’ve been working on over the last year has finally been released. It’s been on the app store for just over a month now* and this blog is about how we are using metrics to help keep tabs on the quality of our app.

*You can download the app via google play or the apple app store, you can also create an account here.

Average app store rating

The average app store rating is one useful metric to keep track of. We are aiming to keep it above 4 stars and we are also monitoring the feedback raised for future feature enhancement ideas. I did an analysis of the average app store reviews of other superannuation apps here to get a baseline of what the industry average is. If we are better than the industry average, we have a good app.

Analytics in mobile apps

We are using Adobe Analytics for tracking page views and interactions for our web and mobile app. On previous mobile app teams I’ve used mParticle and mixpanel. The framework here doesn’t matter, I’ve found adobe workspace to be a great tool for insights, once you know how to use it. Also Adobe has tons of online web tutorials for building out your own dashboards.

App versions over time

Here’s our app usage over time broken down by app version:

We have version 1.1 on the app store and released 1.0 nearly 2 months ago. We did an internal beta release with version 0.5.0. If anyone on the old versions tries to log in they’ll see a forced update view.

Crash Rates

Crashes are a fact of life with any mobile app team, there are so many different variables that go into app crashes. However keeping track of them and aiming for low rates is a good thing to measure.

With version 1.1 we improved our crash rates on android from 2.77% to 0.11%. You can use a UI exerciser that is called monkey from the command line in your android emulator to try and find more crashes too. With the following command I can send a 1000 random UI events to the emulator:

adb shell monkey -p {mobile_app_package_name} -v 1000

Crashes in App Centre

We can dive a bit deeper into crashes in app centre (a Microsoft based platform that integrates with our team city continuous integration pipeline for managing all of our test builds).

When exploring stack traces you want to look for lines that reference your app (instead of getting lost in all of the framework code), look for lines that start with your apps package name.

App Centre gives reports based on device and operating system break down:

With analytics set up, you can even dig into an individual report and get the page views that happened before that crash occurred.

What’s a good crash rate?

That depends on the context of your app, ideally zero is the best but perfect software is a myth we keep trying to obtain. As long as it’s trending downwards you are making progress towards improving it. Here’s a good follow up blog post if you are interested in reading more.

Error Tracking

I can also keep on eye on how many error messages are seen. The spike in the android app error messages was me throwing the chaos monkey at out production build for a bit. However when there is both a spike in android and iOS, I know I can ask, “was there something wrong with our backend that day?”

Test Vs Prod – page views

If every page has one event being tracked, we can compare our upcoming release candidate against production; say we see that 75 page views were triggered on the test build and we compare this to the 100 page views we can see in production. We can then say we’ve tested 75% of the app and haven’t seen any issues so far.

This is great for measuring the effectiveness of bug bashes/exploratory testing sessions. If you want an answer to, “how much testing did you/the team do?”.

Hang on, why 75%?

There’s no need to aim for 100% coverage, our unit tests do cover every screen but because they run on the internal CI network those events are never sent to adobe. We have over 500 unit/UI tests on both android and iOS (not that number of tests is a good metric, it’s an awful one by the way).

But if you’ve tested the main flows through your app and that’s gotten you 50% or 75% coverage you are now approaching diminishing returns. What’s the chances in finding a new bug? Or a new bug that someone cares about?

You could spend that extra hour or two getting to 90-95% but you could also be doing more useful stuff with your time. You should read my risk based framework if you are interested in finding out more.

Measuring Usability

If you are working on a new feature or flow of your app, you can measure how many people actually complete the task. E.g. first time log in, how many people actually log in successfully? How many people lock their accounts? If you are trying to improve this process you can track to see if the rates improve or decline.

You could also measure satisfaction after a task is completed and ask for feedback, a quick out of 5 score along the lines of, “did this help you? was it easy to achieve?”. You can put a feedback section somewhere in your app.

The tip of the iceberg

These metrics and insights I’ve shared with you are just a small subset of everything we are tracking. And is a small part of our overall test strategy. Adobe has been useful for digging down into mobile device’s and operating systems breakdowns too. There’s many ways you can cut the data to provide useful information.

What metrics have you found useful for your team and getting a gauge on quality? What metrics didn’t work as well as you had hoped?

This is not financial advice and the views expressed in this blog are my own. They are not reflective of my employers views

Categories
Design Mobile Testing Software Testing Technology

Right To Left design considerations for mobile apps

We truly live in a global and inter connected society. But have you tested your app using a Right to Left (RTL) language such as Arabic? This blog post is a reflection on some of the design considerations to keep in mind when accomodating this.

Why does this matter?

Arabic is one of the top 5 spoken languages in the world with around 3 hundred million speakers and it is the third most spoken language in Australia. Even if you only release apps for the Australian market someone out there will have Arabic set as their default device language. It’s ok if you haven’t translated your app, but you should check that these people can still use it.

How do I test this?

Android

Enable developer options and select “Force RTL layout direction”. On My Samsung S10 this is what my screen and options look like after enabling this option:

iOS

In Xcode you can change the build target language to a Pseudo RTL language to see how your app renders in this way without having to change the language on your device.

Number pads

You don’t actually need to render your key pads in Right To Left, in fact it’s actually more jarring to render numbers in a RTL arrangement because ATM’s and phone pads are left to right in Arabic. Most Arab’s are use to globalised number pads. Samsung has an in-depth article on when RTL should be applied.

When I have RTL rendering set on my android phone, the log in pin screen and phone call functionality is in LTR. However some of my banking apps render their pin pads in RTL.

Common RTL Issues

I was pleasantry surprised to find out how many of my apps weren’t broken when I switched to RTL rendering. Facebook, twitter and email still look very good. Some apps (like my calculator) do not make sense to render RTL and they remain LTR:

Bug One: Overlapping labels

You will have to watch out for when labels overlap like in the domain app here:

Bug Two: Visuals doesn’t match written language

And when your text is rendered RTL but the visual cue is still LTR like in the shade bar for representing countries visitors to my blog in this wordpress statistics view:

Bug Three: Menu’s that animate from the side

In the app I’m helping build, the side menu renders pretty funkily in RTL mode, I can’t show you a screenshot of this behaviour but it’s probably the quirkiest RTL bug I’ve seen. If you find an app with bad side menu behaviour in RTL please share your screenshots with me. I’ve also seen a pin login screen where the icons where flipped but the button presses weren’t.

Bug Four: Icon’s aren’t flipped

Often icon’s have a direction associated with them like the walking person when you get google maps directions. Sometimes it can look a little odd when they aren’t flipped correctly (as if they are walking backwards).

Have you seen these bugs before?

Please let me know your thoughts or experiences in supporting RTL languages. I’d love to hear your stories.

Categories
depression Design mental health Sustainability

Co-Housing

I’m binge watching youtube video’s, as I do when I’m doing nothing on the weekend and I stumble on this TED talk on co-housing:

This got me thinking of all of the different types of houses I’ve lived in over the years and I’d thought I share my stories and experiences with them.

My personal values are (I can actually use the mnemonic CASE to remember them);

  • Community
  • Adding value
  • Sustainability
  • Experiences over things

Living in sharehousing/cohousing actually aligns with my all of my core values in some way.

Student Housing in Sweden

I lived in Sweden as an exchange student for a year between 2009-2010. I lived in a corridor in a student housing complex. Each corridor had 13 separate bedroom & bathroom units and a central kitchen/lounge room that was shared amongst the 13 corridor tenants. Each floor had 2 corridors and most buildings 4 levels.

Stereotypical floor plan for a corridor

This student complex had a building for every letter of the alphabet. There was a communial laundry for every few buildings in the basement. The gym was in building A:

Google street view of the buildings and gym in the student complex DELPHI
Here’s a satellite view of that complex

I lived in a Swedish corridor that only had 2 international student rooms. I’m really grateful for this mix because another corridor in our building was all international students. In my mind this was close to pretty much ideal living situations for a student. I had never felt this socially connected before. If there wasn’t a party happening somewhere in Delphi there was another student complex up the road that someone else knew where a party was happening.

Costs

Rent for this accommodation equated to about $125 AUD a week and included nearly everything. It was very reasonable and within my means being on government payments even though I didn’t receive rent assistance. I was getting around $375 AUD every two weeks from study allowance. My only extra bill was internet which was crazy cheap and fast (roughly $10 AUD per month for a basic 200GB package that had fast fibre speeds)

Drawbacks

The only drawback I experienced in this situation was because I was only there for a year, I couldn’t personalise my space as much as my local Swedish neighbours could.

Variety of share houses

I’ve lived in a variety of share houses since then. While finishing uni I lived in around 5 different situations. Rents were between $60 AUD to $130 per week. I lived with a lady from Bangladesh and her two kids in a tiny apartment in Sandy Bay, in a old 3 story brick house in Glebe, an out the back granny flat in Glenorchy and a huge old house in Taroona.

Taroona

Taroona was my cheapest share house but they came with some big problems. The house it self was huge. It was a two storey 3 bedroom house with a second loungeroom downstairs. We converted the downstairs loungeroom into a 4th bedroom. The total rent for the house was $270 per week. We had split the rent to between $60 to $80 per week per room. Only thing is the house came with a troll.

The troll of Taroona

There was a granny flat underneath half the house and it was occupied by a single guy. He was the troll in our house. He would bang on our floor when when we were being “too loud”, fill our house with the stink of weed, have random burnoffs in the back yard, have loud aggressive arguments with his ex misses about shared custody of their kid. He made living in this house very hard.

Drawbacks

Another drawback to this place was one of my house mates was struggling with rent. Another housemate would vouch for him but he kept getting further and further behind. I ended up leaving that house with this person owing me over $1000 in food, rent and shared bills. I’ve never seen any of this money and I have never spoken to this person since then.

Communal Housing in Bland Street, Ashfield

Since moving to Sydney at the start of 2014 I’ve lived in about 9 different places. I haven’t had a lot of stability in my living arrangements. One of the more interesting places has become a old Victorian era town house converted into a communal community house in Ashfield, also known as Bland St. This house had around 11 bedrooms and 20-ish residents.

Sense of Community

I love the sense of community in this situation. I would often cook communal meals and had gardening and home brewing projects with a lot of the residents. I baked so many brownies. The average demographic was between 18-25 so I was a bit on the older side and most people were working holiday visa types. The house is always changing it’s personality.

Share rooms in Sydney

In Bland St most rooms were shared 2 person (usually strangers) per room. Sydney is ripe with this type of arrangement because rent is so dam expensive. I was paying between $150-$225 (ish) per week depending on the room arrangements and location. I’ve lived in this type of situation in Darlinghurst, China Town, Pyrmont and Ashfield.

Drawbacks

The main drawback to co-sharing a room is the disrupted sleep. My depression gets when I don’t get enough sleep. The young vibe of Bland Street meant I felt like I drank too much alcohol, I still feel that now but at least I’ve reduced the social drinking urge.

Co Housing in the future?

It seems that co-housing in Sydney is starting to open up. For example apparently we opened our first co-housing in September this year. Only thing is, the rent for this is incredible expensive ($525 per week). I currently pay $300 per week for a my own room in a 2 bedroom apartment in Wollstonecraft. It’s a stone throws away from the train station. $350 is my maximum budget that I’m willing to spend on renting in Sydney.

Tiny Housing

Tiny house that comes with a green house 

I have an obsession with tiny houses. I have a loft bed in my bedroom. it’s pretty cool. I love the idea of tiny housing and being efficient with space. Small housing also has less environmental impacts, requires less resources to maintain and all that stuff. It’s been really nice to furnish my own room with second hand furniture and to experiment with space saving ideas. 

My ideal living arrangements

Is probably a share house communal living arrangement. I would love to live in something like I did in Sweden where I can furnish my own space but partake in communal cooking. I’d love to live in a place with an easy to access community garden. It’ll probably be apartment based if I was in a city like Sydney or maybe wooden cabins based if I had my own land in Tasmania. I want something that’s nicely designed as opposed the regular cheap as possible option often seen here in Sydney.

What would be your ideal living arrangements?

Categories
Breweries Craft Beer Design Marketing

Hop Nation & Two Birds breweries

I was in Melbourne for a conference yesterday. I arrived during the weekend and I spent my Sunday evening exploring two local breweries and tasting craft beer. It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday in my mind. The first one on my list was Hop Nation. Second was Two Birds. This blog will go through the atmosphere and beer tasting of these two breweries.

Hop Nation brewery

https://goo.gl/maps/V8RWA7eHCdm

The Atmosphere

This is the first time I’ve been to a brewery that felt more like a barn than a big industrial shed. The exposed brick is a pleasant change from the big shed feel. The building was built in the 1880’s and was originally used as a whale fat candle and wax factory. There was extra seating upstairs and big “stained glass” paintings which gave the feel of a church. I believe the idol of worship here is the humble beer. Considering their slogan is, “in hops we trust” the theming feels on point.

The Beer

Having 15 tap options is an impressive amount to choose from. Hop Nation specialise in hoppy beers (Who da though it?) but they do experiment with other styles. There’s plenty here to tickle your fancy. I’m not a huge fan of Hoppy beers, I’ve been drinking craft beer for 7 odd years now and it’s taken me this long to start to aprreciate the IPA (which stands for Indian Pale Ale). Basically if you see IPA on a beer just assume it will be hoppy and bitter.

Malibu Stacey – milkshake IPA sounds interesting. I had one from a can a few weeks ago. The sweetness comes from adding lactose into the beer post fermentation. Lactose is a non fermentable sugar that adds sweetness without being fermented into alcohol. It’s weird at first but drinkable once tastes are adjusted. Other milkshake flavours can be added to bring out different flavour profiles. 

Beer Tasting

The Punch – Mango Gose

I like a good sour beer, this one was my favourite out of the tasting paddle. It wasn’t over fruity or over sour and it was nice to kick off a pretty heavy paddle with this one.

Jedi Juide – NEIPA

Hop Nation is probably best known for this beer. NEIPA stands for New England Indian Pale Ale. This beer doesn’t have much to do with England or India and is more of an American invention. These beers usually use fruitier hops, tend to be cloudier than other IPA’s and I feel like they can be a good introduction to the hoppier styles of beer. This one was a bit offensive to begin with (most IPA’s are). I probably wouldn’t use this beer as an introductionary NEIPA. Once accustomed to the hoppy taste it went down easy enough.

The Dawn – Double NEIPA

Another offensive IPA. Once you get past the initial shock of the bitterness it was easy enough to drink. Watch out for that 9 percent alcohol though, you wouldn’t want to drive after having a pint of this stuff.

2018 Kalash – Russian Imperial Stout

I like a dark beer. However getting a strong russian imperial stout that feels easy to drink can be challenging. It’s easy for these beers to feel over powering because of the high alcohol content. This one will kick you in the teeth on your first sip before you are able to settle in to enjoy it.

Blonde Melange – Golden Sour

I also had a sample of the sour beer on my way out. I probably shouldn’t have done this after a Russian Imperial Stout; but I’ll say, “Forgive me father because I have sinned”, and I believe this venue will forgive me. This was more of a sour lemon pucker up type of beer. Not for the faint of heart if this isn’t your style.

Two Birds brewery

https://goo.gl/maps/Wii6iS7jEBy

The Atmosphere

This feels more industrial compared to Hop Nation. The artwork on the wall adds a nice touch. There is this huge bridge you can see from the banks of where this brewery is. It was pretty quite on a Sunday evening, maybe daylight savings had an impact on this?

The Beer

There’s another impressive selection of 12 taps here with a variety of styles to choose from. I went to a Two Birds dinner and beer party at the Kirriblli Pub for the Sydney Beer week last year when they were first launching passion victim. You won’t find many IPA’s on their menu; their beers are more geared towards the easy drinking with family and friends on a weekend backyard BBQ with some experimental flavours thrown in.

Taco Beer

Their taco beer is always a good introductionary craft beer that sounds very gross but is pleasantly nice. They’ve changed the recipe recently so I thought it was worth trying again in this tasting paddle. It’s easy to drink, light and refreshing.

Sakura Sour

Look at the colour of this beer. It’s just amazing. This one is done with a sake yeast. I’d say it borders on the pucker up sour but it’s not going to make you screw your face up on first sip.

Hibiscus Saison

Again there’s an amazing colour for this beer and it smelt amazing. This one was my favourite that I sampled on this paddle. I enjoyed sipping this beer while I read my book in the brewery.

Irish Red IPA

This beer doesn’t look like a red IPA, it’s pretty dark in colour. It wasn’t offensive for an IPA which is always a pleasant surprise

Spring Saison

I finished my beer adventures with this farmhouse ale. Saison is my preferred style and this was a good beer to finish on. It was one of the least “pucker up sour” beers I’d had all night. It is a crisp and dry with wine-like characters.

Summing it all up

I really enjoyed checking out both Hop Nation and Two Birds breweries. I got very toasty sitting in breweries and ready a good book. I’m not going to go out of my way for a Hop Nation beer any time soon, hoppy beers aren’t my style but I’ll always grab a new two birds sour if I see one.

Categories
Design Marketing Sustainability

Lessons in Branding : HelloFresh

In a world of time poor families and social media every where; HelloFresh is nailing their branding.

I got my first HelloFresh box this morning. I really like the idea; a food subscription with fresh ingredients delivered to your door with recipes to make for easy meal prep at home. I think their branding is just top notch:

Image Source: https://flic.kr/p/ToXrwp

I’m going to walk you through my unboxing experience while I delve into the branding behind it.

Unboxing & Recipe Cards

Woo the box, each recipe actually came in separate brown paper bags
My box came with 5 recipes
Here is the back of one of those cards, pictures make it easy to follow

Leveraging Technology

HelloFresh has a sleek website that was easy to use and an app that pairs with their product offering. I haven’t used their app but having that digital way to plan meal preps sounds like a good idea for them. You should leverage technology as part of your marketing campaigns as much as possible. If I had discovered bugs with my first ordering experience I would have viewed the overall product with less favor. The on boarding experience here is super important to get right especially when you are pairing a physical product with a digital offering.

Product Idea

Hello Fresh could sell a binder and each recipe card could have a 2-3 punch hole on the side to add to the binder. It would be an easy way to keep the physical cards. They are so nicely put together it would be a shame to toss them. It would be similar to the magazine subscriptions I use to have back in the day:

Source: http://www.modernbookbinders.com/

Aggressive marketing

I see HelloFresh everywhere; at least in Sydney they frequently have reps on the street giving out vouchers. I’m sure I have 2 floating around somewhere. Even the box comes with coupons to share with your network. Partnerships are important. If you had a similar product to HelloFresh and partnered with them to give out a coupon code on their next delivery cycle you’d get a reasonable amount of reach. Postal marketing is seeing a resurgence lately.

Good branding needs good marketing to support it.

They also have an instagram photo competition (#HelloFreshAU) going on to engage customers around their brand. What marketing tactics have you seen HelloFresh use that you’ve also tried?

Will I continue with it?

Short answer, probably not. I had 80% of my stomach surgically removed for weight loss surgery 2 years ago. I can only eat tiny meals now and I need to focus on protein first. I would waste some food on this program because the protein to everything else ratio doesn’t suit my dietary needs. I also enjoy researching my own recipes and perusing fresh food markets on weekends to get ideas for meal prep. The convenience doesn’t sell me because I am a foodie at heart and love putting my own research into food. I do think this company is doing an awesome job at branding.