The Quiet E-Commerce Renaissance

November 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

E-commerce has undergone dramatic change in the last two years.  Zynga has cracked social gaming and virtual goods wide open, producing enormous transaction volume.  Groupon has crushed local service group buying and created a multi-billion dollar cash machine.  Gilt has pioneered invite-only branded high end flash sales.  All three of these companies have pioneered new e-commerce models in a matter of months, have been locked in the tech news spotlight, and have spawned hordes of fast-followers trying to get in on the action.

However outside of the consumer spotlight, there are several companies that have been revolutionizing web based e-commerce tools available for businesses.  Shopify, AvantLink, Shopatron, AdRoll, and FeeFighters are each dedicated to helping their customers sell more and sell better online.  They don’t receive the public fanfare of their consumer facing brethren like Zynga, Groupon and Gilt, but all have offerings that create unique value and some are growing at a similarly furious pace. « Read the rest of this entry »

Calculating Online Advertising Return on Investment

October 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been helping a friend write a business school case on his company. I haven’t done too much but it’s been fun to see the process. Recently I helped with an appendix covering the ROI calculation when dealing with online advertising campaigns. I thought I would include it here in case it might be useful for other folks.

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Paper Prototype User Testing

September 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

A heavily underutilized tool in the UI development and testing toolset is the paper prototype user test.  Paper prototype tests have literally saved me and the companies I have worked for hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars.  The test itself is really simple.  Like all other forms of user testing, the most difficult step is getting the testers to show up and do the test.

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Setting Team Expectations and Evaluating Performance

September 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Over the last year I have been inspired for a number of reasons to bone up on my skills related to improving employee performance.  This great post by Ben Horowitz led me to High Output Management by Andy Grove, which is a phenomenal reference for any manager. I have found Chapters 11 through 16 to be particularly useful.  Grove’s core message is that more often than not, an underperforming employee is likely being mismanaged.  Specifically, it is likely that the employee does not know what management expects the employee to do.  When an employee underperforms, Grove advises managers to double back and make sure it is abundantly clear what exactly is expected of the employee, what metrics will be used to evaluate the employee’s performance, and when the employee’s next performance review will occur. « Read the rest of this entry »

Gear Burger: Turbocharged

July 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Gear Burger has been turbocharged.  You can read about the improvements here.

Liftopia.

April 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

A much needed update!  I joined Liftopia back in November as VP of Product.  My primary role is to lead the charge on the technology development side of things but as is the case with all startups, everyone does a bit of everything.  I joined the team right as we were heading into our peak season and have spent the last six months trying to pump out features that would improve our season results and keep the wheels on the bus.  We still have a long way to go but we had a great season, and when we have a great season that means we were able to help ski resorts have great seasons as well which is very cool.  We’re now heading into a period of lower transactional volume which means we will be able to crank out a ton of development work, as we don’t have to worry as much about bug fixes, transaction processing optimization and customer support issues.  I’ll post updates here as we release features and design changes.  I’m also going to start blogging again (although Twitter is still sucking me away).

Side Benefit of User Testing: Team Unity

September 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

For the last several months, we’ve been undergoing a large redesign of a critical and complex user flow at Adroll. At this point, several hundred hours of work have gone into the project. Our UX intern started the project with a company-wide customer identification exercise that got everyone focused on who we’re targeting with our product and who we should be designing for. We then conducted extensive user testing with target customers throughout development which resulted in radical shifts from what we thought would be the “right” solutions out of the gates. The result is not only a better and easier to use product, but also a unified team. User testing not only focused our team on our target users’ behavior but also virtually eliminated internal debate and the resulting tension regarding who thought what would be best for our users.  In the long run it’s very possible that the side benefit of team unity will match the value of the much improved product.

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