2 Year Anniversary at Red Foundry. Hooray!

By on May 26, 2021 | Mobile App Development, Uncategorized | No Comments

Written by Diana Olariu

I am, and will always be, thankful for i.c.stars.

There are a few turning points in my life that really shaped my professional and personal journey. i.c.stars was without a doubt one of those turning points. It opened up an entire new world for me, one that I didn’t even know was possible to reach at this point in my life. i.c.stars taught me what it means to be a leader, an effective communicator, and problem solver. But they also taught me one of the most important skills in life – how to learn. i.c.stars showed me that I could learn anything I set my mind to. Since that time, I have grown tremendously as a software developer, person, and member of my community. i.c.stars was the beginning of it all! I am so happy I found them, and that they accepted me as a member. I hope they continue to teach and empower the communities within inner cities. The world needs more diverse leadership!


Red Foundry – My opportunity to shine!


Over the past 2 years, my mind has woken up. I love spending every single day applying my problem solving skills. It’s so much fun and feels like I’m solving puzzles that become useful mobile and web-app products for our clients. Taking a moment, I’d like to say… I love React Native! And I love Red Foundry :)


I started working at Red Foundry in January 2019 as a QA Analyst. I learned how to test an application, identify issues, write user stories, and anticipate client needs. Little by little, I started to feel more comfortable with software applications, user requirements and coding. They eased me into looking at code and “playing,” with it. I was given more responsibility incrementally and encouraged to choose coding tasks I would feel comfortable learning to solve. They encouraged me to look into courses that would help accelerate my learning process.


I started rapidly learning UI layouts and became quite good at it. Soon after, I started creating components and exploring backend end points. When I was confident and ready, Red Foundry encouraged me to complete a more complex course – a Nanodegree certificate, in order to improve my understanding about React, React Native, Redux and API’s.


Step by step, my tasks varied, and I was starting to see a real and rewarding improvement. Soon enough, I was assigned my first lead project. Such a challenge! You can feel the magic of a wonderful team when you are blocked, and you think there is no way you are going to make it! All of the team members encouraged me, guided me, and offered me their full support. I am grateful for that!


Now, after 2 years, I feel that I’ve grown a lot – both professionally and personally. The saying “anything is possible,” feels true with a team like Red Foundry. It’s an experience that I can’t fully describe, but I can assure you that working in a team with great professionals, that encourages you and is always there for you, is one of the best things to find in a workplace. The environment is wonderful, relaxed, and productive. Red Foundry hires talent, and arms newbies with an amazing toolset for learning and growing as a software developer. They nurture you and coach you to learn new things every day. They want to help you grow, improve, build confidence, accept mistakes, and thrive for more and better.


Red Foundry continues to show me new possibilities in the field of IT. I care about having a successful future, and Red Foundry is the company that continues to offer me support on this journey!


Red Foundry is open to use different tools, frameworks, learn and apply new technology. They encourage us to be resourceful, and therefore become better software developers. It is both fun and challenging. And though it can be extremely frustrating at times, I just think of how much I get to learn while going through the process. It’s amazing! I love this career and Red Foundry. It is perfect for the curious, for the forever learner. And that’s a big part of who I am.


Red Foundry, Thank You!

Red Foundry Promotes Kerri Klun to Partner

By on February 11, 2021 | Press Release | No Comments
February 10, 2021 – Red Foundry, a leading provider of mobile product design, development, and digital innovation services in the Chicago area, today announced the promotion of Kerri Klun to equity Partner – Client Delivery.

“We are excited to welcome Kerri’s talents to the partnership and look forward to her continued leadership of our client delivery team. Over the last 2 years, Kerri has reimagined our client delivery model, launched numerous mobile and web-app projects, embedded mentoring into our staff development plans, and doubled the size of our internal design and development teams. Under Kerri’s leadership, this investment in our talented team has led to many client success stories”, commented Rich Linden, Red Foundry Managing Partner.

“Developing teams is my passion and I am so grateful for the dedication and enthusiasm of the Red Foundry staff. Our goals are challenging but we have fun and truly enjoy being a part of our clients’ digital transformations. I look forward to continuing to build on our success this past year”, said Kerri Klun, Red Foundry Partner – Client Delivery.

About Red Foundry:
Red Foundry is a mobile application design and development consulting firm. Founded in 2009, and led by seasoned business and technology executives, we help our clients “Mobilize Their Business” by creating award-winning custom native, web-responsive, and cross platform mobile applications. Utilizing our mobile-optimized methodology, we work with established corporations to design and build mobile products that support their digital transformation, and we partner with entrepreneurs and early stage startup ventures to launch their mobile-enabled business.

Red Foundry Partners Celebrate 10-Year Anniversary of i.c.stars Sponsorship

By on January 5, 2021 | Press Release | No Comments

January 1, 2021 – Red Foundry, a leading provider of mobile product design, development, and digital innovation services in the Chicago area, today announced the renewal of an annual sponsorship agreement with i.c.stars. For over 21 years, i.c.stars has been developing future IT and community leaders through their innovative and intensive project-based training programs designed to develop the business and technical skills of program participants.

“We are honored to have worked closely with i.c.stars over that last 10 years, and excited to build on that relationship by reaffirming our commitment to i.c.stars and renewing our sponsorship. We are also excited to apply our commitment to IT community engagement through the hiring of i.c.stars graduates. We look forward to contributing to their ongoing national expansion and assisting with the delivery of their mission to talented IT professionals,” commented Rich Linden, Red Foundry Partner. “Red Foundry has been a model partner of ours for years,” said i.c.stars President and Co-Founder Sandee Kastrul. “As an employer of i.c.stars talent, a supporter of our events, a mentor to our interns and residents, a committed Board member and an advisor, Red Foundry is helping us to grow the organization and the impact across the Midwest. We look forward to another year of an impactful partnership.”

The annual agreement provides financial sponsorship and community engagement to i.c.stars Chicago through the funding of events, volunteering on Board and Advisory committees, hiring of i.c.stars program graduates, and the technical mentoring of i.c.stars students.

About Red Foundry:
Red Foundry is a mobile application design and development consulting firm. Founded in 2009, and led by seasoned business and technology executives, we help our clients “Mobilize Their Business” by creating award-winning custom native, web-responsive, and cross platform mobile applications. Utilizing our mobile-optimized methodology, we work with established corporations to design and build mobile products that support their digital transformation, and we partner with entrepreneurs and early stage startup ventures to launch their mobile-enabled business. www.redfoundry.com.

About i.c.stars:
Formed in 1999, Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation (“i.c.stars”) is a national technology workforce training and placement program that prepares young adults for technology careers and community leadership. Using project-based learning and full-immersion teaching, i.c.stars has trained more than 600 individuals and places 90 percent of qualified graduates in jobs. Participants see their annual earnings increase by an average of 300 percent as a result of the program. i.c.stars also works to change employer perceptions and practices around nontraditional talent and has engaged more than 10,000 employers since inception. http://www.icstars.org/.

Why Your UX Design Should Start with Product Thinking

By on September 22, 2020 | Product Design, UI/UX Design | No Comments

The great researcher, professor, and author, Donald Norman, began to bridge the gaps between design, usability, and cognitive science when he coined the term “user experience” in the early 1990s. As the technological landscape began to change rapidly in the 1980s, with the introduction of graphical user interfaces (the first interactive screens, as we know them today), a major focus began to be placed on the interaction between human users, machines, and contextual environments. Graphical user interfaces made technology more accessible by introducing things like the computer mouse, icons, and graphics. For the first time, digital technology had a significant decrease in the barrier to entry. 

As the progression of technology continued; and desktop computers, various operating systems, and the internet became commonplace, as did the crucial field of User Experience. In order to keep technology accessible to the average person, developers and designers needed  to find ways to make digital machines as easy to use as possible. They started to apply the principles of “good design” and the methodology behind Design Thinking to the digital landscape, and thus, modern user experience, or UX, was born. 

Fast forward to today in 2020, where 44.8% of the world population has a smartphone in their pocket, the world of user experience looks a lot different. Interfaces have become so advanced that the average user rarely finds themselves confused about how a digital product or app works. The iPhone’s interface has become so seamless that even babies and monkeys can operate them with little instruction. Fifteen years ago, interactions like swiping left and right didn’t even exist, and now, twelve variations of the iPhone later, we can’t even imagine a world without something like the endless scroll — that’s how intuitive the user experience has become.

Looking towards the future, digital products can no longer rely on having a good user experience alone to stand apart from the competition. That’s where product thinking comes in. Product thinking is the journey from the problem space to the solution space. The center of focus for any modern product needs to be the problem the product is trying to solve. A good user experience is getting easier to find. But a product with a good user experience that solves a real problem? That’s where a product can really stand apart from the rest. 

Product thinking starts with finding a problem worth solving, and working to gain a deep understanding of what the problem really is, where it comes from, who it affects, and what other solutions (if any) have been tried in order to solve it before. Product thinking isn’t about jumping immediately to a solution. It is about spending time in the gray space, testing out different ideas, talking to real potential users, and a lot of iteration. Once the questions around what the problem is, where it comes from, and who it affects are answered, then is the time to develop a strategy for how to achieve building the right product, defining features, KPIs and metrics, and starting the design process. 

At Red Foundry, we call this initial product thinking and design process phase “Discovery & Design” or “D&D,” as we like to refer to it. Though product thinking needs to be a constant state of mind throughout the entire design and development process, the initial “discovery” phase is a time dedicated to holistically thinking about the product. By giving space to truly understand the problem the product is trying to solve, the users pain points and goals, and what is really causing the problem, the team is able to start by first knowing that we are building the right product, before starting to design or develop it. It helps the team to understand the market value for what is being built and gives the power to make the right decisions when it comes to defining features. 

Product thinking looks different for each problem, as there are an endless amount of variables that help define a problem. More often than not, the process is not linear, but one that is slightly more unpredictable. But when keeping an open mind to understanding the problem is the goal, unpredictability is the desired outcome. If you can alter your approach to defining what the product is going to look like, you’ll have a better chance of finding the right solution. If you can find the right solution and pair it with a seamless user experience, now that’s a great product. 

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