As a creative, I like to identify interesting combinations of thoughts, and believe there is a connected-ness to all things. Thus, two seemingly unrelated topics, thoughts, or items can be combined based on the ways in which they are the same, and which they are different. Finding the common ground between two things, to my mind, is the definition of creativity. To this end, two experiences come to mind which I’d like to connect, under the banner of introducing an “open source” approach to things.
By definition, “open source” implies that the source code of a piece of software is visible to those who use the software. Thus, depending on the license the software is released through, the code can be tweaked and modified by the end user, to meet a new need. Open source software is often also developed in the open, which fosters a culture of transparency, collaboration, and trust between those using the software, who are often also the developers of the same. Two ideas in particular resonate for me, when considering open source; the considerations to be made during the development of the software, and the transparency and openness around sharing of ideas, concepts, and approaches.
I recently “took the plunge” and removed the Facebook app from my mobile phone. Frankly, I’d read simply too much about Facebook “listening in”, and decided it was time to curb this habit and see what happened. What happened next was enlightening, and sparked an interest in how to slowly curb this mindless habit.
All too often we are faced with roadblocks, hurdles and limitations within everything we do. Whether it’s in our personal, work or digital lives, there are often items which stand in the way of us achieving our goals. Success, however, comes flooding through when we remove or refactor these limiting beliefs.
Today, I’d like to share the story of how I removed a limitation, and submitted my first patch to WordPress core in the process.
When building your product, it’s important to get off the ground correctly by finding your first customers, gathering customer feedback and shipping your first minimum viable product. Once your product has launched and your market is enjoying what you have to offer, there is an important approach to take to ensure you’re staying relevant, satisfying your customers and enhancing your product to continue adding value. Today, I’ll run through the approach of what I refer to as the Lean Startup Loop.
The foundational principles of commerce have existed since a time long before any of us can most likely remember. The basic principle of “You have something I want. What would you like in exchange for it?” is one we take entirely as a given in today’s society. Spending my days focussing on eCommerce (humanity’s latest branch of commerce), I spend a significant amount of time dissecting the smaller details of this base principle. One such construct is the steps of the interaction; from desire to exchange.
Several weeks prior, I met with the head of a venture capital firm who focus largely on African markets. While discussing the differences between the various markets in central and west Africa, the concept of “buy now, pay later” was discussed. This sparked a series of thoughts on the topic and how we can leverage this principle to create a more pleasant purchasing experience for our would-be customers.
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.
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.
In the fast-paced, notification-driven, world we live in, it’s very easy to get whipped up in the “speed of the things”. We’re constantly after faster internet speeds, faster cars, hacks to improve our lives and save us a few moments here or there.
The same is true in business. We’re constantly seeking efficiency hacks and improvements to improve our time spend and allow more time for surfing and fun activities.
The past year has confirmed for me that slowing down is the best way to efficiently speed up. Here’s why.
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!
Almost 2 years ago, I blogged about how email is broken and that we’re all using it incorrectly. Mostly, I was referring to the sending of unnecessarily large files over email, not so much about the day to day use of email.
Every day this week, thus far, my email client has remained closed between 9am and 12pm. Closed. Every day.
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about email, how we use it and what it’s true purpose should be. At times, I’ve felt like my inbox controls me, rather than me controlling my inbox. Hence the periodic closure. Before you throw your hands up in disgust (“OMG! How dare you close your email?!”), let me jump into my email routine, as it stands today.