Joe: Hi, I’m Joe Welinske from Blink. I’m
meeting with some of the many presenters who will be at our ConveyUX event coming up in
Seattle in February. I’m meeting today with Jumana Al Hashal.
Hello Jay. How are you? Jay: Hi, good to see you again Joe.
Joe: Where are you speaking to us from today? Jay: I am speaking to you from snowy Seattle,
downtown Seattle. The Zillow office is on the 31st floor of the Russell Investment Building.
Joe: All right. If you’re not familiar with Jay, she is the Mobile Development Manager
at Zillow. She’s responsible for their core mobile product strategy, design and development.
She graduated from Macalester College and then took her graduate studies here in Seattle,
at the University of Washington, for a Masters of Communications and Digital Media.
Her topic at the conference is Building Products On The Cutting Edge Of Mobile. Why don’t you
give us a little taste of that Jay? Jay: Absolutely. The team that I help lead
her is the Android and IOS mobile teams, building the best real estate and rental applications
for Zillow. Being a company like Zillow that’s a technology-loving company and who loves
being out on the edge, the team is moving very fast. We get to learn a lot. We get to
do a lot. Over the past few years, we’ve developed a
few strategies for how to deal with this continuous change in these platforms. The number of devices
is exploding. The number of technologies that you can incorporate within our new applications
is exploding. These devices are coming against all these traditional design and technology
paradigms that we grew up learning. It’s no longer sufficient to just have personas with
the long tail of users that is available for example … That now have access to your products.
With the amount of information that you have on your users, you can personalize these experiences
almost down to the individual, which is something that goes against just defining a few personas
and trying to serve those, but can still help you define what you prioritize from a business
perspective. The opportunity to serve each user individually is just huge. The challenge
is also moving from optimizing just an experience on a screen, a singular experience, to optimizing
a more fluid experience, going into the experience of a mobile device and going out of experience
into a different channel or into a cross-channel onto the same platform.
What we’re going to be doing in the session is telling you a little bit more about our
experiences from the trenches, as it were, what has the mobile team at Zillow learned,
what strategies are we employing for design, for content and for development. I talk a
little bit more about trends we’re seeing, trends we think are going to be big and how
can you basically prepare your team and yourself for a landscape of development that is continuously
shifting from underneath you. Joe: One of the things that I wanted to ask
you about was in actually testing your designs with devices, how do you do that? Do you work
with an inventory of actual devices? Do you do things with virtual devices? What’s your
strategy for that? Jay: Our strategy for testing is multi-tiered
really. We do different kinds of tests. The number one thing we advocate for is try to
get as much of the infrastructure automated as possible. Anything on the API level, we
have automated. Anything on the services level, we have automated. Recently, within the UI
level, we have introduced automation through a framework called Apium, which helps us validate
that we did not break anything that we have not touched basically this release. This set
of automations that we wrote on Apium can either be deployed in the device lab that
we have here inside of Zillow. They can be run on machines, on simulators, and there
are companies that offer services where you can upload your tests and run them all on
a suite of different devices. Another thing that we like to use, which Google Play provides,
is the ability to do incremental rollouts. You roll out only an alpha group, a beta group,
to 5% of your population, 10% of your population, and learn as you go.
Another important part of our testing, and a regular part of our release cycle, is usability
testing, which we do with pretty much with every new feature, to see how the users are
reacting to it, are there any major pitfalls. In addition to all the initial design vetting
that we do in house and heuristic evaluations of the designs, we end up doing a usability
test pretty much before every release and regular benchmark testing.
Joe: All right. Great. Thanks for spending a few minutes talking about this with us.
We will talk more at the conference coming up in February.
Jay: I’ll look forward to it. Thank you so much.
Joe: Thank you.