Stories in Digital Business: Follow the decisions that make the metrics better

Pivotdesk

By Kelly Taylor, VP of Product and Co-founder at PivotDesk

Here’s the thing about startups: You have a great idea, you employ some smart people, slap up a website, and the next thing you know, you are running a business with 20 employees in 29 markets.

There’s never enough time or resources to do all of the things you should do to help grow your business because you’re too busy actually making the idea work. With so much going on, it’s easy to let measuring metrics fall to the wayside. It’s a ton of work and your whole team has to be on board, but neglecting this can also result in one of your biggest missed opportunities.

One of the best things about being a lean, mean startup is that you can make a game-changing decision without going through the bureaucracy and red tape that impedes the behemoths. But what information are you using to make those decisions?

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Stories in Digital Business: The Customer is Still Correct

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So you’re building a digital product! Be it a financial SaaS platform, a blog, or a twitter account, there’s one simple lesson that can help guide you during any part of the process and help attract and retain users, and help create a corporate culture that energizes and excites developers.

Here it is: Open a dialogue with potential customers. No matter what stage your business or product is in, it is always vital to talk to the folks who will be (or currently are) using the product. You can do this via Twitter, an e-mail form on your site, LinkedIn, Facebook, forums, Reddit, Twitch, or even in-person. You don’t have to do them all at once, or respond to every message. But reaching out and asking can bring in ideas, solutions, and re-shape your thinking.

An example I’ll use is a personal one. I founded Shado Sports Ventures back in July with the intent of creating a fantasy sports platform that integrated finances. I posted on the /r/fantasybaseball (among others) Reddit asking for some feedback and to see if there was interest. Early on, we had a basic website that had a form asking users to “Convince Us” that they’d be great for our beta test. What we got on Day 3 changed our entire approach:

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3 Ways to Use Software Consultants to Attract Full-Time Coders

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In the Boston startup scene, finding a CTO or technical cofounder can be difficult and time consuming. The coders that are willing to take the risk and join a new venture often hear more pitches than they know what to do with, and ideas that are unproven or difficult to demonstrate without a prototype can be harder to sell. If you’re running into the Catch-22 of needing to have a technical team member in order to build a business to attract a technical team member, consulting groups can help you fill in the talent gap. Here are some ways to use a consulting group to help attract full-time talent.

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Version Control: Development Insurance

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If you’re just beginning to dive into the world of software, chances are you’ve never heard of Version Control. However, you’ll quickly find that it’s an absolute necessity when building applications. Whether you’re an engineer, product owner, or marketer, it’s an essential aspect of maintaining projects.

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9 Things to Look For When Hiring Someone to Build Your Website or Mobile App

Man writing on the paper in the office

There are lots of software contracting groups out there. Finding the right one to build a website for your small business is a high-stakes decision. One of the questions that we get consistently from non-technical entrepreneurs and small business owners is how to know which group to hire. Here’s a quick guide to finding the right fit for business owners who don’t have a technical background.

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Sustainable Software for High-Growth Startups

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Learning to balance speed and sustainability can be a difficult thing in the world of start-ups. Throughout the iterative process of bootstrapping prototypes together, it can be easy to get lost in the mess of code and end up scrapping weeks worth of work. Unfortunately, small companies with minimal funds don’t have the luxury of detailed structure design. For the sake of market testing and fundraising, it is far more prudent to get a product in front of consumers as soon as possible. In a recent interview with ABC News, Reddit Co-founder agrees with this sentiment, stating that too many start-ups “get caught up with the idea.” Learning to balance rapid iteration and scalable design is an unfortunately necessary lesson that startups often learn the hard way.

That being said, how can a small start-up save them-self from constantly scrapping the majority of their code in the process of rapid prototyping? How can they make their code as scalable as possible while still anticipating extreme changes to the program or product? The answer to this question isn’t as cut and dry as one might hope, but there are a few questions to keep in mind which could save your product.

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Small Businesses’ Guide to a Great Website

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A website can be one of the most worthwhile investments that your company can make. With millions of people browsing the web every second, a well-designed website can direct traffic to your business, present a professional image of your company, and give you all the tools you need to secure additional revenue sources and opportunities. However, taking full advantage of the power of the web can be a time consuming process, and small businesses with limited resources can often feel the web is overwhelming.

That’s not to say that keeping up is impossible for small businesses. Some of the most important tasks simply involve managing the content on your site. I am going to focus on these optimizations in this article, in the hopes of empowering small businesses with the full reach of the web.

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The Growing Importance of User Experience

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In the early days of web development, design practices (as they pertained to users) took a back seat to programmatic optimization and testing.  The intuitiveness of product usage was of little value so long as the full extent of functionality was successfully implemented somewhere within the product.  For years this mentality was the driving factor of software development leaving users to fend for themselves when it came to actually using products.  In many cases, software was designed so poorly that companies would hire employees for the sole purpose of using it.  This attitude towards development has survived well past its prime, but the last several years have begun to reveal the beginning of a new era in development.

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