Posts Tagged: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.


Copywriting Q&A: Does Your Client Really Need a Sales Page?

Selling online used to be about driving visitors to a sales page and throwing as much persuasive copy at them as possible, then hoping they’d click the “buy now” button. Today, though, there are many different paths to a sale — and many that don’t even require a sales page. Read on… Today’s question comes from Marshall T., who asks, “I just started working with a new client. She’s a solopreneur and working with a business coach who told her that she doesn’t need a sales page for her product. Or, at least, that she can build that later once she’s gotten a few sales. This seems wrong to me. What do you think?” Even just a few years ago, selling without a sales page would be unthinkable. After all, if you don’t have a page to drive people to that has all of the details, how do you sell…

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Spread the word

Photo by lee Scott on UnsplashRecently a young actress had an audition for an important role. Problem was, she was up against ‘a far better actress’ competing for the part.Most of us find ourselves in that position. We want a chance. There’s just someone better.Back in early 2013 when I was still testing early versions of my writing software, Draft, a user emailed to tell me he lost his writing.Ugh. My system for auto-saving your writing still had a lot of trouble in non-perfect situations: older browsers, flakey internet connections, computer sleep, etc. He wasn’t happy, but was understanding as I helped rescue what I could.Today, through a lot of work and code, Draft’s autosave system is (knock on wood) much more bullet proof.But there have been many similar examples of that situation I was in. I had created writing software. It wasn’t the best writing software. But I was getting people to use it.How?I had realized…

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A Guide to Better Conversations with Developers

As an intern at Viget this summer, one of my required tasks was working with a team of other interns from other disciplines to complete a digital product. The experience was fantastic and I am very proud of the end result (check it out here). Surprisingly, however, the largest learning curve wasn’t developing in a new language or using unfamiliar libraries and frameworks or even programming within a new set of standards. It was team communication. Working with a group of other interns, fresh to the concept of working on a single project and with completely varying educational backgrounds, exacerbated typical professional communication difficulties. Although most of these difficulties were overcome throughout the project, one type of communication breakdown I observed on this project I have seen mirrored in other interactions throughout my time in school, in other internships, and in ongoing professional projects at Viget and other workplaces. A…

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Truly Simple Systems

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to build fundamentally simple systems, especially as it relates to software products. I think this is one of the best times for me to be thinking about them because I’ve got a startup and a team that’s building a massive and intelligent software solution for technology companies, especially for those at scale. And when I mean by “scale” I mean that some of our early customers are some of the biggest companies on the planet. I feel fortunate and grateful to have them as clients, that’s for sure. But it means that their environments and infrastructure and the organizational culture and systems within their businesses are equally as complex and difficult to understand. “Simple” simply isn’t an option or even a possibility at the scale at which these organizations work. And that’s not a bad thing, it means that our efforts to create…

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10 Email Marketing Strategies Your Clients Will Love

Website owners have a tough gig when it comes to choosing their marketing channels. Every year more platforms hit the scene and everyone involved in marketing wants to make them sounds as exciting as possible. This is why we get so much hype surrounding every development in the industry – from chatbots to voice search and every other non-event in between. Then we have email marketing, the most classic of all digital marketing channels – and still the most effective, despite sporting a few wrinkles. This is important, too. Because, aside from your clients’ website itself, email is the only modern marketing channel they actually own themselves. Every other channel is gobbled up by Google, Facebook and other corporations who dictate who they can interact with people (and how much they should pay for the privilege). Google even wants to gobble up our websites now with AMP, the greedy little…

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Crash Course: VR Design for N00bs

We have a tradition at Viget of experimenting with our own ideas, independent of client work. But, honestly, it’s been too long since we built something pointless. Today, we’re debuting our latest experiment in virtual reality—a WebVR adaptation of the classic circuit-board puzzle Lights Out. It’s a one-player game, with the objective of turning all the “lights” in the grid off. Sure, the final product is neat, but how did we get there? Jumping into the VR metaverse is overwhelming. I was disappointed to find there are tons of libraries for developers—but very few centralized resources for designers. As creatives, we pride ourselves on our ability to apply design thinking to everything. So, where are all the thought leaders in VR design? There’s little to no consensus around even the most basic design standards—like typography or accessibility. Basically, VR design is a wild west free-for-all. However, instead of seeing this as…

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7 Tips for the Aspiring UX Designer

This time last year, I had never heard of UX. Coming from a family of doctors, the only job-related acronym I knew was MD. But this changed during my summer in Silicon Valley, where I worked as a media intern with a startup accelerator and venture capital firm. Over the course of just three weeks, four colleagues told me that I should look into UX. I really think you would like this. You’d be so good at it! Thinking it was some sort of sign, I decided to give UX a try. It was love at first sight. From that point on, I spent my free time immersed in UX books, articles, and blogs. I had never felt so passionate about a field before.  I used my Christmas break to take an online UX course. I filled my schedule with phone calls with every UXer in my LinkedIn network. I…

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Reasons to Build Your Own App

I’m working on a very small To-Do iOS app and I’m sharing my process and my thoughts candidly through the process in a new YouTube playlist affectionately titled “Let’s Build an App“. As you already know, I’m heavily involved with my startup and that’s where 99% of my time goes, but, in the 1% I’m sloooooooooowly putting this thing together. And, for the first time ever, I have a new medium through which I can share the process which is my YouTube channel. Although I’ve been pretty candid and honest historically about these indie projects, I’ve always done it through blog posts and not through any video content. So, in that way, I’m having a good time with it and it’s a bit of a different feel, which is something that keeps it fresh for me. These are truly candid captures of my thoughts and there’s no established framework of my…

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Entrepreneur in Residence

Just a few years ago I didn’t even know that this type of role and/or position existed and, if I’m to be honest, I laughed at the concept and thought it was particularly stupid. I was wrong. It’s not stupid and it can actually be a decent place to be for a time as you find and discover your next gig. Late last year I shared a few thoughts on my vlog which can be found here: The only reason that I’m posting anything about it now is that I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it is and how one gets an “Entrepreneurship in Residence” role (almost as often as I get questions around Product Management roles). Especially since it’s been listed in my greater CV recently. My vlog post still does a fairly decent job of covering an overview of what an EIR could possibly entail but…

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All About React Router 4

I met Michael Jackson for the first time at React Rally 2016, soon after writing an article on React Router 3. Michael is one of the principal authors of React Router along with Ryan Florence. It was exciting to meet someone who built a tool I liked so much, but I was shocked when he said. “Let me show you our ideas React Router 4, it’s way different!” Truthfully, I didn’t understand the new direction and why it needed such big changes. Since the router is such a big part of an application’s architecture, this would potentially change some patterns I’ve grown to love. The idea of these changes gave me anxiety. Considering community cohesiveness and being that React Router plays a huge role in so many React applications, I didn’t know how the community would accept the changes. A few months later, React Router 4 was released, and I…

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Tips In Choosing Website Color Schemes (With BONUS Online Tools)

When you create a website, one of the first things that you need to focus on is web design. Aside from picking the right layout for your pages, your choice of color schemes can make or break the whole package. Color scheme is about considering the interplay of colors in three major aspects: complementation, contrast, and vibrancy. Choosing the right colors is one of the most difficult phases in web designing and the process can be very challenging especially for those who are new in the field. You should not worry too much, though, because there are available online tools that you can use to help you select the perfect color schemes to use for your page. What is the importance of colors in websites? Here are some of the reasons why choosing the right color schemes is extremely important: 1. Creates an emotional connection Colors generally trigger moods or…

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The Who, What, and Why of Product Management (from a Startup Founder’s Perspective)

I’ve been in “product management” for a long time, as long as I can remember and certainly since I first starting building my own small apps and digital products in the early 2000’s. But that terminology wasn’t codified in my own head at the time and the culture around product management has rapidly changed, progressed and matured, especially in the last few years. In fact, it has grown to the point where there’s an entire industry around it, specifically, and its significance within the business building has become much more elevated; it is even seen as a stepping stone for a future startup founder and CEO. I find that last point quite fascinating especially because my pathway to becoming a startup CEO myself never had anything so clearly and programmatically defined (but this post isn’t about how I feel about this and honestly it doesn’t really matter). For the record…

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How we do support at Highrise

When I joined the Highrise team in May of 2016, the support team wasn’t a team at all: it was a single person. Chris did everything, from answering emails, to maintaining our help site, to recording how-to videos. Just the emotional output from being “on” empathetically all day every day can be exhausting, so I came along to help.https://medium.com/media/6253e7219b384e5d2f4d597a9951b1b2/hrefAfter a few months of me getting up to speed we realized that while there were certain times that it made sense for both of us to be helping users, like first thing in the morning, for a portion of the day one of us answering emails was sufficient. So we started asking ourselves, what was the best way for us to not only help our users and teammates, but to take care of ourselves as well?As we started brainstorming the best way to accomplish that, we began by going through all of the…

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Three’s company

Who needs four?At Basecamp, three is a magic number.Nearly all product work is done by teams of three people. A team off three is usually composed of two programmers and one designer. And if it’s not three, it’s two or one — not four or five. We don’t throw more people at problems, we chisel problems down until they can be tackled by three people, at most.We rarely have meetings at Basecamp, but when we do, you’ll hardly ever find more than three people around a table. Same with conference calls or video chats. Any conversation with more than three people is typically a conversation with too many people.What if there are five departments involved in a project or a decision? There aren’t. Too many dependencies. We don’t work on projects like that — intentionally.What is it with three? Three is a wedge, and that’s why it works. Three has a sharp point. It’s an odd number so…

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Assumptions

In 1952, the Boston Symphony Orchestra put up a screen during musician auditions to make them “blind”. They had been hiring more men than women and were trying to figure out if they were biased in their hiring. Still, the audition results skewed towards men. Why?There’s a bar my wife and I like to visit near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf called The Buena Vista. They serve a delicious Irish Coffee. Even more memorable is Larry Nolan one of their frequent bartenders. If you go there during the week, sit at the bar. You might get a special chance to see Larry perform magic while you enjoy your coffee.A few weeks ago my wife, three year old, and I travelled to the Bay Area. My sister-in-law just had surgery and we went to help with chores and recovery. Things like driving the kids to school, taking her to appointments, etc. We spent a…

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Designing Between Ranges

CSS is written slowly, line by line, and with each passing moment, we limit the space of what’s possible for our design system. Take this example: body { font-family: ‘Proxima-Nova’, sans-serif; color: #333; } With just a couple of lines of CSS we’ve set the defaults for our entire codebase. Most elements (like paragraphs, lists and plain ol’ divs) will inherit these instructions. But what we rarely think about when we write CSS is that from here on out we’ll have to continuously override these rules if we want another typeface or color. And it’s those overrides that cause a lot of issues in terms of maintenance and scalability. And it’s those issues that cost us heartbreak, time and money. In the example above that’s probably not an issue but I think in general we don’t recognize the true strength and dangers of the cascade and what it means to our…

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Daniel Craig— Flip flopper

In celebrity news this week, Daniel Craig will be back as 007 in the next James Bond film slated to be in theaters Nov 8, 2019. (My birthday by the way. Thanks MGM)But his return is quite the surprise for us interested in the movie franchise. When Time Out asked Daniel about returning for the next Bond movie after Specter in 2015, Daniel let us know:I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists.Daniel Craig is a giant flip flopper…As many families do, after a long week, my wife and I don’t feel like cooking on Friday night, so we look to eat out. We are terrible however with the decision about where to go.We simply don’t care enough. I’m not a picky eater. I don’t feel strongly about most restaurants we can choose. We hem and haw about going to this place or that place. I remember nights where we would eventually just give…

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Dear Blue Apron,

This is one of those open letters of advice. It’s from a friend, me. And it’s free advice. So it might be worth just that — nothing.But I, and probably everyone else, noticed Amazon encroaching on your business. And since I’m a big fan, and we at Highrise have weathered some intense competition too, I thought some of our learnings might trigger something for you.Also, you and I both understand, I know absolutely nothing about your business or running a public company. I hate those open letters that are like “YOU NEED TO DO THIS”. You don’t. I suspect you’ll be fine if you just stay true to yourselves.So even if this doesn’t help you, maybe it’ll help someone else.Know ThyselfWhen I took over as CEO of Highrise in 2014 — which was also the same week I signed up for Blue Apron! :) — I really had no idea what I had on my hands. I didn’t create…

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