Category Archive for: product

rfp-robotRFP ROBOT: Website Request for Proposal Generator

The time has come for a new website (or website redesign), which means you need to write a website request for proposal or web RFP. A Google search produces a few examples, but they vary wildly and don’t seem to speak really to your goals for developing or redesigning a new website. You need to write a website RFP that will clearly articulate your needs and generate responses from the best website designers and developers out there. But how?

Have no fear, RFP Robot is here. He will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you work through the details of your project and create a PDF formatted website design RFP that will provide the information vendors need to write an accurate bid. RFP Robot will tell you what info you should include, point out pitfalls, and give examples.

Project Empathy: the Hows and Whys

When I became a project manager some ten years ago, my career mentor told me that to be successful, a project manager needs to be “empathetic.” I did not pay much attention to his advice at the time, but now I realize that being empathetic towards a project allows a manager to overcome many challenges she might face in the course of launching a particular project or product. Here’s my take on how to achieve “Project Empathy” and why it is important. What is Project Empathy? Having empathy for a project sounds odd, but it’s a useful idea. It means treating a project as if it were a living thing, with feelings and emotions. Think about it: a project is made up of its team. If the bond among team members is high, the overall emotional quotient of team will be high too — and as a PM, your task…

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A Look Back at Viget’s First Apprenticeship Cohort

This week, our first cohort of apprentices wrap up their 10 week-long Viget experience.  The apprentices are filling out feedback surveys, their advisors are preparing their final review lunches, and Erica is starting to connect with applicants for our next cohort.  Before we all move on to our next challenge, I want to take a step back and reflect on our program design and the exceptional folks who joined in our first official cross-disciplinary apprenticeship class. Our Program We designed the Viget apprenticeship program with three main areas for learning, each one reinforcing the other: Discipline-specific learning & trainingGlobal curriculumClient work Discipline-specific learning & training Each apprentice had a dedicated mentor with whom they met each week. Mentors were responsible for helping apprentices ramp up on specific skills with increasing levels of autonomy. This discipline-specific training was provided 1:1 and was based on the apprentice’s knowledge and needs. For example,…

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Move Slowly and Fix Things

Synoptic Table of Physiognomic TraitsRuminations on the heavy weight of software design in the 21st century.Recently I took a monthlong sabbatical from my job as a designer at Basecamp. (Basecamp is an incredible company that gives us a paid month off every 3 years.)When you take 30 days away from work, you have a lot of time and headspace that’s normally used up. Inevitably you start to reflect on your life.And so, I pondered what the hell I’m doing with mine. What does it mean to be a software designer in 2018, compared to when I first began my weird career in the early 2000s?The answer is weighing on me.As software continues to invade our lives in surreptitious ways, the social and ethical implications are increasingly significant.Our work is HEAVY and it’s getting heavier all the time. I think a lot of designers haven’t deeply considered this, and they don’t appreciate the real-life effects of…

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Mike Sullivan joins Acquia as CEO

Today, I am excited to announce that Michael Sullivan will be joining Acquia as its CEO. The search for a new CEO Last spring, Tom Erickson announced that he was stepping down as Acquia’s CEO. For over eight years, Tom and I have been working side-by-side to build and run Acquia. I’ve been lucky to have Tom as my partner as he is one of the most talented leaders I know. When Tom announced he’d be stepping down as Acquia’s CEO, finding a new CEO became my top priority for Acquia. For six months, the search consumed a good deal of my time. I was supported by a search committee drawn from Acquia’s board of directors, including Rich D’Amore, Tom Bogan, and Michael Skok. Together, we screened over 140 candidates and interviewed 10 in-depth. Finding the right candidate was hard work and time consuming, but we kept the bar high…

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How to Create HikaShop Product Characteristics and Variants

Last week, one of our customers asked how to set up HikaShop product variants. HikaShop is one of our favorite e-commerce Joomla extensions. We created the “How to Use the Hikashop Extension” video class to make learning HikaShop fun.  [[ This is a content summary only. Visit for full links, other content, and more! ]] Source:

Better Estimates

After having built a ton of software and a number of different startups I know better than ever that things take much, much longer than you originally hope and plan. Things like multiplying by three and iterations on product and strategy are well-worn paths at this point. Strangely (and sadly…?) I’m not sure that this makes me better at estimating the time required to complete tasks or projects, despite this wealth of experience. painful truism from @garyvee — Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) November 12, 2017 So even now, as I budget and plan I liberally add time to the top-end of an estimate, I think to myself that I’m wildly off and still overly-confident in my own ability to execute. But it’s a fun exercise nonetheless. I don’t mind being surprised by the results, both early ones and ones that take much longer to boil. I have lived long enough to appreciate…

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Simple trend?

Photo by PriwoIt’s getting to be that season of 2018 trend spotting. Someone recently asked me if I saw a trend in software becoming simpler…I was a kid and my father oddly started coming home late at night from work. Worried, I asked my mom what he was up to. She told me he was working “overtime”.My dad, a commercial real estate agent, was putting in extra hours to close some deals so he could afford to buy our first VCR and microwave.And when he did, they were glorious. I couldn’t wait to go to the video store with my dad. My family would sit in front of the TV each with our own bowl of popcorn. Everything was right with the world.Except, one thing.The clock was always blinking. If the VCR ever lost power, and I wasn’t around to set the clock, my parents couldn’t ever figure out how to set the thing.…

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Team Tendencies

Know thyself… as Socrates once famously said, is one of the more important tasks and exercises that we can undergo as people (and professionals). In fact, Socrates said that we make ourselves appear ridiculous when we try to understand things before we know ourselves first and that understanding our own natures and behaviors has a greater result and yield if we spent time investing in it. True, true. In many ways my blog here is a consistent exercise of that principle as I write for myself first and foremost as an exercise of discipline and of self-revelation. After that, though, I try my hardest to understand other people, especially those that I live and work with. Primarily, my spouse and my (growing) group of kids that I love tremendously. Following closely, the work that I do is deeply personal and very intimate. This is just the case in the startup world…

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Cash, Credit, or Relational Equity

When you build something with other folks you have to compensate them. Compensation can come in many different forms, the more typical being cash, credit, or the more fluid (but just as important) relational equity. Knowing the difference between the three and how you’re compensating (and how you, yourself is being compensated) is important. Not only is it important but it demands that you be direct and that you communicate explicitly about these things. Why? Because most folks do not naturally find financial alignment without actually talking brass tacks. In other words, no one can easily guess what another’s expectations are around compensation so it’s just better to have that conversation early (and often) instead of being completely in the dark. The cost of not having those important conversations can mean life and death to the project. More startups and projects fold because of founder disagreements than lack of product /…

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Rules of Business

Photo by Daniela ReySomeone asked me if I had any rules of business I follow. I have quite a few, but I shared a handful with them.Learn to tell a storyI have a three year old daughter. At night she pleads for a story I make up before she goes to bed. After food and shelter were taken care of, it’s wild how important stories became. When you make something, no matter what you create, success often depends on your ability to tell a good story.Don’t wait to build an audienceWho are you going to tell that story to? Too many start their businesses backwards. They wait years for THE idea. Make it. Now, have the stress of finding people who care. Reverse it. Start finding people who care now. Build an audience while you’re still flailing around. You’ll be glad you didn’t waste the time upfront.Play it longMany of us fear we’ve peaked. We’ve reached the…

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Can You Sell Water?

Selling is a core skill. You have to know how to sell, whether it’s a product, an idea, or yourself. In 2012, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried saw the results of a bottled water-selling challenge at Techstars Chicago, a bootcamp program for startups. That one-day competition is the starting point for a conversation that includes the art of negotiation, Jason’s experiences selling knives, tennis rackets, and software; and other adventures in business. You Sell Water? was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. Source: 37signals

Make Your Website Fresh Again With These 7 Tips

Back in the day when websites were all about content, web design wasn’t too much of an issue. As long as you had amazing content, the overall look of your website wouldn’t matter. Of course, times are a-changin’, and keeping your website fresh and updated is now a default strategy for any site owner. Site visitors have become more meticulous in choosing the company and brand to patronize, based on the websites that they visit. More than textual content and aesthetically pleasing web design, keeping your website fresh is of utmost importance to retain customers and encourage potential clients. If your website has been around for a while – and you’ve been using the same design and theme for years – maybe it’s time for a little upgrading. Especially when your site begins to get a steady increase in traffic, returning visitors may want to see the same outstanding features…

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Showcase Two Drupal Images Together with the Zurb TwentyTwenty Module

Zurb TwentyTwenty module is mostly intended to highlight the difference between two images on a Drupal site. One example use case is advertising images for skin products. Those images present half of the face before applying the product and half of the face after applying it. Besides doing direct comparisons between images, you can use this module for other purposes as well. In this tutorial, you will learn how Zurb TwentyTwenty module works. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit for full links, other content, and more! ]] Source:

You Just Changed My Workflow

Good products challenge people to rethink their existing workflows and consider changing them so that they might adopt the new tool. This requires time and patience, trial and error, and can even create a lot of anxiety. The difference between a good product and a great one is that a great one simply changes the user’s workflow magically. And, it really does feel like magic when it works well. Instead of anxiety it can create excitement. Instead of the user feeling as if their investing time that they can’t afford to invest they, instead, feel that their time is well-spent. This is the aim of any good product designer and developer. Our goal is to fundamentally transform your existing workflow(s) for the better. And, if we do our job well, then, we can be handsomely rewarded for it. CryptoYum Development — Nov, 2017 I’m working on two current mobile (iOS) applications right now…

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Keeping Up With The Kardashians — The Secret To Their Success

Today I woke up to the headline that Khloé Kardashian brought her own lighting gear and crew to her driver’s license photo.How silly. How vain. Khloé wanted her new ID photo to be better than what comes “out of the box”. The author of the article advised readers that if you pull a move like this “expect people to make fun of you.”But, I think that’s actually the biggest secret to the Kardashian family’s success…In 1968, Bibb Latané and John Darley, professors of Psychology at Columbia and New York University respectively, performed an experiment. They would put a test subject in a room and have that subject answer a questionnaire. But then they created an emergency. The room would start to fill with smoke from a vent. No alarms. No one else in the room. Just a growing uncomfortable amount of smoke.75% of the test subjects reported the smoke. It’s a little surprising it’s…

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How Do You Focus?

Especially when you have a lot to doPhoto by Tim GouwA friend of mine, Lachlan Campbell, recently asked me how I focus, especially when there’s so much going on. It’s a great question and I’m sure very apropos to Lachlan’s life. He’s a student, budding entrepreneur, and just a busy busy person.One thing I know is that the most common advice is to “turn off distractions”. There’s software to measure your time. Uninstall apps. Hack your computer’s DNS to make sure when you visit a site like Hacker News it ends up doing nothing. These all have a valid place.But I think there’s a meta problem that needs to be solved first.When I was a sophomore in high school I was insanely stressed out. As a freshman, I had the number one rank so I felt a lot of pressure to keep my grades sky high. I was a decent volleyball player, practiced all year…

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XR: VR, AR, MR—What's the Difference?

What is XR? Extended Reality (XR) refers to all real-and-virtual environments generated by computer graphics and wearables. The ‘X’ in XR is simply a variable that can stand for any letter. XR is the umbrella category that covers all the various forms of computer-altered reality, including: Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR). Virtual Reality For ease, let’s start with a topic many of us are already familiar with—Virtual Reality (VR). VR encompasses all virtually immersive experiences. These could be created using purely real-world content (360 Video), purely synthetic content (Computer Generated), or a hybrid of both. This medium requires the use of a Head-Mounted Device (HMD) like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Google Cardboard. VR has its own spectrum in and of itself. On one end you have WebVR, the simplest and most accessible form, and on the other you have Fully-Immersive VR, like Multi-sensory…

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Acquia Engage 2017 keynote

This October, Acquia welcomed over 650 people to the fourth annual Acquia Engage conference. In my opening keynote, I talked about the evolution of Acquia’s product strategy and the move from building websites to creating customer journeys. You can watch a recording of my keynote (30 minutes) or download a copy of my slides (54 MB). I shared that a number of new technology trends have emerged, such as conversational interfaces, beacons, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and more. These trends give organizations the opportunity to re-imagine their customer experience. Existing customer experiences can be leapfrogged by taking advantage of more channels and more data (e.g. be more intelligent, be more personalized, and be more contextualized). I gave an example of this in a blog post last week, which showed how augmented reality can improve the shopping experience and help customers make better choices. It’s just one example of how these…

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Sketching Interfaces

From the same team that worked on the incredibly wild idea of using React to make Sketch documents comes an even wilder idea: Sketching seemed like the natural place to start. As interface designers, sketching is an intuitive method of expressing a concept. We wanted to see how it might look to skip a few steps in the product development lifecycle and instantly translate our sketches into a finished product. In other words, a camera looks at the sketches, figures out what design patterns are being insinuated, and renders them in a browser. I wouldn’t doubt design tooling gets this sophisticated in coming years. Mostly I think: if your design team is this forward thinking and experimental, you’ve done a fantastic job putting a team together. Hopefully you can keep them happy designing travel websites, or somehow pivot to design tooling itself. Direct Link to Article — Permalink Sketching Interfaces…

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