8 Seconds

In 1999 statistics were reporting that 8 seconds was the average waiting time required by a website to loose a visitor interest. If your page was loading in more than 8 seconds you were doomed.

Today, despite Italy being the EU country with the worst Internet speed, I believe that, even here, the 8 seconds have moved down to 4, maybe 3.

If you need some help you can always use google’s PageSpeed Insights



An advice from Jeff Bezos

If you know Basecamp or you’ve read the truly interesting book written by his founder Jason Fried, than you probably know the advice Jeff Bezos gave to Jason when he bought a share in 37signals. Jeff suggested to Jason to “Find the things that won’t change in your business and invest heavily in those things.”… “Take Amazon for example… 10 years from now people aren’t going to say ‘I wish Amazon shipping was slower’ or ‘I wish Amazon had a worse selection’, so we invest heavily in fast shipping and a broad selection.”

What is people going to say about my business in 10 years from now???

SEO for SaaS

SEO is dramatically important for SaaS. You better be where people is looking for you and this, on the net, means “do SEO the right way”.

I’ve done some lame attempts at SEO in the past but I’ve been sleepy on this side of my work and I’m willing to put a patch on this as fast as I can. We have many hot services that will be ready for release soon and we can not miss the basic results of organic search.

Of course playing a game where a company (yes Google it’s you), by changing an algorithm, can make 80% of your traffic disappear is pretty dangerous. Some companies launching SaaS services do not realise that, till you have established some serious traffic based on word of mouth, you rely on search traffic. If you can live long enough to replace search traffic with any other traffic form than you’re lucky.

Doing SEO can be incredibly expensive. And many proposal I get through the email sound like “hire five guys to milk your cow”. They all offer incredible level of sophisticated services but most of them fail in getting keywords right.

Getting keywords right sounds so easy but it is so difficult.

Most of the “I’m God on Earth” consultants (those that can’t resist to put SEO Strategist on their business card) I’ve spoken with have been asking me: “tell me the words that better describe your business”, the old trick of telling you the time using your watch.

One thing I know for sure is that there’s little chance you can get them right if you do not have a truly clear idea of what people, that may be interested in your service, are inputing in their search engines. And this can be incredibly different from the idea you have of your business or the words you use to describe it.

1-2-3 Clicks

Think about your application and imagine you have to divide all the features in 3 categories:

  • 1 Click: those that have to be immediately available and executed with a single click.
  • 2 Clicks: those that need 2 clicks (this can cause a page to change contents between the 2 clicks)
  • 3 and more Clicks: those that are more complicated to reach and require several choices to be made before executing.

What share of functions fall in the first category?
Are all the key features 1 click features?
How can you move up a 3 Click function to become a 1 Click one?
Are you giving to your user all the info needed to take a decision on clicking or not a 1 Click feature?

Is going to be a busy week-end….


To do or not to do

While using a task management solution is quite often a matter of personal taste ( there are many nice implementations out there ), I’m more interested in the impact that using one can have on the company culture. Most of the employees tend to believe that implementing a Get-Things-Done strategy is a nice way for managment to control thier behavior. One way to help them overcome this negative approach is to explain that they should use task managment to manage up. Every time they need help they should assign it as a task to their manager.

Disclaimer: we use Todoist as it provides a good level of integration with Google Apps and GMail in particular but if you have your own experience to share I’m interested in your comments.

Why FBA?

When it comes to taking a decision if to fulfill e-commerce orders using our own logistics operations or leveraging services like FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) most of the conversation goes around costs and timing comparisons.

I doubt that most of the small companies around the world can pretend to have a higher degree of efficiency than FBA. If you add that:

  • via FBA you get access to Amazon Prime customers (they spend shopping, on average, twice the time a regular customer does)
  • a customer with a bad logistics experience on a brand ususlly takes two years before he tries again to buy through the same channel

then your decision should be easier to take.

What pain are you alleviating?

When you work on your value proposition, I’ve been taught, you should answer this question:

What pain are you alleviating?

Now, after years of work on many business models I realised that this is not enough.

One thing many successful companies share is not just that they alleviate a pain, they deliver true pleasure.

These are the persons to whom you gladly answer when they call you over the phone early on Monday morning or late on Friday evening.

The night-time full-stack dilemma

Watching Laracon EU 2015 Jeffrey Ways’s presentation, just for fun, I started a list of all the stuff I’ve gone through in the last 3 years as a night-time full-stack developer:

HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, Less, Javascript, AJAX, Angular/VueJS, PHP/Ruby, C#/Java, MySQL/MongoDB, CodeIgniter/Laravel/Rails, Composer/Gems, CLI/zsh, Git, GitHub/GitLab, Sublime, Apache/Nginx, VirtualBox/Vagrant, OOP, MVC/MVVM, Namespacing, RegEx, Testing, Design Patterns, Security, CQRS, UI Design, UX, Chrome Dev Tools, Performance Tuning, Apple Store, Google Play, Google Apps, Socialize, PSR, CRUD, REST, TDD, BDD…

Overwhelming! Plus, I know I just scratched the surface of most of the list items. Do you share my feelings?

When I pretend to play the full-stack role I tend to forget that I come from the server side and that I’m slowly trying to develop my skills in the client side.

During the 9am to 7pm slot I’m a COO, so programming is something I have to manage early in the morning and late in the evening. Fortunately my software platform is running pretty smoothly, we can handle with one person a volume of transactions that requires something like 10 peaople to our competitors, I’m close to deploy a new release with major improvements and we are finally approaching the day I’ve planned to build a development team around me.

I was willing to prove our business idea is scalable and worth investing, plus, being a new business model, there was no literature nor market experience around to buy. So I took the DIY route. And this route condemned me to try to become a full-stack developer.

As at today our platform has been used only as a company internal tool. The plan is to let our suppliers and customers use it in a SaaS self-service fashion and this will require some major work on the UI side and on the security and testing aspects.

I’m truly looking forward to hire the first two team members that I’m sure will teach me a lot on both the server and the client side of my web app. And, of course, I’m open for suggestions.