Building one of the largest Meteor apps in production
Workpop hired us in January 2015 to help build their Meteor web application. In six weeks, one of our developers delivered an outstanding mobile responsive experience for the entire Workpop web property. Workpop loved the results and asked if we could bring a second developer and extend working for a longer period. After eight more months we are pleased to have been able to ship a number of complex features for their team and slingshot them closer to their goal of helping everyone find a job they love.
Why Meteor is the right framework to build a company on
Why does Meteor help our team iterate quickly?
To over-simplify: it lets you not do a lot of things. Over the lifetime of a long project, the framework will save dev teams tons of time hooking up various components because Meteor is a complete platform. You write less code due to Meteor’s reactive programming framework. The same code runs from the client to the cloud and across browsers and mobile devices; one code base for iOS, Android and web.
With 7000+ packages, the open source community is also a massive aid to the level of efficiency Meteor provides. More are added and current ones are improved daily significantly reducing time it would otherwise take to develop various plugins or modules.
Trinity Ventures who have funded Workpop were quoted as saying that Workpop has
“the most rapid prototyping, iteration and development we’ve seen from an early stage company,”
That’s the power of Meteor in a nutshell.
In November 2014 I woke up to find an email from Workpop. It explained that their team was doing something disruptive in the hiring space but needed some more bandwidth. A call or two later we had a good understanding of their immediate needs and were able to dive right in.
When Workpop contacted us, they were already working on native mobile apps. According to the data, they were increasingly receiving a larger portion of traffic to their web application via mobile devices. The problem was the web app did not support mobile. The implication here is that creating a clean, responsive web experience would prevent more users from bouncing due to bad UI and would lead to more engagement, sign-ups, customers, etc.
When we dove into the code, we noticed immediately that Workpop’s web interface was complex and uncompromising with a lot of custom controls. They needed more than simple CSS changes to work well on mobile.
Our lead designer Karl noticed immediately that he would have to invest a good bit of thought into creating the right UI paradigm. He was going to have to work backwards from desktop to conceptualize the mobile experience.
Designing for mobile meant that Karl would have plan how to break features and information down to create a hierarchy as the screen size shrunk down from desktop size to tablet or mobile.
This meant sorting information from most to least relevant and hiding the slightly less relevant information as the screen size shrunk. All this is done keeping in mind that the user has to easily find data, buttons or images that moved.
To ensure we minimized the variation in UI between native mobile and mobile web we also re-designed a number of buttons like “apply,” to look similar to native.
We finished up the responsive redesign in 6 weeks. Workpop was happy with the results, publicly praising our lead developer Karl. This opened the door for us to engage in an 8-month relationship that gave our team time to ship several features under specific release deadlines.
Some interesting items we delivered in that time were: the ability to schedule candidate availability, the entire job applicant flow, and the candidate review process. From the beginning of this engagement we were given almost full control on mobile web. We find it necessary to have that kind of trust in order for our product team to really shine. Our development team was able to help Workpop release a new version every Monday: 32 major releases in 8 months.
Part of delivering the best product to us also means working closely and comfortably with our clients. Workpop gave us access to join their daily stand-ups meetings, let us hang out in their Slack channel and even invited us to venture down to Santa Monica for a bit to work right in their office.
We solved some interesting technical challenges for Workpop including full-text search. This meant reorganizing their data into a format that was searchable in the database we were using. Full-text search lets users search a text document in a more natural way taking into account the nuances of the english language. Here is a more in-depth look at what we did with full-text search.
Finally we did quite a bit of refactoring. Our developers like to clean up code, improve the architecture and make future improvements simpler for our clients’ teams.
The project ran exceptionally smoothly and we were able to deliver tremendous value for Workpop. It’s in projects like this that we can fully appreciate the Meteor framework. It helped our dev team release quickly and often. Without it, only a fraction of what we built would have been accomplishable.
You can find information on full text search and cool packages we’ve put together in our GitHub repository or read about it on our blog.
Meet the OK GROW! team on Workpop:
Karl Danninger; Project Lead / Developer Richard Gould; Developer
Say hello anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.