Friday, May 23, 2008

We've been busy!

It's been a busy month for us here at Coordinatr. We have been working on making Coordinatr more robust which unfortunately means that when we deploy the changes, you don't get to see anything new :-(. However, we just rolled out an update that has a few user-facing features that are worth mentioning!

First, we began an initial redesign of the notifications page. Instead of tons of checkboxes, you'll now see radio buttons which more clearly indicate if you will receive a notification or not. If you haven't checked out the page, take a look at http://coordinatr.com/profile/notifications.

Next, we have some improvements to the events pages. Any URLs you enter in the description of the event or post in a comment will now be displayed as a clickable link. For readability, if the link is long, we chop out the middle when we display it, but clicking on it will still take you to the full URL. Also on the event page, some people experienced an issue when trying to login using the modalbox. This happens when you aren't logged into the site, but get to the event page by clicking on a link in an email. This should now be resolved. Sorry about that one!

Last, but certainly not least, we updated some of the emails and SMS messages. For example, you can now RSVP to an event directly from the Invite email. We're also including the full date and time of the event in the SMS invite messages so that everyone will be able to make an RSVP choice from the initial message.

I know this might seem a bit underwhelming but like I said, we've been making a lot of changes that aren't necessarily visible to you guys and gals. As always, if you have any suggestions or requests, shoot us an email or use the feedback tab on the site.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When You're on the Go...

The premise of Coordinatr has always been to enable users to quickly and efficiently create last minute events. This objective actually runs counter to us providing a service via a website that requires you to be at a laptop or desktop.

What if you're on the way to your event and you find that it's closed? (this actually just happened to me last Monday) Or you're running out of drinks at the BBQ and want to let people know that they should stop by the store and pick some up?

And let's be honest...you've spent the week working and you're definitely not going to be on the computer during the weekend. How can you be notified of last minute events then?

We've been working on solving that little conundrum. In fact, we just pushed out the functionality for users and event creators to interact with their events over SMS (text message).

Here's how it works:

  1. Go into your account, go to settings and then communications. Enter in your phone number and choose your cell phone provider. That's all the prep work...done!

  2. Now every time one of your friends invites you to a last minute event, you'll get a text message. Here's the great part though...if you want to respond to the event, all you have to do is reply back with the following:

    To RSVP Yes:
    rsvp y

    To RSVP No:
    rsvp n

    To add a comment to the event (no quotes):
    comment "your comment here"

  3. The event will be automatically updated with your RSVPs and comments, without you ever looking at a computer. Even better, you'll receive updates and messages from the event creator, so you'll always be on top of the event.

  4. Now additionally, if you're the event creator, you have one additional command that really comes in handy. You'll receive a text message as well on event creation, and you can reply to it with the following command:

    To blast a message to all invitees:
    msg "your message here"
Pretty awesome huh? Well, we think so at least. We're continuing to work on the mobile aspect of the service, so we'll keep you posted of the next big push.

Oh, in addition to the SMS functionality, we've updated the wording of the emails to be a bit more clear, as well made some more interface tweaks to make things easier to use. Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why Register?

We've been asking ourselves the same question recently. Ever since we launched, we've been directing coordinatr.com to the main registration page. Our mentality was that it was so simple to register, that people would sign up and try out the site without thinking twice.

Not the case.

In reality, we underestimated how much the registration page turned people off from the site. We failed to liken registration to anything in the real world. Would you buy a car without test driving it? How about a book without flipping through it? Maybe a shirt without trying it on once? No, people love the chance to take a look at something before they fully commit to it. It took a few weeks to beat that into our skulls, but we finally wizened up to this very basic fact: you need to sell users on why they should use your site before they will even think of registering.

So I'm pretty sure you can guess what we did, right? We've added in the "test drive" functionality to the site. Rather than redirecting you to a simple registration page, we outline the very basic premise of what the site is all about: enabling you to quickly create simple events...and then let you do just that...all without registering. We allow you create an event, add friends, write messages, change dates and locations, add more friends...basically let you fully interact with the event, before ever asking for an email address and password.

Finally, before making the event live and sending invites to all of your friends, we ask you to quickly register. Ah ha! You knew it would happen sometime, right? Well, yes, but only so the event creator is able to easily manage their event now and in the future. Everyone else is still able to access the event without registering.

So there you have it, our new approach to simple event creation. Give it a try when you have a chance. We'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Navigation Changed!

Yes, yes it did. But only a little.

We found out recently that users were having a hard time getting back to the main dashboard page after they had navigated away. We had originally designed the navigation to have the Coordinatr logo return back to the dashboard page, and had assumed that was clear to everyone else.

It wasn't. Sorry...our bad!

We had users commenting that they saw the dashboard once and then never again. In order to correct that little logic flaw, we've implemented an extra navigation option: the home link. Use it any time you want to get back to the dashboard, or "home".

While we were at it, we figured we'd make some more tweaks to the navigation. We now have submenus for each section. By clicking the name of a section in the navigation bar, you're brought to the main page of that section. You can then use the submenus to navigate within that section. The drop down menus are still available by clicking on the drop down arrows next to each section name, in case you want to skip directly to a page in a different section of the site.

Some slight tweaks were also made to font sizes, colors, positioning etc., across the site. Explore and let us know if you like the new changes!

One more thing...we're looking to roll out a big site feature very soon. Keep an eye out for it!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

On User Feedback

User feedback is a term used constantly in the startup world. It’s the driving force behind the concept of “launch early and often”. It bridges the chasm between making decisions based on what you “think” users want and what they “actually” want. Everyone’s heard this before, so let’s not beat a dead horse.

Rather, I want to talk about the differing types of user feedback. We constantly discuss as if all feedback was created equal…it’s not. Since the launch of Coordinatr three weeks ago, we’ve gotten feedback from hundreds of individuals. While parsing through it all, it became very clear that we could define and place feedback in three different categories, based on content and recommendation type.

Here are the three categories that we identified:

The first category consists of users’ feelings about the site itself. It contains no recommendations for features or discovered bugs, rather it provides the startup with a different sort of feedback: that users like and are actually using the site. This is huge for a startup just getting off the ground as it provides the motivation and reassurance that what they have been toiling over for the past few months, or even years, has not been in vane. It provides that extra motivation to make another pot of coffee and put in a few more hours of productive work…and every little bit counts in a startup.

The second category is the broadest one. It consists of feedback relating to discovered bugs, features that competitors have and users think you should too, and “nice to haves”. This is the category where we find the greatest volume of feedback, and it’s necessary to parse through all of it to find the discovered bugs and to get an overall feel of what features you really need to focus on. Category two is the reason you launched, to get as much feedback as possible, so you need to get your hands dirty with this one and dig in. Trust us, it’s worth it.

The third category is the one with the least amount of feedback, but some of it can be pure gold. It’s where you find user feedback from people like site designers, fellow entrepreneurs and startup specialists, and coders. This is the feedback from people who use the site, can identify flaws and areas where you can do better, and make recommendations to that effect. After you’ve been working on a site for months on end, you tend to lose the ability to look at it objectively anymore…this is the solution. If you can find even one or two users who can look at your site with fresh eyes and provide knowledgeable advice and recommendations, well that in itself was worth the pain of launching.

We’ve been lucky enough to get feedback in each one of these categories, and would like to thank all of our users for taking the time to use the site and shoot us off their thoughts and suggestions. We can’t improve without you, so keep up the good work!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Invite Friends

This weekend brings more updates to Coordinatr. One highly requested feature we implemented is to allow invited friends to add additional friends to an event. This feature is enabled by default for all new events but can be disabled at any time by simply unchecking a box on the event creation page.

We'll be releasing some big updates in the next few weeks that we're really excited about check back often!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What About “Maybe”?

Since we launched Coordinatr, one of the biggest areas of feedback that we’ve received has pertained to event responses, or more specifically the lack of the “maybe” option. Some people really like the missing option, forcing users to make a decision and choose whether they will be attending. Others don’t…at all. They’ve become so used to sites like Evite allowing people to respond as “maybe” that they feel entitled to it now.

We spent a good bit of time debating this point, whether the best way was to cater to the norm and provide the “maybe” option, or to buck it and go against the grain. Normally, one would think that’s an obvious choice. Why would you want to do something different when you’re trying to get off the ground? Do what people are used to and you’ll have a much higher acceptance rate. That’s a logical argument, right?

In the end, it came down to the fact that we built Coordinatr as a solution to a problem we were having: coordinating people for events. One of the most frustrating things that we experienced when creating events with other services was for a majority of the attendees to respond as “maybe”. This was especially true for events where reservations at an establishment were necessary and “maybe” threw the count off drastically. Thus, it was finally decided that we would like the site more, and hopefully our users would too, if we eliminated the “maybe” option from the event responses.

Overall, even though we’ve gotten some complaints, people have taken to the system. Users have begun selecting the “yup” or “nope” options, and then clarifying if they might be able to attend or miss using the message board functionality, which is precisely how we envisioned the system being used. This allows the event creator the ability to more accurately determine who is going to show up, and lets the users explain their situation before the event begins.

If you want to read a great blog post promoting the elimination of the “maybe” option, check out: “Maybe” is one option too many by Jeffrey Zeldman.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Unicode Now Supported

We updated the site again last night which brought a highly requested feature: Unicode is now supported allowing you to create events using all kinds of characters! We've been pleasantly surprised by the amount of international attention the site has received and we thank everyone who has tried it out and told their friends. Most text that shows up as a question mark on the site will need to be updated before it is displayed correctly, so login and check it out at http://coordinatr.com.

We have a lot planned for the future so keep in touch and let us know how we're doing!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Profile Pages, Calendar Feeds and Press

We released some more updates to the site tonight, including profile pages for each person, calendar feeds so that event updates are reflected immediately in your 3rd party calendars, and a press page to highlight the coverage we've been getting over the past few days.

The profile page for each person is something that we've been toying with for a while. We've been attempting to buck the stigma of being another social networking site, and we were afraid that adding profiles would only perpetuate that image. In the end though, we found that having a page which enabled users to view larger profile pictures of friends, along with some additional details, greatly enhanced the usability of the site and allowed users to more easily create events and invite friends.

The calendar feed options that we present now allow you to add in a feed only once to a calendar, and have that automatically updated when changes are made to an event. This way you don't have to keep importing updated events and hassling with attachments.

The press page reflects some of the most popular coverage we've received since we launched last Thursday, along with the press release that we issued, and a print ready version of our logo. You can reach the press page through the "About" link on the main page of the site.

We're working like mad to tailor the site to your needs, so keep the feedback coming!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Launch Aftermath

We're quite happy to announce that the Coordinatr.com launch yesterday was a great success! The press release went out as scheduled and we were picked up by big and little blogs alike.

Here are some of the great write-ups we received:

mashable
killerstartups
genbeta (international - Spain)

We want to say a big thanks to everyone who checked out the site and gave us feedback!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We Launched Today!

Well, we've finally done it. Yup, that's right, we launched. Figured it was about time. No more dragging our heels. Here's our Press Release!:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20080313/bs_prweb/prweb769684

We decided that it was better to get the site out there and being used by a wider audience, and subsequently getting more feedback, than to continue developing and making decisions based on our own assumptions of user likes and dislikes.

That said, we updated the site late last night one final time before today, so be sure to check out the new demo video and other little tweaks we made. As always, please keep the feedback coming!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Keep track of your events with a Personal Event RSS Feed

We'd like to introduce you to our newest feature: a Personal Event Feed. Once you enable to the feed by clicking on Event Feed under the Settings menu, you can add the link to your favorite RSS reader! From the Feed, you can view all of the details about the event and save it as an ICS file for iCal and Outlook or save it directly to your Google Calendar. We're really excited about this features because it shows that we're committed to providing you with access to your information from ANYWHERE!

Lots of other little updates were also implemented which improve the overall usability of the site. If you have any questions or comments, as always, let us know by replying to the blog, or leaving us feedback on the site. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

More updates based on your feedback

It has been a week since we posted last, but we haven't been idle. Tonight we rolled out one of the most requested features! Friends that you invite to an event are no longer required to register. Instead, they can click on the link in the email and go straight to the event page where they will be able to comment, RSVP, and view the ShareSpace page. If they choose to register in the future, we will automatically associate all of their past events with their account.

A bunch of other fixes were rolled out as well so take a look and let us know what you think. As always, keep the feedback coming!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Updates to the Site

Just a quick note to update everyone on changes that we've made based on the feedback we received. Changes just went into effect a few minutes ago, so feel free to login and check them out for yourselves.

Update list:

  • Ability to export event to Google Calendar, iCal and MS Outlook
  • Updated the Calendar on the Create Event page to reflect the current date and prevent people from selecting prior invalid dates
  • Tweaked wording across the site
  • Added another update button to prevent scrolling
  • Added ability to select all of your friends on the Create Event page
  • Feedback box is easier to use (so keep giving us feedback!)
  • Provide all the event info now in the event email notification
  • Lots of little changes across the site

Take a look when you have a chance and let use know what you think! We have a lot more changes planned so keep checking back!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thanks to Everyone Who Provided Feedback

We just wanted to give a quick shout out to everyone who took a look at the site and provided feedback during the past two days since we released to news.yc. We've been busy parsing through the many responses and prioritizing updates to the site based on your feedback and recommendations, so be sure to check back often to see your updates incorporated into the site.

Have a great weekend everyone! Thanks again for taking the time to check out Coordinatr.com

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Posted to news.ycombinator.com today

Well, we've finally done it...we've taken the plunge and posted the site to news.yc for feedback from the startup community. You can find the post here:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=120550


If you've stumbled upon us from some other source, then please, by all means register and start creating! Just navigate to:

http://coordinatr.com

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just getting started

We're almost ready to show the world what we've been doing for the past 5 months. Subscribe to this blog feed and we'll let you know the minute we're ready!