The core business of Terrible Labs is to help our clients design and develop great products that solve real problems. In order remain a top consulting shop, our job is to know the best practices and the right technology to leverage when it comes to design and development.
Since starting Terrible Labs nearly three years ago, we’ve struggled to come up with the right strategy to balance the learning required to remain a top design and development shop and billable client work to keep the lights on.
Thanks to the Terrible Thomas Mayfield, we’ve instituted Project Weeks to help our team invest in making themselves better. A project week is a scheduled developer/designer week of time where the sole focus is to complete an open source, passion, or personal project.
Since instituting Terrible Project Weeks we’ve had our team develop some great projects. Two of those projects include:
Terrible Labs has been an early adopter of RubyMotion, a toolchain that lets developers quickly create and test native iOS applications, using Ruby. Part of developing high quality Ruby applications is writing well-tested code. Thomas leveraged a project week to develop an approach for using screenshots as assertions in RubyMotion test suits and released it as an open-source library: motion-juxtapose.
When RubyMotion was launched a few years ago, we were super excited to use it for a project. Unfortunately we didn’t have a mobile client project, since we had built up the Terrible Labs brand as a web design and development shop. In an effort to show our mobile prowess we searched for a simple idea that we could develop into a mobile application. That idea came in the form of a tweet from Paul English: “I want an iPhone app to take a photo of any parking ticket and pay for it from a credit card on file.”
Since seeing that tweet, we’ve launched TicketZen, the easiest way to pay a parking ticket. We spent a week building the initial RubyMotion prototype. Since then, most of our team has been able to work on the application to learn the RubyMotion toolchain. As a result of releasing TicketZen, we’ve experienced a dramatic increase in the number of Terrible clients looking to build mobile products.
As a consulting shop, it’s not easy finding the right balance of learning and client work. We still have a long way to go, but since investing in Project Weeks, we feel like we’re on the right track.
Stay tuned to the Terrible Blog as there are several more open-source and passion projects being worked on by folks at Terrible Labs. We’re excited to see where these projects go but we’re even more excited to continue watching our team level up their skills and keep Terrible Labs at the forefront of design and development.