Scaling your product offering after launch

You’ve launched your product. Customers are purchasing and everything is going really well. You’ve reached the point where your product contains all of the features you feel are necessary in the core offering, yet you want to expand. Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how to expand once having reached this perceived plateau. Continue reading

Predicting The Success Of Your Product

One area of business building and product development is predicting the success of the product, before launch. This is one area everyone tries to get as accurate as possible, in search of the one unifying metric to unite all and predict accurate success trends. Methodologies such as the lean startup approach aim to ensure as accurate a product success rating as possible, by approaching the project from a customer-centric point of view (if you build what they want, they will come). Now that we’ve discussed how to get customer feedback, lets discuss how we make use of this feedback in our approach to product planning. Continue reading

Finding Your First Customers

Building a new product or business is a really exciting process. There is no feeling quite like the feeling of seeing an idea through to it’s final product. What many founders forget to consider is the day after launch day. The business needs to sustain itself, at the very least to cover the upfront setup and production costs.

We’re all well aware that customers pay for products or services, which generates income for the business and assists with growing and sustaining the business. Therefore, if no customers purchase products or services from the business, there is no growth and the business will rapidly crumble. Today, we’ll discuss how to find your first customers, creating a solid foundation for business growth. Continue reading

Introduction to WordPress Plugin Development

When working with open source software, the project is largely driven by passion and volunteers within the community surrounding the project. With WordPress powering an ever-increasing percentage of today’s websites, the project has fostered a large community of dedicated and passionate users and developers.

While contributing to WordPress can take many forms (even using WordPress to build websites for clients can be seen as a contribution), many folks simply don’t know where to start when it comes to contributing to the community and project in a way which may involve code or a deeper dive into the community such as event organisation.

As WordPress Cape Town, we elected to host an event where we held workshops about how to contribute to various areas of the WordPress project. I was fortunate enough to run the WordPress plugin development introduction. Below are the slides from my workshop. Continue reading

Communications Theory in Product Design

As you all know, I love listening to podcasts and being creative. Listening to the myriad of podcasts that I do, I find concepts from one podcast often apply to the field discussed in one of the others. While listening to a podcast on trading card game design, the topic of communications theory and game design came up. I followed up by reading the related article by the podcast host, which sparked off an interesting thought process for me, around how communications theory helps to plug holes within product design. Here’s how I feel this applies. Continue reading

On lazy engineers and automating business

During my career as a senior developer, and as the head of a team of engineers and product managers, I’ve had to make only a few new hires. Fewer than one may think, in fact. Since 2007, I’ve been in charge of hiring perhaps 6-8 new staff members, which is unheard of, given I’ve only ever worked with fast-growing young tech companies. This small hiring pool got me thinking about the core need for why one needs to hire new engineers and subsequently the cultural reason why my team at WooThemes grows differently to other non-engineering teams within the same ecosystem. Here’s why I reckon this is the case. Continue reading

Learnings While Scaling WooCommerce

WooCommerce has, at the time of writing, passed over 6 million downloads (and several million active installations) on WordPress.org. What many aren’t aware of is, WooCommerce reached the 5 million download mark with only 3 engineers officially working full time on the project (while working on several other projects as well).

Throughout this process, we took away many learnings which we can apply to all future projects. I was fortunate enough to present these findings and learnings to the group at ScaleConf 2015, a popular tech conference here in Cape Town, South Africa.

The previous time I spoke on this stage at Kirstenbosch was at WordCamp Cape Town 2012, my fist large-scale public speaking endeavour. It felt great to be back on this stage!

Fostering creative thinking

At Woo, we recently picked up on the next steps of a StrengthsFinder assessment we conducted within our leadership team towards the end of 2013. This assessment aims to identify your top 5 strengths and assist you in harnessing them, while creating a better understanding of the strengths others possess and how best to relate to those you work with daily. The follow up steps of this assessment included a call with a leadership coach, where in we discuss our strengths, answer a few questions and better understand how to create the next steps in our strengths finding journey.

During my call with Horace (our coach), he mentioned the following, which stuck with me; “If you can explain to someone how you perform a particular task, that task is a learned behaviour. If you can’t explain the exact steps, that task is an inherent strength”. For me, this task was product architecture and analysis.

As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy listening to podcasts. I listen to a wide variety of different topics, and attempt to glean value from each, and apply that value in different contexts. One of those topics relates to creativity. Continue reading

Maximizing the value of customer feedback

Since appointing Patrick as our dedicated WooCommerce Product Manager towards the end of 2014, I’ve been able to view some really insightful feedback from customers, without customers even realising they’re providing this feedback. One of the tasks I assigned to Patrick was to conduct regular in-person user testing of WooCommerce, in order to pinpoint common pitfalls and benefits customers experience with our product.

The process involved here is Patrick contacting a customer and, in many cases, sitting alongside the customer, recording their screen (with their consent) and quietly observing how they get their online store up and running using WooCommerce. Continue reading

Set a custom rewrite rule for author archives in WordPress

In the comments of my post on custom rewrite rules in WordPress, I received a query regarding creating author profile URLs using a rewrite convention of “/profile“.

The WordPress author archives are a great way to create profiles for each author on your WordPress-powered website (in fact, it’s done for you by default). The author archives also make use of the “author.php” template file, if it exists in the theme, allowing for easy additions of custom information about the author, custom content from various areas of your website or links to their social media profiles. The question is, how can we leverage this and still have “/profile” as a part of the URL to each author’s archive screen?

Continue reading