CATEGORY: Development

A Product Manager’s Guide to Developer Diplomacy

Greetings! Shannon the Name.com Product Manager here, talking to you today about the mystical and fascinating creature that is the Web Developer. It’s no secret; I spend a lot of my time in the developers’ den trying to comfort and sway developers into action without stepping on too many toes. It’s a delicate line, and I walk it quite well.

Where other Marketing Agents have fought valiantly and failed, I have succeeded. How? I’ll tell you right now. I have 10 fundamental rules that, as a whole, comprise the “Shannon Brown Theorem of Developer Diplomacy”

The web developer in his natural habitat

1) Write a detailed spec for the project that they’re working on. Make sure you know every nook and cranny of the document and be ready and willing to tackle any issue that pops up. Don’t leave them hanging.

2) Listen to them when they tell you why something cannot or should not be done. This way, when you continue to bring impossible ideas up, and they simply say, “That doesn’t live in the CMS,” you know what they mean. They hate repeating themselves, and they hate the feeling that you’re not paying attention to them.

3) Every so often, visit imgur.com and familiarize yourself with the content. If you see something really good, forward it along. For instance, this is Owen’s favorite GIF. Just thinking about it brings a sparkle to his eye. Yes, they will ask you why you don’t visit Reddit. Just say, “the UI is awful!” and roll your eyes. This works every time.

4) When interacting with 3rd party vendors, ask them specific questions about the issues they’re running into and then take care of the communication for them. They are here to write righteous code, not tedious emails.

Everyone loves beer!

5) Give them beer. Delicious, frothy, amazing beer. From a kegerator. In the developers’ den. Be sure to reference this beer any time that you can get away with it in every day conversation. It also helps to randomly have strong opinions about types of beer, for instance, “this stout is good, but it’s sooo dark. I prefer IPAs”

6) Ask questions like “which is easier to code?” and “how will that interact with the rest of the system?” when they present you with a problem and several proposed solutions to the problem.

7) Ask their opinion about features and functionality before it lands in a finalized spec. This is much easier to say than it is to do.

8 ) Every so often give them a week where they don’t have to adhere to the sprint, and they can work on whatever they want, one developer at a time. You might be surprised at what you get.

9) Test their work thoroughly and provide detailed feedback in a reasonable time frame. Make sure your expectations for remediation are realistic. Don’t push a list of bugs at them and insist that they are resolved in the next 18 seconds. That’s silly, and they’re not going to like it. They’re bummed enough as it is about the bugs.

10) Laugh at their jokes, even if they’re geeky. Don’t kid yourself, they’re funnier than you are.

Agile Development- A Brief Introduction to Scrum

A Shield a Developer Can Hide Behind

If you’ve ever worked in software or web development odds are that you’ve heard the word scrum thrown around a couple hundred times. Whether you use it or not, you know it exists and you know someone who is on an Agile/Scrum development team who has a lot of opinions about it. I understand that not all of our blog readers have worked in software or web development, so it might seem like I’m talking in another language, or about rugby at the very least.

Let’s take a step back. What is Scrum? Scrum is a software life cycle methodology that development teams use to plan projects in small chunks. In Scrum the development team works as, well, a team. Projects are broken down into “stories,” which are then put through an estimation process by the team. The goal of the estimation process is to get everyone on the team to agree about the workload – “points” of the story, which is then planned into a “sprint” – a cycle where the development team attempts to complete all of the stories planned into it based on the average number of points the team has been able to complete in past sprints.

This is what happens in waterfall development

The ultimate goal of Agile/Scrum development is to deliver features in pieces that people can actually test and use in smaller pieces that build on top of each other. It differs from the traditional school of thought, waterfall development, which is basically like shooting in the dark at moving targets as the floor gives way beneath your feet. Imagine having a big project that has so many technical specifications and functional requirements that the scope of work is 170 pages long and the projected timeline is 6-8 months before completion. Needless to say, waterfall development leads to complications because everything was written and scoped out up front, making it difficult for teams to adapt when something doesn’t go according to plan.

Dave McBreen, our resident Scrum Master / Wizard

Scrum is more than just breaking large projects into smaller ones. It is essentially a push-and-pull relationship between development and marketing. This epic battle is fought between the Scrum Master who is in charge of maintaining the scrum process and ensuring that the development team swallows the work they bite off, and the Product Owner (yours truly), who constantly attempts to force work into the sprint. Eventually a duel occurs between the two of us. Dave usually wins, because the points don’t lie.

A typical Scrum Master/ Product Owner duel at Name.com

So that’s scrum. We use it here at Name.com, and we’re getting pretty darn good at it if I do say so myself. If you’re in the world of web or software development I recommend at least giving Scrum a chance. You can find out more about it by watching this video.

 

 

 

SEO Series Part 2: Why Link Structure is So Important!

(If you’ve just shown up, click here for Part I of the SEO How-to Series. And welcome)

Links = Votes!

Links as votes is a helpful analogy to remember. Basically, if Page A links to Page B, then Page A is casting a vote that Page B is relevant to the keywords used in the link text or anchor text connecting the 2 pages (example: in the link to Name.com at the end of this sentence the “link text” or “anchor text” is domain name). In addition, votes can be stronger or weaker depending on factors like overall trust of the link, PageRank of the page it came from, and even how significant the relationship between Page A and Page B is.

In other words, the more votes that Page B gets, the higher the likelihood it will rank higher for keywords. The more internal links you provide that point to any given page on your site, the more opportunities there are for that page to rank highly for its targeted keywords. Here are three important internal “link structures” and some simple tactics to optimize them.

1. Global Navigation – The template for global navigation (including home page alt tag) is one of the most elemental starting points for SEO. This is especially true for large sites because the more pages your site has, the more votes the global navigation template is providing for you. This is not to say that you need to have lots of pages. By putting the right keywords in global navigation links like the drop-down menu, your site is more likely to get credit for any internal links. That’s why indexing the links is both important and helpful.

2. Link subsets – There can be any set of links existing on the page template which specifically targets page groups with targeted keyword phrases. This is an ideal vehicle for creating that ever-important link connectivity to the high priority pages. Typically, this is in the footer area or on the right column of the page. Sites may have buckets for “Related Topics” or “Most Popular Pages” or a similar subset which is both related to the main link and relevant. Look at the Name.com Footer for an example of how this is done.

3. Navigate the breadcrumbs – Breadcrumb navigation is an internal link structure that can enhance SEO; especially for any sub-pages that are not linked by global navigation. Any links appearing in the global navigation template will typically occur in the source code before any breadcrumb navigation or content links. This means that global navigation links supersede any other links on the page. Mainly because most search engines (like Google) only count the first link found in the source code between Page A and Page B. Any breadcrumb navigation links must be keyword focused as the primary purpose of them, SEO-wise, is to link to any pages outside of the global navigation template.

Remember that the main purpose for all three of these types of link structures is to direct users to the right information. When the link structures are keyword focused, it aids search engines and users in finding the relevant information.

hello world

We are about to do three things that should make you happy:

1- Make the site much, much easier to use. We’re systematically going through the site page by page, click by click, and making it simpler. You deserve that.

2- Give our current customers lots of new friends, so they can look back and say that all the new guys are just “jumping on the bandwagon” and that “we were customers of Name.com before everyone knew about them.” Hey, it’s cool to be first. We’re going to help make sure the whole world knows how cool you are.

3- Help you. We work hard to make sure we have what you need, but this year we’re taking it to the next level. From video tutorials and guides on every page to educational blog content to 24 hour support (this will be the last half of the year… takes a while to staff!), this is going to be a banner year… for both of us.

That’s why the title of this blog post is “hello world.” In much the same way that those words marked the start of something great, something that would eventually change not only the world but the way we live our daily lives’85 this year is the start. The start of Name.com making the internet even easier, the start of getting the word out about our legendary support, the start of Name.com as a household name’85 the start of something great.

hello world… here we come.

Beer Friday: We got a Keg Cap Tap

The story around the office wasn’t so much our new gift, but that something had “cleared the war room”. The “war room” is where our dev team holes up in a small space withlegend of karate kid concentrates like a name.com developer charts, graphs, computers and the concentration of Mr. Miyagi. They stay there all day troubleshooting and brainstorming. It’s a big deal, and we’re told that those of us on the outside will never understand.

But then the the inventor of the Keg Cap Tap sent us “the perfect tap handle for every keg.” It was if the war room guys had just found out about sunshine. They wandered out into the open and gathered around the kegerator. With quiet admiration they celebrated the latest innovation in beer liberation.

The keg cap tap from Colorado inventor Matt Ferris.

Some of you may know that every keg comes with a little cap. It’s an identifier of what the keg is, and provides a modicum of protection to the valve that guards the nectar below. Until now it’s been popped off and stuck to someone’s head or flicked about in an impromptu game of table football. But now it has a new home.

keg cap tap stickers

And stickers!

Your stylish new cap-tapped keg tells everyone what they’re drinking so you don’t have to break from the courtship of your pint to field questions. Pretty dang cool, and Matt, the Colorado-based inventor who conjured this little bit of magic, sent it to us out the the goodness of his heart. Thanks Matt! This kegs for you!

What we should learn from the Crock Pot Girls

Let me be the first to try and share the success of an Internet Sensation. This time it’s not a kid high on nitrous oxide or an interesting squirrel. This time there’s meat, real honest-to-gosh meat. It’s the Crock Pot Girls. They are three mothers, Allyson, Jenna, and Nicole who, as their Facebook page says, “decided here was a great way us moms can exchange crock pot recipes.” Sounds pretty darn simple, and that should be the main lesson. KISS: Keep It Simple…Silly (Moms loathe the word “stupid.”)

So they go about this straightforward project and in less than ten days score half a million “likes” and so many wall posts they have to beg people to behave and follow the rules. What are the rules? Well, simple: share recipes. Now that’s about as Abigail Adams as you can get. This old-fashioned way of connecting people spun up in an electronic forum. And by golly they have 300,000 more fans since I checked the site last night. Soon they’ll be on Good Morning America, and we’ll be watching from our piles of press releases and flowcharts and wondering, “How?”

crock pot girlsSince it has to do with food we at Name.com wanted to be a part of it. As the Community Evangelist I contacted the CPGs to see if we could provide them with a domain and a website that we could monetize and search engine optimize. Our customers really think we’ve got something with our PageZen web builder and SEO Tutor, and we’re very fond of them. But that really should be the litmus test: are you portraying your product even close to something that with a flip of a switch can feed your family for a week?

There’s another lesson: give people something they want. We’ve all been serenaded by the sales gurus hammering their fists and berating us about benefits: “Share the benefits of your product!” But the Crock Pot Girls have one up on that. Their product is a benefit with benefits. People want food. They want lots of it, and they want it to appear magically. The Crock Pot is all that. You put something in it, you turn it on, and then you do something else with yourself. All you need is a recipe. In come the CPGs. Throw in the fact that the economy is weak and I’m surprised our ladies of the ladle haven’t been propelled to Congress.

At Name.com we’d love to hear that we’re the Crock Pot Girls of domains and website building. We want it to be quick, easy and convenient, and as satisfying as a pound of pulled pork. We want to put you in that place where you can be any level of web IQ and still get your ideas and products on a website that ranks big with SEO. Actually, I think there should be some kind of buzzword introduced here. Something about a “Crock Pot” business plan (not to be confused with “Crackpot”) where you sit alone with the slow cooker and brainstorm how close you can get to its paragon of goodness. If you don’t get all the way there, then don’t worry. It’s hard to touch moms with vats of food.

Name.com Emerges from Rigorous One-Stopification Process

The Name.com dev team stepped out into the daylight and blinked at the big, big world. It was time for a shower and something other than processed cheese and potato chips. It was also time for something else: a celebration. A good party was in store because Name.com’s One Stopification was complete.

A developer’s diet. Exercise is also recommended.

Our staff of intrepid tech-addled engineers have grappled the once painful process of building a website and cocooned it into the amazing and easy-to-use PageZen web builder. They tore down the ominous mountain of Search Engine Optimization and downsized it to the simple, step-by-step SEO Tutor.

When you go to Name.com, you are now greeted with everything you need to build and optimize, monetize and securitize the website you need. But there’s more. We’re working on quick and easy tutorials for all our quick and easy services. That’s doubly quick and easy.

With our One Stopification complete, you’ll be able to build your own website in minutes. Tweak it how you’d like. Add what you like. Add PayPal, social media, videos, your own unique twists, colors, designs and propel your profits into the webosphere with all the benefits about you and your business.

name domains hosting security websites

What One Stopification looks like.

We have the security, the SSL certificates, the domain names and the easy web builder with all the accessories. So you’re covered for small business, blogging and anything from domains to websites to ranking on the top search engines.

SEO Tutor starts at 36 bucks a month and you can do it yourself. Call that expensive SEO consultant and tell him you’re using the money you save to go to Mexico.

But we will still be here, One Stopified and ready with the same great customer support. It’s nice that some things never change.

Name.com Introduces Domain Nabber NXD Scores for .Net, .CC and .TV

The NXD score that Name.com currently provides for .COM is now available for .NET, .CC and .TV.

Check out the impressive roster here.

NXD, or Non-existing Domains, are those domains just about to expire or are currently available to be registered.
The NXD score measures DNS traffic, which could be an indicator of web traffic. There are a lot, like millions, of domains that are already getting DNS traffic, but that no one is using. Information provided by Verisign helps to determine their NXD score, rated on a 1-to-10 scale, 10 being the highest.
Get onto Name.com’s Domain Nabber today, and use the NXD score to find the right domains to potentially drive even more traffic to your site, products, services and content.

New: UberSearch


Our ninja developers have been at it again, working hard to provide you with the best tools to find the perfect domain name. Have you checked out the Name.com Laboratory? If you visit www.name.com/labs you will find experimental projects that we’re working on. They aren’t quite ready for the mainstream yet so we hope you’ll poke around, test them out and give us your feedback! The newest addition to the Name lab is UberSearch. The UberSearch tool does just what you’d think – it pulls together all the different search tools we offer into one, mega, totally awesome, UBER search.

What makes UberSearch so cool?

  • Combines suggestion techniques from multiple sources
  • Translates into various languages
  • Performs quick availability checks
  • Is a contextual domain builder (so basically you can choose other definitions for the word and then other words that mean the same thing, if you can follow that)
Check it out (click to enlarge):
We hope the UberSearch will help you find the best available domain name for your project or business. Hit us up on twitter, facebook, or in the comments below with your feedback on this brand spankin’ new, fresh-off -the shelf search tool.
Click here to give it a test drive!
Props to Owen for developing this killer tool!!