Design & Development, Responsive Design, Rails,
Logo Design & Branding, Email Design, Copywriting,
jQuery, CSS animation, Art Direction, Server Administration

An open-source web app
built in Rails

Job-hunting is hard. Suitor is a web app that aims to make it easier. A labour of love, Suitor is very much a work-in-progress, but gives me an opportunity to wear many hats and try lots of new things. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about UI design, Rails development, project management, marketing, infrastructure, and user-centred design.

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UI design

Suitor was an opportunity to explore more complex UI problems, and I’ve learned a great deal doing so. Since I use the app myself, it’s easy to identify problematic areas, and iterate on them rapidly. I approach every new feature by considering the user’s needs first. I’ve tried to craft every aspect of the app—from the colours and patterns, to the typography, to the error messages—to give Suitor a personality that’s friendly, supportive, and calming. (Job hunting is stressful enough!)

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This is where it gets a little meta

When I started my job hunt, I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a good way to keep track of the jobs I applied to. Naturally, when I couldn’t find a good solution, I took a break from the job hunt and built one myself.

Infrastructure & development

A great deal of the back-end code was written by me, but I work closely with a developer, particularly for some of the more complicated aspects of the code. Every feature is code reviewed before being merged into the master branch. Working in tandem ensures that all changes are contained within concise and logical feature branches—with tests to boot!

Server administration

My aim with Suitor was to start testing sooner rather than later, so I’d be able to identify problems sooner. This meant that as soon as I had a barebones app built, I tasked myself with getting it online. After some deliberation, I set up a VPS, installed and configured everything I needed, then set up Capistrano to automate deploys. It took a bit of trial and error, but I now have a stable server setup that's a cinch to deploy or roll back.

Email design

I quickly realized that email would be a vital part of Suitor’s success, and spent a great deal of time coding like it was 1999. I learned to use Mandrill and integrate with my existing MailChimp account, test and streamline mail templates in Rails, and fully customize emails sent via Devise and custom ActiveRecord modules. I carefully tailored a series of friendly introductory emails for beta testers and ensured that all emails sent out—either by Rails or by MailChimp—would be consistent in look and feel across a variety of email clients—and responsive as well!

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Next up

Since it’s open-source, I keep track of to-do items and planned features on GitHub. I’ve already developed a rough dashboard, allowing users an at-a-glance view of their progress and statistics, but I’d like to revamp this, as well as improving the empty-state UI so as to encourage users to start making use of the app. I’m working on getting more feedback from beta users in the coming months, and iterating on that feedback so as to make the app as usable as possible.

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