Get Closer to Your Customers

Great collection of tools and insights for startups to better understand their customers:

“It’s impossible to operate a business without interacting with customers and capturing their profiles, especially in the early, formative years of a company. “If you're building a web or mobile business, the way in which you interact with your customers is often via e-mail, push notifications, SMS or surveys inside or outside the product,” says Reinhardt. “The way you discover how easily they're using your product is with an analytics tool that shows you a funnel. The brick and mortar analog is a store owner standing in her store observing what's happening. It’s that fundamental.”

How 4Hero Programmed Goldie's Software

Sven Von Thülen interviews Goldie:

“I had a lot of ideas and samples in my head and Marc and Dego would listen to what I said. We went into these intense sessions of cutting up breaks, recording them to DAT, resampling everything onto the computer and layering stuff. Because for me, I was making colors. That was my approach: let’s make the colors first, and then we’ll do everything else after. it was about eccelecticism. Like a graffiti writer says, “This is an outline. I’m gonna show you what colors you’re gonna use, and then we’re gonna fill it in together.” Put blue there, put pink there. That was my attitude toward music.”

Fascinating glimpse into the creative process with one of the pioneers of electronic music and drum 'n' bass.

Onboarding: Show, Don't Just Tell

Some great advice on key elements to your onboarding flow:

Offering users a structured set of steps to walk through helps reduce abandonment. Psychologically speaking, this makes a lot of sense. If new users know how many steps they must complete, they’re more likely to complete the process. This transparency earns websites more patience from users because uncertain, unexplained waits feel longer than known, finite waits.

The structured set of steps is often overlooked in favor of just 'telling' the user what to do next. Instead of trying to craft a great modal explaining what's next, build it into the flow so they always have a place to go back and see what to do next.

Technical Debt

Technical Debt. Whys, hows and whens.

I prefer to be in control of a situation over acting in a reactive fashion. This leads me to make decisions in another way. Way earlier. In terms of how to produce good software, I would choose a way which allows me to deliver often, scope out or change my mind equally often and use that feedback [data] to guide my future decisions.

Here is another article from Martin Fowler on Technical Debt.

Prototype First

Nice post-mortem from Hipmunk explaining why Protyping is such a valuable tool:

If you don't prototype your application before you start building, you're doing it wrong. It's just too much value for so little effort, you'd be nuts not to try it out.

I totally agree with this statement. I've done projects where we fully prototyped the solution prior to implementing and while it didn't catch everything it made us think through the solution before putting code to it. Small tweaks were easy to test inside the existing prototype before code was written. On top of that we are able to put the prototype in front of customers and get invaluable feedback early on.

Breaking Down User Stories

The objective that every sprint deliver valuable, working software, is not a requirement. It is a design principle of the Scrum process. Agile is not about mandating processes, it is about getting better and faster. When you can’t reasonably decompose a story into something that can be delivered

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Eldora Trail 10k

This weekend I did my second trail race of the summer, the La Sportiva Eldora Trail 10k. The course was at the Eldora Mountain Resort along the Nordic Center trails. It was pretty muddy in parts but overall a fun and technical course. I ran along with a colleague from

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First Trail Run of Summer 2009

This morning I completed my first trail race of the summer, the Evergreen Mountain Trail Race (I had planned on one earlier but decided to take more time to train). It was a 10 mile run around the Alderfer - Three Sisters Park and to the top of Evergreen Mountain

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Looking Back

So it seems appropriate to start off this new blog with a look back at where I've been and a look forward to where I'm headed. I recently graduated (May 2009) from the University of Colorado at Boulder - Leeds School of Business with my MBA and have had several

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