Words which change meaning and how they work

Looking back, I have fond memories of the “early days of the internet” (well, as we see them now, anyways) where I’d get home from school, hop onto the computer and chat using IRC (Internet Relay Chat), mostly with others I’d seen at school not an hour or two earlier that day. While at the time this seemed somewhat run of the mill, I got to thinking about how this kind of interaction influenced how I communicate online and via text in general.

Over the years, I’ve met several people who influenced the words I choose when communicating. Whether verbally or over text, words have a specific meaning and, to me, there is little room for interpretation when selecting ones words. As I communicated more and more over text, I realised how much we actually convey without realising, purely through our choice of words. Today I’d like to pinpoint several words, how I interpret them in communication and how removing them or adjusting them can improve and provide clarity to one’s communication. 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

The journey versus the outcome

We’ve recently had some landscaping done, at home. While the end result is absolutely beautiful, there is one aspect of the project which didn’t sit too well with me. While working from home, I’m aware of all of the goings on with the landscaping, can view the progress day to day and can also hear the project lead bossing her team around. I use the term “bossing” as my personal interpretation of how the project was handled. This got me thinking about project management and what the project manager cares more about; the journey or the outcome. 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

On slowing down to speed up

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. Continue reading

What big business can learn from startups

In today’s fast-paced startup culture, there is an often unspoken ambition held by many startup companies to “join the big leagues” and become large corporations.

As businesses grown and evolve, certain magical qualities are often lost. Today, I’d like to touch on a few qualities which big businesses could learn from young startups.

I’m not a business owner, or a CEO. I’m not a venture capitalist or a startup evangelist or any other title like that. I’m an observer. Here’s what I see. 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!

Knowing Your Limits And Gaming Yourself

Since starting this blog several years ago, I’ve tried several techniques to keep up a regular blogging routine. From blogging daily for a week or two, to attempting to blog every day for an entire year, I’ve tried them all.

While this blog isn’t a business for me, it’s a great way to share knowledge, thoughts and interesting discoveries. At the same time, I simply cannot dedicate all day every day to blogging, researching and constructing articles. Ultimately, it’s also not how I most enjoy writing.

So here’s what I’ve done. Continue reading