Dec 13, 2019 | Updated: 02:50 PM EST

Brenda Jin, UI Developer At Macys.com (interview)

Dec 30, 2013 11:45 AM EST

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Brenda Jin is a UI Developer at Macys.com. A web developer that is specializing in Tablet Prototyping at Macys.com, she is the lead technologist on a pilot agile team whose goal is to discover best practices and ecommerce opportunities on tablets. Brenda also frequently give talks on interaction design and rapid prototyping in San Francisco and abroad. In addition, she has won hackathons for projects ranging from Internet of Things to native mobile applications.

Brenda began learning JavaScript in January 2013 through Girl Develop It, tons of JS and paired programming meetups, and resourceful self study. She has used HTML since AIM profiles and Geocities, and CSS since 2011. “I love the web! When I’m not programming, you’ll find me tackling the Bay Area hills on my bike or composing beats. Whatever I’m doing, I like nothing more than a challenge.” ~ Brenda Jin.

Brenda Jin, UI Developer at Macys.com

Droid Report: Hello Brenda, Macy's is one of the nation’s premier omni-channel retailers. Can you tell us more about your role and some insight on you being a lead technologist for Macys.com?

Brenda Jin: I build interactive A/B prototypes for Tablets using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These prototypes run on Node.js and are built with tools like Grunt (build automation), Require (AMD), Backbone (MV*), Handlebars (JS templating), and Jasmine (unit testing). I work on a small agile team that takes these functional web applications into testing with users, so that we can continue to iterate and optimize. It's a really cool way to research what resonates with our customers.

Droid Report: User Experience is continuously evolving. How would you describe the UX landscape?

Brenda Jin: UX is at an exciting place right now as the world looks towards experiences that are less focused on a touch screen and more focused on environmental context. Connected devices such as wearables, home sensor networks, and other hardware hacks come to mind. I believe that as we become more able to interact without our eyes and hands simultaneously focused on a single point of contact, we will be able to better integrate with our surroundings while engaging with technology.

Droid Report: Building for Google Glass - What You Need to Know is a recent Slideshare presentation conducted by yourself and Tim Anglade where both of you had discussed exactly what building for Glass means in practice.. One of the slides pointed out that “UX is likely to drive needs for different data, more data, and more contextualized data, but delivery methods will be similar.” Can you explain your outlook of how you see data driving UX?

Brenda Jin: A lot has changed since that presentation, including a hardware update, operating system update, and release of the GDK. However, the need for a certain kind of data still exists for Glass, as well as for other wearable devices. Users only want to be inundated with information when they are ready to pay attention, like in an immersive game. The rest of the time, relevant notifications work better to meet users' needs. For this, the tricky part is not presenting data (since this is what we have been doing all along) -- it's getting the timing and context right. Giving the user settings to control timing and content can help.

Droid Report: The demands for broader interoperability put pressure on growing capabilities and performance for developers. As a developer, how satisfied have you been with HTML5?

Brenda Jin: I have been very satisfied with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as the various HTML5 APIs that have made it even more fun to develop web apps. This is a great time to be a web developer, especially with the increase we are seeing in Tablet sales. With mobile browsers receiving performance enhancements, mobile hardware getting optimized generation after generation, and faster mobile internet connections, there is so much potential for developers to take advantage of.

Droid Report: The Glass Development Kit (GDK) for developers is a new tool box launched last month for creating applications using Google Glass. Strava was one of the five glass apps that were also released. Having gotten to try out the new app at the San Francisco event and as an avid cyclist yourself, what did you think of the new app?

Brenda Jin: The new Glassware definitely made me want to be on Strava more! I'm excited to try it on a longer ride outside of San Francisco. So far, I've really enjoyed being able to easily capture photos from my bicycle without taking my eyes off the road. Just today, I went skiing for the first time ever, and I was able to effortlessly capture and share videos and photos without taking my gloves off!

Droid Report: You are also active as a speaker in related industry events for developers and have won awards for your applications. What may be an example of some of the advice you would give to UI developers on one of your topics such as tablet optimization while speaking at a event?

Brenda Jin: Consider the task at hand when making a decision about libraries, frameworks, and build tools. Do you absolutely need Bootstrap or jQuery UI if your web application only has three elements? On the flip side, do you really need to write your own touch library if somebody else has already made an outstanding one? Nobody knows your data and business like you. You (and your coworkers) will be responsible for maintenance until a tool retires, so choose wisely.

Droid Report: What advice would you give to those who would like to enter your field as a UI or UX Developer?

Brenda Jin: Dare to imagine your future self, even if it's hard to find role models who look like you. Attend hackathons and meetups to get a feel for the latest tools and how to collaborate with others. Be ready to learn and meet some tough challenges. Most importantly, be yourself!

Droid Report: Is there anything else you feel Android users and the Android market should know?

Brenda Jin: I believe that 2014 holds some exciting twists and turns as far as the technology market. There are going to be some innovative devices playing in the arena where touch screens used to dominate. Let's step up to this opportunity and build experiences that weren't possible before.

We would like to thank Brenda Jin for taking the time for this discussion and Macy’s.

Brenda Jin is a UI Developer at Macys.com. Brenda is a web developer that is specializing in Tablet Prototyping at Macys.com. She is the lead technologist on a pilot agile team whose goal is to discover best practices and ecommerce opportunities on tablets. Brenda Jin also frequently give talks on interaction design and rapid prototyping in San Francisco and abroad. In addition, she has won hackathons for projects ranging from Internet of Things to native mobile applications. Brenda Jin began learning JavaScript in January 2013 through Girl Develop It, tons of JS and paired programming meetups, and resourceful self study. She has used HTML since AIM profiles and Geocities, and CSS since 2011.

Contact Brenda at info@brendajin.com or on Twitter @cyberneticlove.

Macy’s, Inc. is one of the nation’s premier omni-channel retailers, with fiscal 2012 sales of $27.7 billion. The company operates the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands with about 840 stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico under the names of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s; the macys.com and bloomingdales.com websites, and 13 Bloomingdale’s Outlet stores. Bloomingdale’s in Dubai is operated by Al Tayer Group LLC under a license agreement. Macy’s, Inc.’s diverse workforce includes approximately 175,700 employees. Prior to June 1, 2007, Macy’s, Inc. was known as Federated Department Stores, Inc. The company’s shares are traded under the symbol “M” on the New York Stock Exchange.

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