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

Create customer loyalty through storytelling

The craft beer craze has been around in Cape Town for some time now. While out for a day in the sun with friends this past weekend, we got onto the subject of what sets craft beer apart from commercially brewed beer. While not a huge beer drinker myself, I found something really special in this conversation.

The key point in favour of craft beer, aside from the taste, is the story behind the beer and the brewery. Through the discussion, we ascertained that one feels more connected to the beer, and thus more likely to purchase and consume it, if one understands a bit about where the beer came from. This is creating a sense of connection and loyalty between the customer and the product/manufacturer.

Lets try and prove or refute this concept by applying it elsewhere. Continue reading

The 30 Day List

I really enjoy listening to podcasts. Over time, I’ve racked up a few ranging from game design and theory, all the way through to fitness and personal finance. I’ve recently really enjoyed listening to Listen Money Matters (thanks for the tip, Patrick!), a podcast about personal finance.

During an episode I listened to a few weeks ago, the concept of a 30 day list was mentioned, as a way to curb impulse buying. The premise is, if you want to make a purchase, place the items on a list and ignore it for 30 days. Once 30 days are up, revisit the list and see if you’re still interested in making the purchase. If you are, go ahead and plan for it. If not, you know it was just an impulse purchase. I did this a few months ago without even realising it, when I had a sudden urge to purchase the (then new) Nintendo WiiU while attempting to summit Lion’s Head on the hottest day of the year, in 2013. Clearly, this was an impulse purchase, as I’m not a huge gamer anymore (yet I love Nintendo games!). Continue reading

Reflections on 2014

2014 was a tough year. The toughest year for me, yet. I’ve been debating for a few days whether or not to write a reflections post. I’ve just returned from my first gym session of 2015, and feel pretty positive, so I reckon what better time than the present to write this.

This year past brought several life challenges I’ve never had to endure, until now. These challenges are deeply personal and not entirely appropriate for this blog, so I won’t go into specifics. One interesting characteristic of a challenge is how it forces you to re-examine and re-evaluate other areas of your life. Large portions of 2014 were spent reflecting inwards, inspecting myself and my lifestyle and making small, yet highly impactful, changes to how I approach the world. One of these changes was to hack myself and get my fitness lifestyle under control. While this happened from late 2013, 2014 was the year where I kicked this into high gear… and it feels great! Continue reading

Behind the Woo: Creating The Ultimate Business Building Toolkit

I love WordSesh. This conference is a really great new twist on what it is to hold a conference in the 21st century. WordSesh hosts a talk every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours straight. All sessions are hosted over a Google Hangout, with an area for asking questions and interacting with viewers.

This year was my second presentation at a WordSesh. I decided to speak this year about a brief history of where we’ve come from in product at WooThemes, as well as where we’re headed and why. I received some great questions from the audience around EU VAT regulations, the future of WooCommerce and what we’re looking to explore.

I hope you all enjoy this session and get some great value and insights here. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below or follow me on Twitter.

Here are my slides for this presentation, if you’re not able to view or access the video above.

Use traction to grow your product audience

Earlier this morning, WooCommerce was submitted to Product Hunt, a popular website for showcasing new products. Product Hunt has, since launch, gained traction and become a standard in the tech industry for exposing engaged early adopters to new product and service offerings.

Within minutes, WooCommerce received several upvotes (how Product Hunters show their approval of a product) and several comments. At the time of writing, WooCommerce has had 49 upvotes and is growing steadily.

WooCommerce on Product Hunt

WooCommerce on Product Hunt

Continue reading

On Knowledge Sharing and Being Frank

For the past few months, I’ve been following the “Advanced WordPress” group on Facebook. I joined the group thinking I would be exposed to advanced questions around WordPress development work.

What is it that they say about assumptions, again? :)

Through observation, it is apparent that the group is more focussed around advanced uses of WordPress for client websites, rather than development topics. I figured I’d keep following the group in any event and see what comes up. Continue reading

How to develop the best WordPress products

WordPress is about freedom. This is one of the many reasons for the platform’s success, as well as creating an interesting new paradigm. Developers have a very low barrier to entry, which means that anyone with an idea and time to spare can develop a product on top of WordPress, upload the files to a marketplace and start selling (and making money). With this low barrier to entry, and an influx of developers looking to sell their products, it becomes an exercise of it’s own to try and stand out from the crowd (be the signal amongst the noise).

Fortunately, there are a few golden rules and tips which, when employed, help the product stand out from the rest. Continue reading

What bands and musicians can learn from software companies

“Release early, release often” is what they say in the software game, if you’re applying a LEAN approach. Having a product in the market, and receiving customer feedback, is better than having nothing out there for customers to see, test and give feedback on. “If you’re proud of your MVP, you’re doing it wrong” is another similar quote. This implies that your first version should be quick and dirty, focussing purely on the core concepts of what you’re aiming to achieve, without too many bells or whistles.

For many years, I’ve been involved in and passionate about the alternative music scene in South Africa. While there are a few bigger bands who have “made it”, as it were, there are many independent artists who organise their own events, record their own albums and do everything else themselves to try and make ends meet. These are the musicians who have to keep a day job to sustain their passion for music (ie: they don’t always choose to keep their day job) and have to make sacrifice after sacrifice to realise their dreams. The music industry in South Africa is a true labour of love.

There are, however, a few take-aways from the world of software development, which musicians can apply to their own business, for an almost guaranteed success (provided folks like the music the artist releases). Continue reading

No-one needs your product

This is often a tough pill to swallow, particularly for product people. Having put hours, days, weeks and/or months into an idea which you believe in with every fibre of your being, only to realise that no-one actually needs it. That’s rough.

Of course, this applies to new ideas, as well as re-inventions and improvements of existing ideas. Any new idea is usually either a better way of achieving an existing result, or a way of achieving the same existing result, using slightly different tools, or a slightly different process.

Ask yourself this; Do you really need that new smartphone? Is it not the same as your current smartphone, except with slight improvements and perhaps a slightly different way of doing something?

You don’t need it. You want it. Continue reading