a for agile

We are devoted to helping people learn, think, and create better.

We endeavour to record, study, and promote their living heritage and identity. We undertake research on the functions and values of their cultural expressions and practices.

We develop solutions to ease them through our times.

d for development

We create digital products, provide UX design services and organise industry events and workshops.

We work across business, technical, visual and marketing levels, to ensure that the final product experience does not degrade because of politics, budgets and strong personalities.

We think hard and play even harder, not only from a design perspective, but on project management and engineering aspects, mitigating risk for you (and us).

ax for analogue

em for digital

Senior Developer

what does it take

…to become a senior developer? years of experience, of course, but also

…quality building and debugging skills (can you visualise the problem and the solution before writing a single line of code?)

…solid conceptual knowledge (can you fuel a conversation at the architecture level, rather than at the low implementation level?)

…and, most of all, not require handholding (can you be trusted on your own with little oversight, or even to mentor junior co-devs?)

 

cartes postales

Print AR postcard marketing campaign for the Municipality of Syros-Hermoupolis, Greece. Sounds by Mustafa Özkent

Ad Axem Timeline

three laws

I – Our applications may not harm users, or, through inaction, allow users to come to harm

II – Our applications must obey the orders given to them by users, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law

III – Our applications must protect their own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

Adesso che il fumo cancella l'estate e il grigio ritorna scendendo su noi, la lunga vacanza si chiude per sempre pure qualcosa di noi resterà

¡yambambo!

Un Cuento para Voz, Piano y Baile danced by Yiota Peklari, performer, choreographer and teacher at the Playground and the Akropoditi Dance Centre in Syros

moving your b2b app to the web

multi-tenancy

Multi-tenancy needs to be built into all layers of your application, including the UI, the business logic and the database. Multi-tenancy requires that code execution from one customer is isolated from another and customer-specific resources are protected. Data from each customer can either be stored in a different database (least efficient), different table sets, or data can be mixed together in a single database and virtually partitioned (most efficient).

security

Your customers will need functionality to allow their own customers to access your application. Your customers’ customers will authenticate against your application to login, with restricted access to various application areas according to their roles and authorisation levels. More granular security, although mission-critical for some b2b markets, offers little strategic value and requires disproportionate amounts of debugging time.

sandbox

To properly test new functionality, you will need to deploy to a sandbox that mirrors your production environment. You will also benefit from a clearly defined process to transition accepted changes from the sandbox to your production environment. The capital investment costs for multiple infrastructures (production, testing and auxiliary) must be factored into the overall project budget.

release

To deploy new functionality and bug fixes with zero or minimal downtime, your application will have to support the absorption of new releases on the fly. Similarly, your SaaS infrastructure may require the use of cutover techniques that allow new releases to be running in parallel with old code, dynamically re-routing your customers to the newly deployed version.

migration

As your application is moved to the web, your existing customers (the people that brought you where you are today) will be upgrading sooner or later. Code should be written and extensively tested to migrate their precious data to the new architecture, handling all exceptions (new functionality added or old functionality removed) with care. This subproject alone is equivalent in size to the main web application development task.

setup

New customers will gain access to your application by subscribing online, instead of using traditional direct or channel sales. Your application will require a mechanism to seamlessly create an account for the new customer, execute all on-boarding workflows, setup network resources on your (or your outsourced) infrastructure, and grant access to the application. Never underestimate how a poorly executed web application sign-up can affect your bottom line: dropouts (drop-offs in SEO sprache) rarely come back…

Keep It Simple Stupid

6 design principles for web apps

The web comes with its own context. It is not the desktop. And while over time the lines between desktop and web blur more and more, there is still a unique aspect to creating rich interactions on the web. The following key design principles unlock these interactions and form the core of a UX framework for web applications:

  1. The direct principle or “where there is output, let there be input”. For example, instead of editing content on a separate page, do it directly in context.
  2. The lightweight principle or the need to produce a light footprint and reduce the effort required to interact with the web application. A primary way to create a light footprint is through the use of contextual tools.
  3. The in-page principle or the reduction of page refreshes which are disruptive to a user’s mental flow. Instead of assuming a page refresh for every action, we get back to modelling the user’s process. We then decide intelligently when to keep the user on the page, how to overlay information or provide information in the page flow, create dynamic content and in-page flows.
  4. The invitation principle or the primary challenge of discoverability. A feature is useless if users don’t discover it. A key way to improve discoverability is to provide invitations. Invitations cue the user to the next level of interaction.
  5. The transition principle or the powerful techniques of brighten and dim, expand and collapse, self-healing fade and spotlight.
  6. The reaction principle or “a responsive interface is an intelligent interface”. Use lively responses, including live search, live suggest, refining search, and autocomplete.

A highly recommended read on the subject, which directly inspired this post, is the book Designing Web Interfaces – Principles and Patterns for Rich Interaction by Bill Scott & Theresa Neil, available online or in print by O’Reilly

life

choose life

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Here’s a simple truth: what you think about is what you remember.
Here’s a false assumption: our memory records everything it hears and sees.

Assumptions about how participants in any event create memories, learn and remember are made all the time. These assumptions and all of the related planning about that event content and logistics are based on a mix of theories and tradition.

Take a museum tour (the event) and some museum visitors (the event participants) as an example:

We’ve assumed that the more visitors walk around passively, listening to a tour guide (alive or app-ified), the more they will remember.

We’ve assumed that the quieter the visitors are, the more they can hear and recall information.

We’ve assumed that the more content that is covered, the more the visitors learn.

So how effective are these assumptions? Using these assumptions, how much is actually retained by you, the event participant? The answer is very little, if anything at all.

What ends up in your memory is not the content presented. It is the product of what you thought about as you experienced that content. If that tour had focussed more on your previous visits to the museum (when did you come, where did you go, what did you see, how long did you stay) and had taken care of the logistics of being you, the odds are you would remember it for a long time.

And what about a two-hour concert or a music festival? The set, the visuals, the singer, the PA, the food and beverage, your seating and even how you got those tickets, everything plays a part in determining what you think about as you experience the event. This is the memory you create.

How does all this apply to you, the performing arts venue, festival, theatre, museum, gallery, conference centre or resort? Make event logistics seamless, know the who, what, when and where of every last detail, have actionable information about your customers. Offer them an unforgettable experience.

what to look for in a b2b web app

cost

Web applications should bring significant operational efficiencies and cost savings to an organisation, resulting in task automation and business process streamlining, improving your internal communications and enabling the entire organisation to access the data they need, when they need it. Using these web applications will save you time and money, leaving your staff free to focus on what they do best.

configuration

Designing web applications that are both effective and customisable should not be a trade off. Software can be highly powerful, yet as simple to configure as it is to use. Web application designers will work closely with you to gain the understanding required to fine tune your usage of their product as your business requirements evolve.

knowledge

Web application developers should have a wealth of experience in writing and supporting their software across a variety of specialised markets. They should employ staff from the industries they serve, with firsthand knowledge of the issues you face. These web application developers will be just another member of your team.

features

Web applications should feature hand-picked functionality that values how important reporting is in running an effective business. Capture data in a fast and intuitive way, make sure that it is visualised just as easily, get it back out with the minimum of effort. It must be as simple as that.

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