Upwork – a TestFairy success story

Bittu Ahlawat is a Director of Engineering at Upwork (UPWK) — the largest freelancing website — leading their mobile effort. Bittu joined the company three and a half years ago. As a large organization, app distribution was a core challenge that his team was looking to solve. This is where TestFairy came in, more specifically, making it simple reduced the headache about making sure that the right apps get to the right place at the right time.

Thank you for this interview Bittu. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
“Thank you for having me. I joined Upwork in 2015. Prior to Upwork, I was working at Ebay in their Innovation and New Ventures department. After joining Upwork, I started working on the mobile offering that a company of this scale required.”

How is the Upwork mobile team structured?
“Up until the beginning of this year, we had traditional breakdown of teams: iOS, Android, Mobile Web and a backend mobile api team. At the beginning of the year, we decided to switch gears and make mobile responsibility of every domain team. Now, an individual domain team owns their experience across every platform we support. For example, the team that is responsible for search now owns search across web, mobile web, iOS, and Android.”

How do you make this work technically?
“We developed a custom framework in house that allows us to leverage our responsive website to power our app experience. This frameworks work closely in hand with our website codebase to allow an experience in the app that feels very native. It leverages native components for navigation, transitions and animations while uses the webpage for the content of the screen. I feel we have developed a healthy combination of the native and web to make the native app experience just right.”

What brought you to the conclusion of changing the architecture?
“As we look at where mobile has come to from 2009 when apps launched on iOS, up until now everyone has taken the silo approaches. If you want an iOS app, you build an iOS team. If you want an Android app, you build an Android team.

For a while, we wanted a solution that would allow us to ‘Build once, Launch everywhere’. However, any third party solution we looked at had some downside. Either the app experience was subpar or the whole stack would have to be stuck with some framework for a while. Either way, it wasn’t the right choice. Therefore, we decided to build our own framework that would solve all these problems for us.

We spent this past year transitioning to our new mobile strategy. Now a team owns their
experience across all four platforms and can build once and launch everywhere at the same time.”

So, is Upwork using Upwork for building Upwork? 🙂

“Yes! Upwork engages with freelancers via our own platform across every single discipline – freelancers, engineers, designers, customer service agents, even our receptionist is a freelancer that lets people in and out of the building via a webcam.”

What brought you to TestFairy?

“One of the things that our new architecture did was that it forced every domain team to worry about their experience across all platforms. It also meant that they needed to test their product across iOS and Android apps. Given the highly distributed nature of our teams, we needed a solution that allowed us to share these apps with everyone while making the downloading part very easy.

Is there a unique case that you found TestFairy useful or recommended?
Essentially, we needed a solution where we could easily pass a link around to everyone and get them download the apps as fast as possible. Tap on the download button and the app is installed on the phone, with the right permissions and tracking. Any additional complication beyond that would have caused the small central team additional overhead that they couldn’t afford.
This is where TestFairy came in. It solved all of our needs in the exact same manner we needed it to. It would have been very challenging to build and test the app without TestFairy.”

I think that you will be happy to hear that this interview will be transcribed and edited by an Upwork freelancer that is working for us.
That is great to hear! It shows the power of Upwork wonderfully — our vision is to connect businesses with great talent to work without limits 🙂