After 10 years, I’m doubling down on my efforts to help make the Portland startup community even better and more awesome than it already is. But let’s be honest. I’m not really the most creative person. So rather than me try to guess what all of the problems or opportunities with our community are, I thought it would be wise to get your input and insights. And so did Built Oregon and PIE.
While no one really wants to have busy customer support teams—it would be better if all of our products and services worked flawlessly—we all have them. And given that we have them, getting them to be the most productive and effective group should be top of mind. They are the face of the company, after all.
Silicon Florist sucks doesn’t it? I mean, let’s be honest. It’s not perfect. And even though it’s completely a side project, that’s no excuse for it being half-ass. In fact, to quote a good friend, I want to be “using my whole ass.”
And I know you. You’ve got opinions. Ideas about what could be done better. Gripes about what I’m not doing terribly well. Things the blog could do that it doesn’t. Things the blog does that it shouldn’t. Read More
Our friends over at the Beaverton-based OTBC are always trying to help startups and entrepreneurs in the Portland area—like by hosting entrepreneurial speed dating sessions and sponsoring events like Portland Lunch 2.0 and Open Source Bridge.
Now, the OTBC could use a little bit of our help. In the form of feedback:
We get input at our lunches, and through our Meetup.com site, but we’d like to round that out with input from a larger sample of the Portland area tech entrepreneur community. So please take three minutes to let us know what kinds of programs you’d like to attend. These are mostly ratings of 1-to-5 to show interest level in a topic. Lots of ideas are listed, but it goes fast. Really! Three minutes. (OK, maybe four minutes at the outside.) Thanks!
I know you can help, because everyone has an opinion. They’re like… well, everyone has one.
So take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and click some buttons. The OTBC—and our entire startup community—will be better for it.
[HTML1]A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to get a glimpse of Sidecar, a new widget from Portland-based widget wizards StepChange Group. The product is currently running in a small private beta with a couple of other Portland-based companies, Sandy and one other.
Sidecar, at its very most basic, is a simple survey widget. It was developed—with product managers in mind—as a way to make it easy for developers to embed surveys and feedback mechanisms within the interface of the Web-based apps they’re developing. The widget was specifically targeted at gathering feedback during the oft-cryptic and hectic “beta testing” cycle that every product experiences.
But, as we walked through the demo, I immediately saw the opportunity for it to do more. Much more.
I couldn’t help but think of all of its potential as a feedback mechanism, a means of managing context sensitive help, a supplemental page-ranking system (think “contextual Digg“), and—last but not least—the means for you (yes, you!) to truly engage in conversations with your users in a format that is easy for them and valuable for you.
That’s a lot to cram into a little widget. But I’m definitely seeing the potential. Even in this beta version.
So of course I piped up with, “You know, I could really see this being useful on my blog. Or any blog for that matter. Blogs get feedback via comments. But that’s post-by-post feedback. I could really use this to assess the impact of Silicon Florist, as a whole.”
So, I continued to beg and plead. (I could almost hear the engineering team cursing me.) And luckily, I was invited to the private beta. Then I saw Greg Rau’s presentation at Startupalooza, and I was convinced that I better get this thing deployed sooner rather than later. So, now, you can see the Sidecar widget running right now, over at the top of the Silicon Florist sidebar.
Feel free to bang on it.
Sidecar is simple. Ridiculously so. And that’s the best compliment I can give it. It took me less than five minutes to build that Silicon Florist widget—and that was with the not-ready-for-prime-time admin panel. The same thoughtful simplicity that informed the design of the widget interface clearly permeates the widget configuration tools, as well. (I’ve provided a screenshot of the beta admin screen for reference.)
There are a bevy of reports and dashboards, as well: feedback, pages, users, and widget-use metrics. But I can’t say much about those until there is actually some data from the widget.
The only downside to Sidecar, at this point, is the installation, which is still a bit geeky. Not overly geeky mind you, but it requires mucking with code. And while that will have little to no impact on the Web-app developer adoption, it may curtail adoption with a broader market. I’ll be interested to see how StepChange puts its simplicity-smarts into making the widget installation (WordPress widget or plugin, for example) as simple as widget creation and management.
I don’t have any word as to when the Sidecar beta goes from private to public beta, but I will be continuing to provide feedback to the StepChange team on issues I encounter and the features I would like to see. If you’d like to chime in, you have two ways: commenting on this post or, preferably, using the widget (hint, hint).