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!