Archive for the ‘Process’ Category

The Great Pyramid iteration

May 23, 2007

office_6.jpg

To ensure that features always work and that bug fixes stay fixed as we develop and introduce/improve features, we write and run automated software tests. A larger company would have a full QA (quality assurance) team of humans to do this. Since we’re a small crew, we rely on software to do the work. This is still a lot of work for us, but it brings a level of stability to our process and product that we normally wouldn’t have or be able to afford.

We are now nearing the point where the major bugs are killed. And we’ll begin shifting some effort toward establishing content partners and doing promotions (ahem, beyond our friends and family who have gone through the tough bugs).

Below are the most recent fixes:

  • Just because the big day is over doesn’t mean the party has ended. Post-event sharing and follow up can be fun. Soon you’ll be able to allow your guests to post their pictures from the event. For now, we’ve added your most recent events on your Stuff page to alert you of new activity, like comments if any.
  • Importing your address book into Crusher from Yahoo!, Google, AOL, Outlook, or Plaxo now includes the full names of your contacts along with the email address.
  • If you were an invited guest, clicking “Add Photo” next to your canned mugshot led to a broken sign-up flow. This was a horrible bug that we only discovered recently, and is now fixed.
  • Crushing a page by clicking “Crush This” now also carries over configuration settings for the Photostream. So if it was set as a slideshow, your new page will be set to the same.
  • We added a fix that prevents malicious activity through the use of JavaScript within certain HTML tags.
  • When creating a new page or editing a module, the description, video, and custom form fields now allow the full set of HTML tags. The title, location and comment form fields allow a subset that let you insert a link (A tag) and an image (IMG tag).
  • If your event has multiple dates it displayed within directory lists in a weird way. This is now fixed.
  • If someone suggests a song on a page, a text alert now appears on your Stuff page next to that item. If someone comments on your profile page, you will now see a “new!” alert from your Stuff page.
  • We’ve radically simplified the home page, clearer messaging.
  • The add to Google calendar feature was slightly broken when it came to date ranges. That is now fixed.
  • There was a bug where if you added your mobile phone number to the account page but opted out of receiving comments on your phone, you would still receive them. Happy to report this is fixed.
  • If you subscribed to comments on a page which was created anonymously, you weren’t receiving the owner’s comments. Now you are.
  • Logging in from the top global nav now leads to Stuff page.
  • Cleaned up the look and layout of comments a bit.
  • Don’t say “log in to comment” if you can’t.
  • Removing filler HTML text in Custom Module.

photo-14.jpg

Photo by Russell.

Almost There

April 20, 2007

mugs.jpg

We’re just around the corner of the beta launch. Some recent happenings: We’ve been doing some harsh editing on the ticket list (to do list) and re prioritizing certain bugs and features for “later”. We’re looking to make our bug tracker public so you can participate in the experience if you like. Doug figured out how to cache our JavaScript in the apache server so the site is “nine times faster”. He’s also put in the order for the big servers at Rails Machine, we expect a gradual growth but we’ll need them. We’ve been interviewing some brave local programmers who don’t like the regular paycheck, who takes risks – as Ben Afleck said, “it isn’t brave unless you’re scared,” so what are you waiting for? We need to fill a couple of positions so Phillip can get off the programming wagon and focus on some businessy stuff. Oh, also thinking about having a private wrap party. Whew.

Want to be a friend of Crusher? Get your very own Crusher shirt! For now, skip us and go directly to My Trick Pony in SF and ask them to make you one. You can choose the shirt at the store, and the color combination you prefer. The price depends on the garment and we don’t get a cut so you’ll pay what we would pay.

Defining Success in Kilometers

April 7, 2007

I could just be naive, or a direct result of never having gone to business school, but the way I’d like to define the success of this product is not by the usual metrics such as number of page views, unique visits, and signed up members, but rather by the cumulative height of published pages. Hence, the tag line “Success roughly measured in page length”. Yes, seriously |:

success.jpg

There are reasons. Ad banner revenue was strategically tossed out the window from the very beginning because it would put us in a position where we would want a lot of ad impressions generated by page views. Such a business model would not direct our particular product toward a good user experience, in fact it would the opposite. Without ads we’ve been able to design it in a way that tries to limit the number of pages you have to go to and eliminate browser refresh within the main page itself (as much as we can for now). I expect that we will continue and develop with this approach in mind.

It was also important that the product is easily adoptable, fitting nicely into your already cluttered life, with very low barriers to entry and use. If membership was a metric of success then it would get in the way, such as requiring sign-up up front. This is what most other products do out there and it sucks. At Crusher we have the opposite approach. Instead of a big “sign-up now” button we stress that there is “no membership required”. So explore freely to see what it is, use it freely to see if you’d like it, try it out first then sign-up if you think you’d continue to use it.

After we’ve designed and built much of the product I wondered how we can measure its success if we had to. Ultimately, how engaged our users are would be what’s important. Evidence of that takes on many forms, much of which can hardly be measured by the website itself. However, the vertical nature of Crusher would somewhat be telling since an engaged user would likely interact and participate more, thus extending the height of the page. Okay, it isn’t absolutely scientific. But it’s something.

The Internet start-up business plan

March 23, 2007

Tools

March 1, 2007

We don’t have much time to repetitively run through each and every scenario in the site ourselves to make sure the product isn’t breaking as we develop and check stuff in. Luckily, there is a software solution. Aside from unit tests we write for (most) features even before they are implemented, Selenium is a neat app which can mimic a users actual interaction across multiple pages on the site. Pretty easy to record basic scripts and run them as tests from any browser. Neat in that Doug has taken it up a level where it can make up user content to fill a form and even go as far as checking a gmail account and continuing back into the site for those flows that require users to do so. These tests reassure us that we’ll know most of the time when something breaks and where it breaks so we can quickly fix it.

office_3.jpg