Starting Simple: Launching with the Minimum Viable Product

Venture Hacks has a great interview with serial entrepreneur Eric Ries that discusses the value of launching a startup with the “minimum viable product”: basically, the absolute most barebones product you can launch with while still being able to appropriately gauge customer interest, to avoid the common pitfall of spending months developing an idea only to realize that no one cares.

In spite of the fact that parts of the interview sound like it was recorded at a high school basketball game, Eric provides some great insight, even suggesting at one point to “launch” an idea with just marketing materials and an ad campaign, and no backing product. Based on the clickthrough/conversion rate when customers move to subscribe or purchase your product or service, you can reasonably gauge how the idea might do.

There may be an argument to be made about potentially losing those individuals as sales, but you can ask their email, make up an excuse, or explain that things aren’t ready yet and thus limit your costs to just a simple ad campaign and marketing/informational site. If you’re presenting the idea as you will once it’s built, and no one is clicking through, it’s a good indication that you’re going to want to tweak the idea or that you’re headed down the wrong path.

The interview is split into two parts, and I’ve embedded the first part below.

What is the minimum viable product? (Part 1) | Venture Hacks
Opening Board Meetings (Part 2)

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Posted in: Cool Stuff

Google vs. Facebook Interface Design: Design by “Committee” vs. Baptism by Fire

Once again, Facebook has released a complete failure of a feature set or upgrade and been hit with such a strong backlash by their users (who, they assure us, are listened to even BEFORE launching such drivel) that they have had to backpedal to appease the masses. Facebook seems to have this bizarre mentality that shaking the etch-a-sketch and slapping the user in the face is a great way to spring new changes, regardless of the thoughts of their users or their preliminary feedback. Beacon, un-restricted Minifeed, new Facebook, new Facebook again, rape-and-pillage privacy policies—you would think someone over there would suggest that they NOT continue to learn these lessons the hard way, as one time of baptism by fire tends to be enough for most people.

With the exception of the penultimate “new Facebook”, they have had to rollback or significantly change tack from their initial position of “this is new and you’re going to like it,” forced  instead to listen to their users, post a mea culpa and attempt to save face with the global press and the blogosphere collectively rolling their eyes at each new foible. TechCrunch has an idiotic post about how when Facebook listens to their users, God kills a kitten for bowing to the masses and “designing by committee”. Robert Scoble backed this up with a misguided treatise about how Zuckerberg is on track to score billions from these changes and how they shouldn’t/wouldn’t start listening to their users. I call bullshit. Read More »

Posted in: Design, Rants

Better Memory Management Tools for Web Apps Coming Soon


Developing a “web 2.0″ application brings with it a host of new challenges previously unfelt or easily ignored with older, single-page-load-per-action apps. The browser has evolved from a simple page renderer to an application platform that busily executes JavaScript and receives, parses, and displays loads of new data without ever leaving the page. Developers are now struck with the challenge of ensuring their applications manage memory properly and efficiently—your JavaScript can leak memory, killing the user experience on your site, but also impacting the user’s complete experience with their system across the board.

To date, it’s been a bit of a struggle to manage memory, since developers are essentially forced to rely on their operating system’s memory managers to even monitor the memory usage of their browser. Even then, testing can be frustrating, as Firefox, for instance, stores all tabs in the same process. Google Chrome is multi-threaded; each tab is its own process. Chrome also features its own built in task manager, so you can identify which page is using exactly how much memory, CPU, and bandwidth. Even at its most detailed, the stats available only show aggregate memory and virtual memory usage—these abstract figures make troubleshooting individual pieces of your code difficult to say the least.

The folks over at Mozilla’s Developer Tools Lab are looking to change that by building a memory analysis tool that helps devs understand exactly how their application is using memory, and the behavior of the cycle (garbage) collector:

We plan on the initial implementation of this tool to be simple. For memory usage, we want to introduce the ability to visualize the current set of non-collectible JavaScript objects at any point in time (i.e., the heap) and give you the ability to understand why those objects aren’t collectible (i.e., trace any object to a GC root). For the cycle collector, we want to give you a way to understand when a collection starts and when it finishes and thus understand how long it took.

Ben Galbraith and the team are soliciting help and feedback, so if this is an issue you’ve had to deal with in the past, make sure you comment.

A New Memory Tool for the Web | Ben Galbraith’s Blog via Ajaxian

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Posted in: Cool Stuff, Development

10 Things That Suck About The New Facebook

Just eight short months ago, Facebook redesigned the home page for a logged in user. At the time, I bashed on the News Feed, as it made a poor use of whitespace and seemed haphazard and disheveled. Facebook took to repair and tighten the design down a good deal, and I grew to find it functional, informative, and useful.

Facebook began rolling out their new design two days ago, and it’s frankly simply terrible. The first thing you’ll notice about the Facebook redesign is that it looks a lot like a basic Twitter page. Facebook talks a lot about how this new layout helps show a “live stream of your social graph” and a lot of other nonsense that would seem completely applicable if they were switching from the new design to the old.

The reality is that they are angering their customers by making things difficult to find, dramatically altering the aesthetic and interface of the site, and in many people’s opinion, taking a dramatic step backwards in usability. My exposure to this nightmare of an interface began just today, but I get a distinct impression that it won’t grow on me like the last changes.

What don’t I like? Let’s take a look: Read More »

Posted in: Rants

Periodic Table of Typefaces


Design firm Squidspot has published a very cool and useful Periodic Table of Typefaces. They’re grouped roughly by “family” and “class” groupings, and ranked roughly based on their popularity from several different font ranks, though they’re loosely grouped in order to enforce the aesthetics of the table.

This will be very useful for anyone trying to play the mind-numbingly difficult Deep Font Challenge game. My personal favorite is Frutiger, followed very closely by Myriad. (Naturally, I also love and respect Helvetica and all its gifts to the world—I mean, it’s the only typeface to have a documentary produced about it, and is listed, quite fittingly, as the Hydrogen of the table.)

Periodic Table of Typefaces | Behance
Deep Font Challenge | via iLT

Posted in: Cool Stuff, Design