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Skype is the world’s leading peer-to-peer messaging platform with over 3 billion minutes of conversations taking place daily, all over the world. The amount of people using Skype regularly is already extremely high, but what they are planning for in the future takes them in a new direction, and is an arguably more ambitious project than they’ve undertaken thus far. Skype is in the process of enabling every single developer across the globe to participate in an operation to improve and transform the product, by building bots and integrating them into the application. The new “open and extensible” developer platform is now live– take a look at https://dev.skype.com.

Project Overview

Customer
Microsoft Skype
Category
Responsive Web App
Industry
Software Technology
Project Duration
5 Weeks
Launch Date
April 2017

Project Focus Chart

The possibilities are theoretically endless with Skype’s new developer platform, opening the playing field for easily accessible and extensive innovation. They are focusing on areas such as Bots, Web Control, Online Payments, Add-ins for sharing content. One of their featured Case Studies explains the Hipmunk Bot, the integration of which helps “people to travel better”. Bots are intelligent, digitized assistants that make it easier to get things done by communicating with the user directly via Skype chats. Hipmunk, who purport to use “technology to take the hassle out of travel planning”, is an official partner of Microsoft, and pairs human language understanding with machine intelligence for a unique and advanced user experience that tailors itself directly to each specific chat request.

Hipmunk is one of many services that have been enabled by Skype’s new innovation. Aside from Bots, the other developer platform features include Payments, Integrations and Web Control. During development and construction, Hackerbay made sure that the platform interface was as simple as possible for developers to use. Every category (Bots, Web Control, Online Payments and Add-ins) has a clear and straightforward introduction, in order to quickly and succinctly inform developers of what they’re able to do with the platform, and how to get started. The call to action button, “get started”, gives users a quick overview of what can be done, some brief examples and prompts developer traffic to immediately begin building their own projects.

To make sure that we were delivering the most accessible and user-centric experience, the Hackerbay design and product teams ran user interviews with developers to see if the platform was fulfilling expectations. We had very positive feedback during the entire development process, with specific emphasis on the importance of mobile and tablet compatibility. Many current Microsoft developers code primarily on portable devices rather than desktop interfaces, so we focused on enhancing the quality of both equally. The nature of working as a developer, whether freelance or contracted, centres around flexible scheduling and a work-from-anywhere methodology. Our primary user-base is comprised of developers who are attracted to the latest in digital innovations, which is underpinned by the prolific and widespread use of portable devices. We wanted the developers to be able to build new and unique features for Skype with maximum ease.

The challenges that we faced were mostly focused on enhancing the user experience beyond any other developer platform that was already on the market, or that was being built by competitors. Desirable aesthetics are usually underrated in regards to software-building platforms, as functionality takes precedence. We didn’t want to compromise on either, so we curated a design that was complimentary to that of Skype’s existing one, as well as in line with their branding standards. After tying everything together, Hackerbay managed to deliver a high-quality UX with absolutely no compromise on aesthetics and functionality. The project was completed at a high speed to the great satisfaction of Rene Brandel, Head of the Skype Developer Platform. He took the time to give Hackerbay some informative feedback on the process of working with the team.

“The main thing that set Hackerbay apart from many other third party entity that we have worked with was the speed in which they understood, processed, developed and delivered exactly what we wanted from the platform– to our direct specifications, at a level of outstanding quality.“ Despite the rapid turnover, there was absolutely no compromise on the quality of the output– it really was quite astounding.

It was so easy for us to integrate Hackerbay’s work into our platform. It fit perfectly into our existing infrastructure, so it was zero hassle for us to scale the project up from the small-scale development. I also really enjoyed the entire communication process with Hackerbay. Collaborating with them actually felt like kicking off a new tiger team. Sitting down and developing ideas together with the Enterprise team was extremely insightful, and from the word go we were working on ways to compromise as a team so that both our project requirements or specifications were met. The flow of communication was very natural– they were unbelievably attentive.

Microsoft is a big company, yet Hackerbay’s method faultlessly integrated into our existing methodologies. They are capable of being flexible to the task at hand, and were the perfect compliment to Microsoft’s highly-regulated infrastructure. It was almost like working with a blackbox solution that always returns you what you want, without fail.

It was a cool experience to have such intensely responsive members of the team on my case. The way Hackerbay operates I see as a communication funnel: everything goes through the funnel in the right order, so that the highest level of efficiency and maximum output is achieved.

“It was so simple, I cannot put it into better words– if you work in a big company, sometimes there’s a huge hassle trying to find the right person to talk to; even to complete one small task. The process could be slow due to multiple dependencies, amongst other blockages. It is often the case that you end up looking for and trying to contact the right person for a longer time than actually speaking with them! But with Hackerbay, the process was the total opposite.” Rene Brandel Head of Skype Developer Platform, Microsoft Skype
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