In the last year, the OurHood engineers have had the strenuous task of rebuilding and rewriting the structure of the platform.

This rewrite was necessary to not only transition from old technology but to also improve functionality, usability and design.

Micheal Botes, OurHood front-end developer, gives us a deeper look at how the front-end infrastructure of OurHood has changed and improved in the last few months.

So what does “front-end mean”? As Michael describes it, the front-end of the platform is all design, layout, images, colours, user interactions and the way information is presented on a platform/website.  Almost everything you see and interact with on a website is the front-end developers job to create or make sure looks right and feels right.

Out with the old

OurHood was previously running on an older technology called Parse, which was scheduled to shut down by Facebook in December 2016. We had a ticking time bomb on our hands, we had to make calculated decisions to make sure that the new system could be operational in the shortest time possible.

During this period, a minimal amount of time was dedicated to making the platform look modern and clean, as the key priority was to get the platform familiar yet functional.

After rebuilding the Direct Messages and Groups features, fixing bugs, stabilizing the platform and reworking whatever needed to be changed, it was time to start looking at the aesthetics of the site.

We started playing around with the design of the site and colours. This led to a lot of excitement in the office, as ideas of new logos and names started floating around. However, we realised that we had become attached to our logo and the colours just needed a few tweaks. But it was unanimously agreed upon the look and feel of the site needed a good refresh and update.

Starting with our emails, we tested new designs as well as colours and styles. After a few iterations, the current weekly newsletter, with bold colours, clearly displayed content and new illustrations were a big drive for us to make the platform feel more safe and friendly.

We started experimenting on certain pages in the site, such as turning the local deals, neighbours, Invitations and Partners page, into design spaces to try new ideas and layouts.

In with the new

With all design testing and tweaks, it was finally time to look at one of the most important parts of our platform – the landing page. Knowing this was a big task; we enlisted the help of a designer, John Schickerling from HokaHey! Design Agency. He took our vague ideas and made them a reality. 

When we saw what our new landing page would look like, it strengthened our passion for the platform. His designs and visions for the platform were an inspiration for the next couple months.

Our first redesign task was the landing page, login page, sign-up process, on boarding and all secondary pages that users clicked on, like the about page or privacy policy. Fueled by the vision of change, we spent more than a couple late nights and early mornings to make it happen and look great, this was a sort of promise to the users that change is coming and they should ‘watch this space’.

Once the ‘front door’ of OurHood was redesigned, it was time to tackle the inside of the platform – the dashboard.

The final touches and changes to the new redesign of the dashboard are coming to a close. This has been a personal love child project, I was proud of what we were trying to achieve in neighbourhoods and South Africa.

Our new dashboard and site are a striking change from where OurHood started, and it is a great reminder of how far we have come as a team, a product and a company.

This new dashboard will soon be launched to all users with some great new features. Keep an eye on your our blog, social media and your inbox so you don’t miss out.

We have some exciting new features in the pipelines such as OurPets, a pet directory for your furry family members, as well as a new classifieds section that will help connect you to your neighbourhood and potential recommendations for all your household needs.

Over the last year, we have learnt, grown and tackled a lot but we have never stopped believing in the OurHood promise of connecting neighbours and creating a safer community.

Your friendly neighbours at OurHood