The best ideas often spawn out-of-the-blue. The proof: the new OTYS on the Go! app. "It all started when we sat together one time," begins Mart Borghuis, Developer at OTYS Recruiting Technology and lead developer of the application. "We said to each other: why don’t we try to build an app that performs all the tasks in one and that 'just' works simply." That very same day he started building the app. One year, two designs and several rounds of feedback later, OTYS' new application is in all the app stores. But, if it is up to Mart Borghuis and Jonas Stolk, UI/UX Designer at OTYS, they are far from finished.
From brainstorm session to concept
For years, OTYS offered separate apps. Less practical for OTYS users, and the apps were also causing OTYS some headaches. "For people who used the previous apps, this new app must be a big shock," Jonas says with a laugh. "You actually get a look and feel that belongs to this day and age."
Within a week there was already a first draft that allowed people to see e-mails and other simple things. "It wasn't even an official project we were going to do yet. It was just an idea," says Mart, who studied application development. "I just started working on a first outline myself. Soon I discovered that it was pretty easy and we could make it. That's how it all started, and it has now become the application it is."
"Mart first investigated: what can and should it do?" adds Jonas, who later joined the development of the OTYS on the Go! app as a designer. That Mart can do a lot is evidenced by the fact that he single-handedly built the current app in a tight six months. "That's the beauty of OTYS. We're given freedom and he doesn't tie us down to things. He says, 'just build the prototype your way,” says Mart talking about Bert, the CEO.
A clever piece of engineering work
That an application should support the work process is a given. However, this was not always the case with the previous applications. "The old apps were used by quite a reasonably amount, but often a component broke down or something didn't work, yet again," Mart says. "It then also became costly, both money and timewise, to fix these issues. We needed developers with separate competencies to develop for both IOS and Android, which meant that it took a lot of time to fix small problems."
The new application runs as a PWA (Progressive web application), which means it is developed in a language that all operating systems are familiar with, namely web. This way, it is built for one platform and then deployed on multiple operating systems at the same time. "This way you don't have to write separate Android and IOS code, but one application that works on both devices. An additional advantage," Mart explains, "is that with this variant you merely have to change something in one place to solve a problem for all platforms. You save a lot of time and you can develop much faster." Because the apps are packaged specifically for IOS or Android, you can download the new OTYS on the Go! app from both the App Store and Google Play Store.
Something both men point to as a nice piece of engineering are the dossiers. "Visually not very cool, but technically it's constructed in an awesome way," says Jonas. "The fact that you can easily search through it is incredibly cool," agrees Mart. "After all, you have a file in candidate detail, but also in a vacancy. You build dossiers in a relation contact, but also in a relation. The fact that this works generically for all entities in OTYS is really fantastic."
Designed with the Best Practices in mind
With a degree in Communication and Multi Media Design, Jonas was the right person to take charge of the design of OTYS on the Go! "Since my start at OTYS in 2019, I have mainly designed recruitment websites. You do create a mobile design for those, but this is really different. There are a lot of functionalities in OTYS Go!
The app is basically a light version of the main application. OTYS Go! is, of course, a desktop application with a broad ratio. You have to know how to compress this into a mobile design. In this process, information will drop out." Partly for this reason, they discussed every aspect with OTYS' product management team.
For the app's design inspiration, Jonas looked for best practices within the field. "An app consists of many different little parts. A search hook, a list view, cards that hold information. You have floating action buttons, an app's most prominent add button, menus, etc. "I used inspiration from all the big well-known apps to create a strong modern design." What Jonas is most proud of? The calendar in the app. "How the calendar is going to look in the next update, that's really sleek. That's just a good equivalent of the Google Calendar."
Our eyes are on the future
Their ambitions are not yet fulfilled. "We have now built a live prototype based on the techniques and code languages I know. Now we are improving that as well."
Mart learned the latest variant of the Angular Framework last year, and the next update that will come out early this year is built within this framework. “Visually not much changes for the user, but the app is much more scalable and a lot faster.” Jonas interrupts Mart to say that they do in fact have design improvements in the new version.
What does scalable mean according to Mart? By building the app within a framework, everything is a lot more scalable. All elements are reusable, and therefore it takes less time to build new parts. We can simultaneously build in the same application with multiple developers without getting in each other's way. If there is a new development in recruitment, we can act on it even faster now.
The app is also a valuable addition to the main OTYS Go! application. "The new version of OTYS Go!, is built in the new code language. The mobile app is built as a mini Go!" says Mart. "The advantage is that it allows us to use new techniques, new ways, to deal with data and to present something to users which they can easily try out. And to do it in a way so it doesn't disturb our customers, but can still be easily built into the main software."
Ambassadors of their own app
They themselves are also enthusiastic users of the new app. "We are obviously not recruiters, so we don't use the CRM or job applications much ourselves," says Jonas. For example, Jonas checks the calendar to see if it is necessary for him to come to the office the next day because of an appointment, "without having to open and start my laptop again." Mart, in turn, uses it to create reminders for himself. "When I have a eureka moment on th