As we were selected for the Alpha Program of the fourth annual edition of the Web Summit (undoubtedly the biggest tech conference in Europe), Florian and I spend our week in Dublin. With the evening activities involving pub crawls, after parties and get-togethers with fellow startuppy people, we definitely had a great time in Ireland. And we also got some important business stuff done.
On Tuesday Advantage Austria had prepared a ‘Pitch Perfect’ seminar for a group of Austrian entrepreneurs. Paul O’Dea (CEO, Select Strategies) warned us right off, that there’s no 1-to-9 plan when it comes to creating a pitch for your company. Using the battle-card canvas, he explained how explaining which problem or pain you’re trying to solve with your product or portfolio for your sweet spot customers, delivering measurable value and beating the competition at the same time, helps you drill down to a paragraph that functions as your larger pitch.
As challenges on the way to a perfect pitch, our group mentioned their struggles with picking the right storyline. And what if the product is very technical? Profiling our sweet spot customer, Paul suggested to filter them by the following ‘characteristics’:
With a 7 track conference it can be fairly hard to choose the ‘right’ talks. After an exhausting exhibition day on Wednesday, I really needed some peace and quiet. Coincidentally the Developer Stage was situated in a bat cave kinda tent. A recap from my Day 2 at the Web Summit (thank you Usersnap, for bringing me along!:
In Practicing Failure: Gamedays on the Obama Campaign, Dylan Richard explained how he got his team (40 technical people) ready for the event if technology fails. Some semantics; the 2012 re-election IT team worked 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, owned 300 repo’s, used 300 servers and catered to 1 million volunteers and 8000 staff members.
“Technology does not win an election, but you can lose because of it.” Dylan figured he needed to learn to deal with failure. “Looking at a community app, if everything falls apart but users can still communicate, you’re probably doing alright.” Suggesting that you might not know what matters, Dylan recommends talking with your stakeholders and ‘do less things, better’.
Or: when your colleague’s inbox zero bliss results in inbox hell for you
In the startup world, when you mention that you’re working towards / or you have reached ‘inbox zero’, you’ll get some admiring nods from whoever is listening to you. Not from me though. I’ll let you in on a secret: inbox zero is a lie. Why? Because answering all your mails – preferably before 8 am so no-one will be up to write a reply – means you’ll create ‘inbox overflow’ for your co-workers. Just pushing unreads back and forth is not going to ‘fix’ email (yes, it’s broken).
Chief Email Officer
Our CEO often jokes that the ‘E’ in his job title stands for ‘Email’. Working on the same desk, I do see a constant stream of messages coming in on his screen. There’s very little you can do about the email behavior of your clients, business contacts or external email fanatics. The very least we – as a team – can do is creating filters and stop bothering each other with loads of non-descriptive emails and funsies (or maybe create a chat room for that sort of things – one that you can mute).
The last few weeks we’ve been working on a redesign of our website, rethinking copy and opting for a cleaner design (inspired by Andrew Chen’s recent blog post). We killed a lot of darlings in the process, but happily so. We would love to hear your feedback on our new layout, but first, let me tell you about the driving force behind our redesign mission.
Benedikt Reiter is the newest addition to the Usersnap team. He’s a UI/UX-Designer / Frontend Developer with a lot of knowledge of actual programming as well as design. And he’s a Photoshop black belt. Benedikt started developing web applications when he was 13, creating a “little Facebook, but much smaller and not that feature-full”, with about 1500 active users. At 15 he had his first customer.
Always into design and user experience, Benedikt attended the HTL in Perg (Austria) and today he’s about to start the Timebased and Interactive Media track at the University for Art and Industrial Design in Linz.
UX/UI and Responsive Web Design
As someone making a living in the startup world, one can not have missed the rise of A/B tests, greatly boosted by Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup. But what is this A/B testing all about? And how do you make sure you get a data-driven approach to product development right for your website or web application?
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing requires to have two different versions of a page, one being your current version, and the other is the version you want to change the page to. Every A/B experiment starts with a little hypothesis. For instance: in order to drive more traffic towards our signup page we need a friendly green button, instead of the blue one we have currently. To research and justify your changes, you route half your visitors to the first page and half to the second. Next, you monitor how many of the visitors perform the desired action (like: sign up for your service) on each page, and you calculate the conversion rate for the old and new page. The page with the highest conversion rate is probably the one you should use.
Adrian Smith is a self-employed software architecture and performance consultant currently working on a platform for HR departments that implements quite a few special features. Adrian decided to use Usersnap for this project, to gather specific feedback from his client during the development process.
“We’re using Usersnap on our dev server as the site isn’t live yet. It helps my client to point out and describe what he’d like to see improved. I like this way of receiving feedback. He can highlight areas of the screen etc., i.e. he can really visually say what’s wrong. Which is of course way better than writing an email following the storyline ‘on the third navigation point, the second area, the 3rd word is in a strange position’!”
Adrian’s core usage is within his development team. Screenshots get delivered to his inbox, where he processes them and divides them into tasks in his project management tool, Liquid Planner.
In a series of blog posts, we’ll discuss web design’s best practices when it comes to usability, responsiveness and accessibility. We care about great design and we’d love to show you that a little CSS love goes a long way. In this post I’ll look at the Twitter search form, to replicate its elegant design.
Recreating the Twitter search form
Now Twitter wraps it’s elements in a whole lot of
spans. I’ll drill it down to the input-element and button, to keep things accessible. Using only HTML, our search form looks a bit ‘boxy’.
In a series of blog posts, we’ll discuss web design’s best practices when it comes to usability, responsiveness and accessibility. We care about great design and we’d love to show you that a little CSS love goes a long way. In this post I’ll look at the Gmail send button, to replicate its clear blue design for your actions.
I went ahead and replicated the necessary HTML and CSS and saved it on Codepen for you to play around with:
Last Saturday the Viennese chapter of the international movement Pyladies kicked off what will become a series of meetups, with a beginners workshop to Python. PyLadies aims to provide a friendly support network for women and a bridge to the larger Python world. Why? Well, because we’d like to see more diversity in the tech world, and with only 17% (and declining!) of the industries jobs filled by women, we have a long way to go! That’s why anyone with an interest in Python was encouraged to participate (and yes, that means guys too). The attendees (both students and coaches) dragged friends, boyfriends, husbands and family members along for a day of coding bliss at Sektor5.
Both because part of the Usersnap team holds office at Sektor5, and because we’re proud Pythonista’s ourselves, we were happy to (co)sponsor this event. Being one of the organizers this post might turn out a bit biased, but we really had a lot of fun. And I think we learned heaps about where to improve for a next edition!
We started at half past ten, going through the Python track on Codecademy (who happily supported the event). With so many people interested in coaching (the Python community in Vienna rocks!), more advanced attendees could ask very specific questions and we saw a lot of one-on-one coaching sessions.
In a series of blog posts, we’ll discuss web design’s best practices when it comes to usability, responsiveness and accessibility. We care about great design and we’d love to show you that a little CSS love goes a long way. In this post I’ll look at the pretty rounded avatar my Google+ profile is sporting.
I love how the rounded images makes practically every profile picture look nice and friendly. To figure out how Google+ went about this, I went ahead and replicated the necessary HTML and CSS and saved it on Codepen. Feel free to play around with it and use is for your own page!