After Plenty of Setbacks, We’re Getting Close with LockerPulse

Whew. What a crazy project this new LockerPulse has been. Remember when I posted in February that we were half done after about 6 weeks of work? Well, that 3 month project has turned in to a 6 month project. Generally I’m pretty spot-on with my estimates when I plan these types of large development projects out. What slowed us up this time?

Without a doubt, running Detailed Image is reason #1.  We’ve grown significantly since our last large development project, the original launch of LockerPulse in 2010.  I severely underestimated how much time Mike and I have to spend daily on managing/training employees, communication with our team, customer service, accounting, marketing, etc.  The long stretches of development time without interruption are still there, they’re just harder to come by on a consistent basis.

The second reason is that we’re approaching this project a little differently.  We’re taking our best shot right here.  It’s our home run swing.  As I mentioned in that post back in February, we’ve got what we think is enough data to justify taking that one gigantic home run swing with this project.  With that, the level of detail we’re paying attention to is magnified.  Instead of cutting every feasible corner to launch as fast as possible (something I’m 100% in favor of for most projects), we’re allowing ourselves to spend an extra few days to get something right if that’s what it takes.  The fact that we don’t need LockerPulse to bring in any revenue any time soon for us to survive works to our advantage here (although one can see how it could work as a disadvantage if you’re not careful).

Lastly, we’ve had some bad luck.  For instance, our data provider for rosters, schedules, and standings shut down their API last week.  We kind of saw this coming – the service was increasingly bad – so there was a backup plan in place that I got working on as soon as they made an announcement.  In the end it’s for the better, but it easily cost us ~2 weeks and stressed me out quite a bit.  As of a few weeks ago we were hoping to launch on 5/12/12, the two year anniversary of our original launch, but now it’s looking like sometime around Memorial Day.  Such is the risk any time you rely on API’s.

As it’s dragged on (well, dragged on by my standards at least) I’ve been plenty stressed and frustrated.  I’ve worked far too many hours for the work/life balance that I want.   The good news is that the serious development is almost completely done.  The other good news is that it came out awesome.  I absolutely love using it. Seemingly all of the attention to detail has been worth it.  Now comes the fun part: launching so that the rest of the world can use it!

7 comments on After Plenty of Setbacks, We’re Getting Close with LockerPulse

  1. Hey Adam,

    I can’t wait to see it! That sucks about the API closing shop…I suppose it’s better that it happened now than right after your relaunch! Do you mind sharing what you’re using as a new solution? I’ve been looking for a sports API and can’t seem to find one that has what I’m looking for (FanFeedr had it, but your warning had kept me away).

    Do you have a relaunch time frame in mind? Any new features you’re willing to tantalize us with?

    -Brad

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Hey Brad –

      I’m hoping to launch by the end of the month. LP will certainly be ready, we just have other things to contend with: Detailed Image Detailing Day 2012 is 5/19, Mike is traveling for his brother’s college graduation towards the end of the month, then there’s Memorial Day weekend. We have our new employee Bobby starting in early June so I’d like to try to get it up before he starts.

      From a features standpoint, the short answer is that it does everything that it currently does but way better :) We did add video highlights in your news feed in addition to stories. We also increased the number of college teams in our system, as well as adding in MLS and EPL. The ad platform is entirely overhauled and actually works the way we intended in the first place. But the biggest improvements are just the speed and usability of the entire site. We scrapped the existing layer-based design that seemed like a good idea in 2009 and went fully responsive HTML5. It works equally well on an iPhone as a 1080p monitor. It’s pretty fast too: we score an A on 22 of the 23 criteria that YSlow uses. The signup process is also much much improved. There’s more but those are the big things.

      I’m shooting you an email right now about the API stuff…

      – Adam

  2. Darrin says:

    Good stuff Adam. I see Lp creeping up more and more in the SERPS when I look for sports topics.

    Are you guys going to launch any mobile apps off it?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Awesome Darrin, glad you’re seeing LP come up in search results! We are definitely moving in the right direction…hopefully this relaunch doesn’t hurt that. It shouldn’t…but you never know.

      As far as the mobile apps, we’re not going the traditional native app route. The site was designed to be fully responsive, that is to work just as good on a mobile screen as a large monitor. We will have the ability to install to Android and iOS as a mobile web app. Everyone who has tested it says it feels and performs like a native app, which was a goal of ours. One of the many reasons we didn’t go for native apps is the amount of time you spend in the browser when you use LockerPulse – the entire thing is based on clicking links so going back and forth from a native app is tedious. There are a bunch of other reasons too, and there certainly are cons to this approach (most notably not being in the app stores). I plan on doing a full post on this after launch.

      • Adam McFarland says:

        By the way, how did Mock Draft HQ do this draft season? It was definitely an exciting draft! Do you notice a considerable spike in traffic prior to the draft or is it more steady throughout the year?

        • Darrin says:

          I had a little spike, but the Penguin update got me. I’ve been spending my time diving the site up into subdomains to try to get out of the Penguin filter.

          I made an app for my site, which is very similar to what you described about LP. It isn’t that expensive to get a coder to put your site inside an app that could be submitted to the app store. You guys could definitely do that without having to have a new app made from scratch.

  3. [...] Saturday we’re (finally) launching the new LockerPulse. Thus far in 2012 my partners and I have had very unusual schedules. [...]

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