OurHood has always put the user first and designed functions and features aimed at improving your experience on the platform.

We have carried this user-centred approach into revamping the User Profile section. We understand the importance of not only being able to communicate with your neighbours but also knowing who they are.

With this in mind, you can now customise your OurHood profile to include your interests, skills and what you love about your neighbourhood. You can also get to know your neighbours better by seeing the same information about them.

We still, however, value all users’ privacy so information such as your contact details and address remain hidden unless you choose to share it with your neighbourhood.

A lot of thought went into deciding which design, format and layout would work best for our neighbours.

This week, we speak to Michael Botes, OurHood front-end developer, as well as Michael Jansen, who heads OurHood’s back-end system development, about the work and process behind our new user profiles.

What spurred the change to the User Profile?

MB: Our profile was probably the oldest piece of code throughout the entire project. It was definitely our biggest sore point in terms of visual user interaction, so it was long overdue for a good overhaul.

MJ: We want OurHood to be a place where everyone in the neighbourhood feels more connected to his or her neighbours. Now going on to a neighbour’s profile and reading about their interests and skills helps create that feeling of “knowing your neighbour”.

We revamped our user profiles and added a tag system for most of the profile section. Why opt for this way of users providing information about themselves?

MB: We think it is a really fun way of interacting with your profile and what you like. It also encourages users to interact with their neighbour’s profiles to see who they are and who has common interests or goals.

I also introduced a new secondary colour, which is a teal/light-blue that users can expect to see involved in other sections of the platform.

What does creating a tagging system like this entail? What kind of work went into building it?

MJ: Well from a back-end perspective, it was mainly the creation of new tables to store all the new data about users. This then had to be sent through to the front end via our API (Application Programming Interface).

So how exactly does the User Profile work?

MB: When a user lands on their profile or a neighbour’s profile, a request is sent to our backend to get all tags that relate to that particular neighbour. We get that information and display it as tags on the profile.

When a user clicks edit, another request is sent to go and get ALL possible tags that relate to that section and if the user had already selected any of them.

Once a user has selected all the tags he/she is interested in and clicks the save button, the collection of all the tags is sent back to the backend, which then categorises the tags and then saves it to that user and updates the list when the page is refreshed.

What were the challenges when working on the user profiles?

MJ: My main challenge from the back end was making sure that our database indexes and keys were set up correctly.

MB: Another challenge was getting access to basically all information that makes up a user and figuring out ways to make the system efficient and load quickly.

Multiple repeats of the same tag was a bug we ran into once we had deployed to our testing environment. It took us a day and a lot of head scratching to figure it out but all things have been fixed now and the speed has been optimised.

We would love to hear from you

We would love feedback on what our site. Any suggestions, comments or questions are always welcomed. Email us on [email protected] are very excited to see everyone using these new features.

Stay tuned for OurPets!

Your friendly neighbours at OurHood. 

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