Some projects go so well you want to bottle them. Others, not so much. A few months ago, I started surveying our projects from the last three years. I was looking for patterns of success and … less success. I had heard people say that there wasn’t much of a correlation between projects that were successful for Carbon Five and products that were successful in the marketplace. That felt simultaneously plausible (lots of products fail, but that doesn’t mean it was a horrible project) and unlikely (it doesn’t make us happy to work on things that don’t succeed). I asked C5ers to grade projects based on how well the project went. Then I recorded whether the product had been a success (as defined by the client). It turned out that there was actually a pretty strong correlation between projects we graded higher (A or B) and products that had succeeded. And projects where the C5 team was dissatisfied often resulted in unsuccessful products.
Once I saw this, I wondered: how might we increase the likelihood of success? Is there some way we could predict successful outcomes and try to make all our projects look more like the great ones? We’d have more fun and our clients would enjoy more success, in theory. But was it possible? Continue reading …
It’s rarely too early to instrument a web or mobile app with user and event tracking services. Sure, it’s ideal to only track the metrics needed to answer specific questions, yet it’s not often the case that those questions are known during the early stages of product development. It’s been our experience that we can manage problems associated with having too much data (analysis paralysis), but we can never go back and magically collect data that wasn’t tracked.
Over the course of a few projects, we’ve come to rely on a core suite of four analytics apps for their flexibility, ease of use, low startup costs and ability to adapt and mature with the product or business. It might seem like four tools is a lot, but the tendency in the analytics business has been for specialization, with countless vendors offering extremely niche products to cater to very specific needs.
Because of the proliferation of offerings, it can be difficult to make a final choice on analytics platforms when you are starting up a product, as you may find your needs changing over time. This brings us to the first product:
Segment’s main purpose is to be the single layer of code implemented in the product which allows data to be pulled out and then handed off. Segment enables hand-offs to an incredible number of other analytics-type products without having to write or insert any additional code, typically allowing non-technical business users to add or remove analytics products without the need for dev and test support.
Heap is the next product we’ve implemented. Heap is a great general purpose analytics platform; tracking both users and events. It allows a user to visually tag parts of the site for analysis and setup funnels to measure these tags. Beyond the ease of use, Heap’s other big selling point is that it can do this analysis retroactively. For example, if Heap has been implemented in a product for three months and one day you decide you want to look at the click through on an untagged CTA you can tag it in Heap and see the data from the previous 90 days. This is very powerful tool as product development ramps up, as the business may not know 100% of everything they want to measure up front.
Intercom is a user-centric analytics and messaging platform. They present a lot of the same data as a general purpose analytics platform, but they do so by showing activity clustered around individual users. Moreover, they provide an unobtrusive messaging tool which enables the business to communicate with users for customer development and support. Intercom is great for understanding the behavior of users across their lifetime, tracking engagement, retention and strategically communicating with users.
Optimizely is a great product for quickly and easily setting up A/B/Y tests to test all kinds things, and is especially well suited for testing UI and content. For products with a small number of users, Optimizely can be used for rapidly iterating on user interfaces to gain qualitative feedback. It really shines when the product has enough users to run tests at scale. Like Heap, Optimizely tests can generally be set up without the involvement of a developer which reduces the barrier and cost of running tests.
We’ve found this suite to be a great starting point for a new analytics implementation as it reduces time to set up and enables the business to easily slice and dice their application usage data in ways that produce insights – which is the true goal.
In the next chapter we’ll take a look at how we’ve used three of these tools on our product Stickies to quickly scale tracking users and events.
I recently worked on my first Go project. As a web developer, the applications I work with are often database driven. If you are like me, you might be curious about what working with a database is like in Go. And if you're used to working with a web framework like Rails, you might be wondering about an ORM. As the title of this article implies, there aren't a lot of options. In this article we'll learn to relax and go back to working without an ORM.
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This workshop is an opportunity to improve your coding skills by pair programming on an open source project. Every student will be paired with a volunteer who has prior experience with the language and contributing to an open source project.
We’ll be working on a federal government open source project, the Open Data Maker from 18F — the perfect opportunity to become a better programmer and code for your country!
@Carbon Five SF
585 Howard Street, Floor 2
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tue 7/14/2015 6PM – 10PM
At Carbon Five, we work with developers of all experience levels. One source of fear and uncertainty I’ve seen at all levels is Git, the primary source control system used by our teams. Fear of losing work due to mishandled merge resolution, resetting branches or interactive rebasing is keeping developers from using some of the more powerful aspects of the tool. I believe this fear to be unwarranted and hope to show that it’s much harder to truly lose code in Git than most would guess. Here’s the high-level overview of what you need to know:
- If you want to keep any bit of code, commit or stash it
- By default, anything you commit will be accessible for at least 30 days and anything you stash for two weeks
- Merging and rebasing are always safe
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Carbon Five offices have seen some plucky new faces recently. We’re happy to have four amazing interns lend their excitement, passion, and creativity to our office this summer. Lee & Treyce join us from California College of the Arts (CCA), Abiel joins us from Stanford and is a fellow of CODE2040, and Devin joins us from the Art Center College of Design.
Growing up in a military family, Lee has lived in many places in the U.S. and on the other side of the globe. The closest thing to “home” is Louisiana, where his family currently is. He used to be an Illustration major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and he is currently studying Interaction Design at California College of the Arts. Continue reading …
Silicon Beach Fest is coming up next week! If you’re in Los Angeles or can travel there, get your tickets before they’re gone. (Note: open the design guide for a special discount) Carbon Five is involved in the Design Track and we’d love to see you there. The Design Track takes place next Friday, June 26th at the Marina del Rey Hotel.
For those of you who haven’t been, Silicon Beach Fest (SBF) is a conference based in LA focused on entrepreneurship and technology. The last few years it has drawn more than 2,000 attendees and media attention, most notably from the New York Times and TechCrunch. SBF has helped countless founders, designers and technologists find support in the form of advice, teams and services.
Join us for the Design Track on Friday for: Continue reading …
This year Google I/O was reported to have 23% women in attendance (which was up from 20% in 2014 and 8% in 2013). It was my second year attending Google I/O, and both times were through the Women Techmakers (WT) program, which is behind the incredible boost in numbers.
It’s pretty rare to have such a big gathering of women tech-y people, and even less common for the gathering to be from all over the world (perhaps Grace Hopper would be similar, but I have yet to attend GHC). Continue reading …
Hello, new developers!
* What: an agile team experience for new developers
* When: 4 Sundays, July 19 – Aug 9, 10am-3pm
* Where: Carbon Five SF office
* Working on: an open-source project with C5 developers and designers
* Using: Ruby on Rails
* Learning: iterative planning, test-driven development, pairing
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