CATEGORY: Development

Developer Tip: Look at your work from a different angle. Literally.

Patrick “P-Mo” Moroney made an important, game-changing observation: Code is longer than it is wide.

Stuff’s about to get real. dev team going vertical with monitor

P-Mo goes vertical.






















Necessary toolage:

Xrandr to set the size and orientation of the screen

Swivel desk mount

Optional for Awesomeness:

Gentoo Linux on Macbook

X Windowing System

X Monad Window Manager

Developer tips and tricks



















Don’t let the dainty plate and tea cup fool you. This is extreme.

Easy Vs. Right – MVP will give you both!

This post is about Minimum Viable Product, or MVP. This little acronym gets tossed around a lot here at, because we like innovation. Innovation is a wonderful thing, but it can be somewhat of an organizational nightmare for product management.

Our process goes like this: We decide that we want to add a new feature to a product or the website, but we’re not entirely sure how it’s going to work. We get a bunch of idea-driven stakeholders in a room, and we brainstorm about the feature. Suddenly we have 26 features that are all totally awesome, and we’re going to fit them all into one scoping document and one sprint to be finished in the next 2 weeks with only one developer working on it.

Board of directors discuss minimum viable product

And that’s how Homer came up with PageZen.

Oh, and it won’t need any testing either. This is GREAT! All the stakeholders leave the meeting feeling warm and fuzzy about the events that just transpired. We have so many neat ideas, and we can’t wait to see how they turn out.

It’s only once it’s in writing that we realize what is quite obvious to an outsider. All of these ideas are awesome! We can accomplish each and every one of them. It’s just going to take our entire development team 4 months. This is where MVP comes in. What can we push out in the shortest period of time with the minimum amount of development that will still be of value to the user?

We go back and forth until we strike that balance, and when it’s all said and done we have a solid spec that can be completed in one sprint by one developer. The agile process will tackle the testing, and we push the 23 other features to the back burner. They’re not in the sprint, but they’re not forgotten either. They’re hanging out in the development team’s backlog, waiting for iterative development to pick them up.

Analyzing and trying to produce an MVP is not only good for iterative development, it’s a solid business decision as well. We think we know what our customers want and sometimes we do, but sometimes we are way off base. Getting a product out the door and allowing your customers to bang on it allows you to track its desirability and also ask for their feedback on the features they want to see. You might be surprised to find that the features they want are nowhere in your list that landed in the backlog.

A Product Manager’s Guide to Developer Diplomacy

Greetings! Shannon the 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 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

So that’s scrum. We use it here at, 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 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 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 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 making the internet even easier, the start of getting the word out about our legendary support, the start of as a household name’85 the start of something great.

hello world… here we come. + Small Business Saturday Supports Small Business Saturday! Get your small business site up in a flash with our website builder, PageZen. Now through 11/26/11 use the promo code ‘GETONLINE’ and receive 25% off.

Have you guys heard of Small Business Saturday?

All the big box retail stores cash in on Black Friday, the notoriously huge shopping day following Thanksgiving. E-commerce sites have their big day the following Monday, coined Cyber Monday. So where does that leave the small mom & pop shops? Alas, Small Business Saturday was born. American Express first created the event on November 27th, 2010 and it rapidly gained popularity. Small business owners have carried the momentum and this year promises to be even bigger than last. Just check out the 2.2 million ‘Likes’ on the Facebook page.

As a small business ourselves, we like to support small business owners in every way possible. American express has provided free tools to help businesses promote their participation in the shopping event. In reading over their promotional materials and marketing checklist, it looks like they assume all small businesses already have a website, which we know is simply not the case (that’s where we come in!). As small business owners use this event to help drive new customers in the door, a web presence is essential in connecting with those customers again. Assume your customers want to find out more about your business and services, what products you provide, if you have any special events or sales coming up – you’ll need to send them to a centralized place with all this information.

Time is ticking, Thanksgiving is this week, so if you are a small business owner and you don’t have a website, get on it!!! After registering your business name you can use PageZen to create a simple website that will include the basics such as what types of products or services you provide, how people can contact you, and where you are located. The PageZen 1 page option is always free, if you want to expand beyond 1 page you can test drive the 5 page or unlimited plans. It’s a really simple solution for establishing a web presence quickly. After you get your one page up, you can use some of the marketing materials provided by American Express to really get the ball rolling in promoting your business.

Remember to use the promotional code, ‘GETONLINE‘ at checkout to receive 25% off.

To learn more about PageZen, click here.

Check out a tips & tricks video on setting up a small business site on PageZen:

If you have any questions or need some direction or guidance hit us up in the comments of this post and we’d love to help you out. Cheers to driving new business and following up on great new leads. And if you’re not a business owner, get out there and support your locals!!!

Follow the action on Twitter using the hashtag, ‘#smallbusinessaturday’

Free your videos and win cash with and 5 Minutes for Mom

In mere moments I’m going to tell you how to win some money. But first, this announcement: has created the coolest app. It sends your smart phone videos to your family and friends from anywhere and at anytime.

Here’s how it works: No more faulty phone uploaders! No more plugging in! Cut the cord and download our new app. You simply shoot a video and then use the app to send it to Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube or your own registered .TV domain! You can register your .TV as you upload your video for 99 cents per month. So if you have a great video of, say, your friend who has some trouble dancing, then you can own TroubledDancing.TV and share it with the whole family.

(And you domainers may have noticed something: YES you can own a .TV domain BY THE MONTH!)

You may have also noticed that we’ve been referring to our new app rather generically. That’sfree your videos from your smart phone with because we haven’t been able to think of a name (Yes, there is some irony here… and all.)


We’ve teamed up with the great website 5 Minutes for Mom to find the best name for our new invention. AND YOU COULD WIN! Not only bragging rights as the person who named the coolest app in the smart phone era, but these great prizes!

1st prize: $500 cash prize for the individual who names the app

2nd prize: $100 account credit at, which can be used for their website builder, easy search engine optimization, or web addresses for the entire family!

3rd prize: A random entrant will also receive a $100 account credit at

This contest will end on November 23rd. The winners will be announced on November 25th, 2011. Until then, keep your phone in a safe place. Daily Tut: Installing and Using Apple iTunes Match

It used to be difficult to pick which person at was the biggest Apple Fanboy/girl. Then along came Michael and, it’s clear, none of us can compete. He has every gadget and he knows everything about every gadget. That’s a big step, going from wannabe Fanboy/girl to the real deal Fanboy/girl, as many people use only about five percent of their Apple product’s potential. Michael uses it until he’s in sync, as if he embodies its technology. It’s weird, especially when he needs something and uses your face as a touchscreen. But we get many uses from Michael (I’ve heard his computer say his name like that car in Knight Rider) including incredible web design and these useful Apple tutorials.

As you can see it works!