Embrace Those Constraints

Today I deployed a small feature on LockerPulse: keyboard shortcuts.  This is one of those power user features that we’ve had a few customers contact us about. Most people won’t use it, but the people who are used to using keyboard shortcuts on Gmail and Google Reader will find it extremely valuable.

I had a pocket of time before the chaos of the holiday shopping season ensues next week. Rather than digging in to a large project that I’d have to put on hold for a few weeks, I decided to make the most of my time and just release something.  Something useful, something to show the real hardcore users that we’re constantly making things better.

It’s been tough this year to find time for LockerPulse.  From the very beginning of the year when a partner left the company, it’s been a very busy year for all of us.  Being shorthanded, learning new stuff, and handling Detailed Image’s growth hasn’t left a ton of time for LP. I’m not complaining – we’re all thrilled at how well DI has done this year – however that did place a limitation on LP.

Still, we’ve managed to accomplish a lot in my mind. We launched just enough big features throughout the year  (the ad platform, college sports, fantasy sports) and had just enough success (being featured on the Google Chrome blog, being a part of Toshiba’s app store upon launch) to keep the momentum heading in the right direction.

All the while we’ve been collecting data and making it really easy for our customers to contact us.  Next year when we make a big push, we’ll be armed with a strong existing user base, a lot of data, a lot of customer feedback, and confidence that what we’re building is valuable to people.  In short, we’ll have everything we need to make good strong business decisions.

What would have happened if we had more time for LockerPulse in 2011?  Or maybe even more money?  Would it have been this massive success?  Possibly.  Or maybe we would have wasted a lot of time and money and been no better off than we are today (or even worse off).  It’s impossible to know.  What I do know is that we wouldn’t have come up with some of the creative solutions that we did.  With the fantasy player tracking in particular, we solved problems in a quarter of the time with a quarter of the code because we had to, and the result was a more elegant solution than we would have released if we had six months instead of six weeks to finish the project. 

Having limited resources forces creativity, and creativity is generally a good thing.

2 comments on Embrace Those Constraints

  1. Rob says:

    I think there’s certainly a point where more money != better work. When you know that cost isn’t an issue you end up making sloppy business decisions without proper research. Obviously with too little money there are huge restrictions too.

    After switching to the ad-supported model for LP, did users go up as much as you had hoped for, and is the revenue greater than it would have been had you continued with the previous model of fewer paying users?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      The move to the ad-supported model was definitely the right one. I think it has worked OK so far given the minimal effort we’ve put in. We expect to give it a lot more attention and marketing in 2012. I think the goal is to determine concretely whether this is going to be a big part of our business or not. Right now it’s still peanuts compared to DI.

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