Balsamiq Update: Week of Feb 4th
Hello friends. Here's what happened in Balsamiq-land this past week.
In this post:
- Product Updates: Mockups and FlatWorld
- Website Update
- Beta Updates
- Business Updates
- What I'm reading
- How I'm feeling
Product Update: Mockups
I finished the "group/ungroup" feature (try them and let me know, there might be bugs) and added the following control types:
- Date Chooser
- Numeric Stepper
Which brings the current control type count to 41.
I also made the SWF size smaller by removing some icons, and fixed some other bugs here and there. The app should be fairly smooth to use right now, please let me know if you think otherwise.
What's next: this week I will redo all icons, and hopefully add some of the following controls: Vertical Tabs, Volume Slider, Google Text Ads Column, Banner Ad, Media Controls and a Video Player. The list goes on.
Try it out: http://www.balsamiq.com/mockups/tryit.html
Product Update: FlatWorld
I spent some time this week cleaning up the demo for my free, to-be-used-for-marketing plugin ("loss leader"? Is that the term?), which I renamed FlatWorld (riding on the popular "The World is Flat" book). I created a page for it, added an "empty state", simplified the UI and fixed some bugs. I also added a quick red/yellow/green indicator based on working hours (thanks for the idea Andrew).
Try it out: http://www.balsamiq.com/flatworld/index.html
It's got bugs, but it's a start. Let me know what you think
I spent some time re-learning CSS (yuck) so that I can make the website "my own" more. It's not been fun, but I can't afford a graphic/web designer so I'll suck it up and get there eventually. Ah, the joys of bootstrapping.
I also started this page (I know, it's super-ugly right now): http://www.balsamiq.com/directory.html and linked it straight from the home page. Basically it lists my competitors as well as my own products. If I can make it catch on I think it will improve my image but more importantly my search rankings. We'll see. First priority now is to make it look better :) Oh, and I will write some code that sends people to that page directly when they go to www.webofficeplugins.com, which I own.
Another concern I have with the website right now is that what I am doing might not be super-clear to people who don't already work the Web Office way. Arguably those are not my target customers but I feel that I shouldn't turn anyone away...also, I have to go through every piece of text and make sure I'm "selling the benefits and not the features".
I have been getting some very encouraging feedback from some of you guys (thanks, it means a lot), and some were accidentally sent to everyone. I don't mind, just remember to look at the address before you hit "send" :)
I am also looking to open up the beta a little more, I think I will invite some former colleagues/mentors/friends this week. If you know anyone that you think would be interested let me know!
Another feature on the list for all my plugins is to instrument them so that I can track how much you are using them and what features you are using exactly. Maybe this week.
I looked at OpenSAM http://www.opensam.org/ this week and it seems worth doing, but not right away. I could use it as free marketing if I could get my logo on their page but I'll probably just wait until some customer asks for it. Gliffy added support for OpenSAM a couple of months ago I noticed, not sure why.
Speaking of Gliffy: I looked at their website and I felt a little panicky...they seem to be overwhelmed by bugs and feature requests and forum posts and who knows what: I think they are trying to please too many people, which is hard. Still, I should brace for the tide too. Oh, and I have decided to go meet with them sometime before I leave, I got nothing to lose and people like to give advice.
Branding: I am having dinner with one of my advisors on Friday to talk "company name". Balsamiq has grown on me but it's still not focused on the customer enough: Balsamiq is about me and my software, not about the benefits to the end-user. What do you think of 9to3 (or ninetothree or 923 or all of the above) as another name? Basically my point is that you'll be so productive if you use my software that you'll be able to go home early every day. Anyways, this stuff is hard, and Rob is the man. Stay tuned.
I also got worried this week that the "web office plugins" space might be too small a niche for me to fill long-term, but I quickly reminded myself that most successful startups end up doing something quite different than what they were funded for (at least that's what I read), so who knows what I'll be doing long-term, it's not worth worrying about it. I'll just try to be successful in the next two years to start. :)
What I'm Reading
I finished reading "Optimizing Web Usability" by J.Nielsen and started "The Art of the Start" by Guy Kawasaki. Both excellent, I LOVE getting advice from people who know their stuff. Although it gives me a bit of a sinking feeling sometimes...I have a lot to learn and long way to go.
How I'm feeling
Stress level is pretty high right now. We are meeting with our landlord on the 18th to decide "when we're getting out of here" and the terms of our payout. So it's getting more real every day. The prospect of quitting my job at Adobe (which I still love) is also very stressful, I have a lot to do before I leave and there's not much time left. I have been rehearsing the "I'm quitting" conversation with my boss in my head over and over...I hate to do this to him but I just have to. Anyways, the countdown has started, and there's lots to do: more on that in the next updates I'm sure.
Ok, that's it. Thanks for reading and keep that feedback coming!
Until next week,