Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Readership - Usability, Specs and Getting to Know your customers

Today is Friday and although I've been quite silent on my blog this week, I'm going to get back to posting more often... and today's my readership day and I've got cool articles I'd like to refer you to....


Usability and Conversion by Maciek Saganowski

The image above is the screenshot from his blog, sorry Maciek, couldn't resist :-)

This is a new blog by a good friend of mine, Maciek, who's also the guy responsible for the User Experience of our new Nozbe 2.0 - he also chose posterous as his blogging platform - make sure to subscribe to his blog to learn more about usability and user experience - Maciek knows a lot and practices what he preaches.

Now, to comment his article - I find it very true. Usability is not everything, but it's so important!

Maciek actually made me aware of many usability issues in our web app and I'm glad we've worked many of these. Now it's time for KAIZEN - continuous improvement and making it even better.

I've scheduled each Monday morning with my developer to work on one usability improvement for Nozbe - this way we'll have at least one issue worked out a week and ultimately our app will be getting even better on a continuous basis... and hopefully it'll also have an impact on our revenue and conversion... and overall happiness of our users :-)

I really dig David's advice and we'll be commenting more on the stuff from this interview in my next blog posts.

My initial comment: We're working on a new web app right now and I had the idea for it about a year ago... then I started developing specs and feature ideas.... and project kind of started to stall... I started to lose motivation although I think it'll be a great tool and would go with our current Nozbe really well...

And then I started building it... I started from its core feature... and now I know a lot better how this tool will work, suddenly things started to make more sense, my app started to look even cooler than I initially thought.. and I'm extremely excited about it.

It's a lot more fun and a lot more productive to start building something and seeing it grow... and starting from the core feature... and use it right away.

Tim Ferris in his "four hour workweek" said that asking for users how much they'd pay for something is useless, until you actually pull up the product and say - OK, sir, you said you'd pay for this kind of device 10 bucks - well here it is, how about buying now?

They you'll know if the potential client is in fact.. a client-to-be or just a person who's being nice to you.

Anyway, 37s advice on charging for things from day 1 is a great one and I intend to follow it with every product I've got... having people pay for your stuff makes the commitment on both sides a lot better and tighter. And is very rewarding for both parties, too. And as in this article - you get to know your real clients right away :-)

Question of the day:

Now it's your turn - which articles you'd like to refer to me? What stood out for your this week? Any cool piece of advice?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday readership - Apple's Desktop sales, Twitter features and thanks to Steve Jobs

As usual on this blog on Friday I'm commenting on three articles that stood out for me during last week and not surprisingly there are about Apple and Steve Jobs (I'm a Mac user for over a year now) and Twitter (I'm about to cross 5K followers on this platform - thanks everyone! Here goes...


This is really surprising... Apple's OSX has 10% market share but their overall retail computer sales are close to 50% with Windows-based PCs! This used to be a 70%-30% relationship, not 50-50.

The strange thing is that the article is citing recession and Windows 7 expectations as the cause of all this. The Win7 argument I can understand, but the recession? I mean, because of the recession people are not buying PCs but are buying the more expensive Macs? Where's the logic in that?

Michael Arrington wrote a brilliant piece saying big thanks to "his Steveness" for coming back to Apple and making iPod, iTunes and iPhone happen. I can't agree more. Steve and the Apple crew, you may like them or not, are challenging the status-quo and have re-invented both the music market and the mobile phone market. Nobody can argue with that. Thanks for being the Apple's iCEO, Steve!

Cool article written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame on his new "Minimalist" blog.

He's right, the power of Twitter lies in the fact that they have a very simple service and that all the "developer community" around them are innovating thanks to the Twitter API. Twitter should really focus only on making their core featureset work perfectly and let the community innovate based on this.

What do you think? Do you believe Twitter should add more features? Do you like the new Retweet feature? Aht do you think about Steve Jobs and what he's done at Apple?
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday readership - lifetime value, saving money and discovering your productivity system

As always, it's Friday and I'd like to share with you a couple of blog posts/articles that caught my attention:


It's a concept startup owners and entrepreneurs rarely embrace. The fact that customers, if happily using our services, are worth to us a lot more than their first payment.

In Nozbe very often people sign up first for a $7 monthly solo plan and later either upgrade to a yearly or 2-yearly plan (which give the customer great savings and us good cash-flow) or even upgrade to a higher plan first like Plus, Family or Team... so yes, it's really important to remember that customer's lifetime worth when selling them what we have.

Neil is a serial entrepreneur and he highlights the fact that his success also depended on the fact that he's "cheap", meaning - he spends only as much as needed, but never too much.

While I don't totally agree with that, as i believe buying really cheap stuff can be bad in the long run as cheap stuff usually breaks down a lot earlier meaning a lot more replacements and much more hassle with the product... I do believe in really researching and trying to get the best "bang for the buck" on your purchases whenever possible.

Right now we're finishing our new apartment and we're really watching our expenses but we're not trying to buy the cheapest chinese stuff we can get... we're aiming for the best quality at the most reasonable price.

Testing Time-Management Strategies by the Wall Street Journal

WSJ compared three time-management techniques - GTD (Getting Things Done), Pomodoro Technique (a quite entertaining technique where your main accessory is a kitchen-timer in a shape of a tomato) and Steven Covey's focus.

I really liked the conclusions there: "In the end, I expect I will embrace elements of each of these systems—the approach experts recommend for most people. The essence of good time management is sticking to rituals that make you more productive, and rituals are largely a matter of personal preference."

Question: Which article or blog post made an impression on you this week? Are you looking at a total lifetime value of customer when selling them things? Are you a cheap buyer? What is your time-management technique of choice?
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday reading - Responding to stimulus, Blogger's discipline and your customers

Every week on Friday it's time for my Friday reading - a compilation of top-3 (or more) blog articles that were "starred" by me during the week in my Google Reader RSS channels... here goes the list of my favorites: 

The Space Between the Stimulus and the Response by Michael Hyatt

OK, this is kind of spooky, Michael and I wrote about the very same subject on the very same day and we didn't talk about it or we didn't read each other's posts.

I encourage you to read both posts, Michael Hyatt's and mine, especially with great comments by Neils Warnecke that explore the subject even more.

Conclusions? Take your time, don't react immediately after an action towards you. A response after a few moments of thinking is a much better one.

I've taken blogging seriously. Now that I'm using a platform that support my email routine (posterous) there is virtually no barrier for me to write a new blog post each day. I only take 5 on Sundays.

I really like advice by Chris and intend to follow it. So far so good. After two weeks of blogging daily, I'm happy with my results, I'm thrilled by every new comment on this blog (so please keep on commenting!) and it's really fun to write about stuff that's always been on my mind: Internet Business Productivity.

Following Chris I will do my best to: Show up (post daily), Deliver value (write about stuff that matters), keep on improving (and experimenting), clarify my desire after each blog post... and do my part every Friday showing you other blogs I'm reading.

I cannot and don't want to pre-screen anyone who uses Nozbe, I also cannot and don't want to force anyone into using my web app. I appreciate all the positive and negative feedback, I appreciate constructive criticism, but I don't appreciate trolling or insults.

Luckily, most of my users are really cool and we communicate great, but if someone is not happy with my app, me and my team will strive to do everything right, and if it's still not enough, I'm more than happy to refund the money. Unlike many of our competitors we offer 60-days money back guarantee, so anyone can try us out for 2 full months with no risk whatsoever.

This way both my team and my customers are in the comfort zone that no one is risking anything and we can all focus on getting things done.

Question: Which articles caught your attention this week? Which other blogs you'd recommend? Feel free to let me know! I love reading interesting stuff :-)

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This week's stories - be prepared when speaking, make sure you can handle trolls and go for a rapid growth

As I'm approaching my first week of daily blogging for this new posterous-powered blog I'm trying to set up some guidelines and some regular features on this blog so that you - my great readers - know a little more what to expect from me.

As Friday is typically a day when everyone's thinking about weekend already, I've decided that today I'll post about the articles I've read throughout the week that have captured my attention.
Friday is the "stories from my RSS reader" day:
Speaker's Tip: Don't tell the audience you aren't prepared - is a great article by Jason Fried about a fact that also annoys me when I'm attending a conference or any other public seminar. When someone steps up and is supposed to tell you something, is supposed to be a speaker you've come a long way to listen to, and the first thing they say is this:
I'm not prepared ... I just did this presentation on my way here in the cab ... My presentation will be boring
They think they are funny. Hell no. There's nothing funny about not being prepared - it's making fun of the attendees, because what they actually are saying is this:
"I got here for free and I'm supposed to talk to you about something I have no idea about, and you suckers paid big dollar to listen to me - you should ask for your money back. Now.".
Friends, Critics and Trolls - from one of my favorite blogs by Michael Hyatt. It's really important to be able to differentiate between the three - to make sure you know who's your friend online, who's your critic and who is there to flat-out ridicule you.
It's also important to learn to take a deep breath when someone is offending you both online and offline. The ability to respond cordially and turn around is very important here. I'll dig into this subject deeper in one of my next posts.
Does Slow Growth Equal Slow Death - from Joel Spolsky made me think about my business which at this point is indeed in a very "comfortable" state with a "comfortable" growth rate and although we're working hard on giving more value to our users every day, we might be not doing enough to ensure a more rapid growth.
Although I also liked and agree to a certain degree with David's response, this is something I will be revisiting with my Nozbe team and checking where we can improve and make sure we can "handle success" staying "hungry and foolish" just like Steve Jobs said.
Question: Are you always prepared for your presentations? Do you like it when someone is not prepared and they make fun about it? Can you handle trolls? Can you handle critique? Is your company / startup developing fast enough?