In part 1 of our blog series, we explained why we urgently needed a collaboration app for our agency. Now learn in part 2 about how our task grid came to be.

In October 2013, we had reached a point where we didn’t want to keep searching for an app that would fit our needs. It felt like we had done three laps of the internet and come away empty-handed. So we grabbed a pencil and a blank sheet of paper. Our objective: scribbling down the perfect user interface for a collaboration app.

The result was a person-specific task grid. The longer we stared at our grid, the more fascinated we were by its layout. From the start, it felt like the ideal approach for better transparency and simplicity for our agency’s business. It seemed we had solved our problems with a few pencil strokes.

You could tell which team member was working on which task and what tasks were scheduled for other co-workers—all at a single glance. All at your fingertips, no extra clicks. We ourselves were surprised at how easily we arrived at a solution that really got us excited.

The following days, our concept was always on our minds, so we just had to take the next step. We wanted to know if our grid idea would actually work. How would it feel to manage our tasks in the grid? Would it be intuitive to use? We wanted to stop dreaming and talking and see a working grid in front of our eyes.

So we asked ourselves what framework would be the best fit for our app. We wanted a real-time app using WebSocket, without the need for reloading pages. Furthermore, we were interested in using a widely-used programming language. Also, we decided it shouldn’t be PHP.

We chose Meteor—everything in JavaScript, both on the client and server ends. Meteor helped us speed up development and enabled us to create a desktop-class web application.

In no more than a few days, we had our first early prototype.

Our whole team was on a giant grid! From it, tasks could be created and assigned, priorities modified and time tracking enabled—for each person individually. And it all happened on one page with just a few clicks. What we had felt very good, and we were now really into developing our own collaboration app.

Despite our grid idea’s early success, we knew that developing a collaboration app would be quite the challenge. A task grid on its own would not suffice to justify the creation of yet another collaboration app. We had to deliver more than that.

But the grid was so inspiring to us that the ideas just kept coming. We imagined how we could tackle time tracking in a much simpler way than other platforms. We imagined how we could integrate our telephony services, and we started thinking about how we could make offices smarter in general.

Preview of part 3

In part 3, we will talk about our experiments with integrated telephony and what an important influence they were in developing our own collaboration app.

Click here to jump to part 3 of our blog series.