Here we are for another awesome Democamp! Here are the 3 musketeers cracking jokes at the audience. A special word has to be said for David Crow, as mentioned from Michael McDerment, who organized the very first BarCamp here and who is single-handedly responsible for putting Toronto on the Web 2.0 map, so-to-speak. Bravo muchachos. That said, there is an upcoming BarCampEarth which is basically a series of BarCamps around the world held everywhere within 2 days, from August 26-28. Sadly, there is no BarCampEarth Toronto, and since this is a community thing, something should be done. It can’t be the same people organizing everytime, so step up people and give a hand in organizing this event! Without any further ado, here are the demos:
The first demo was about Wild Apricot(WA) and the goal was to get known (and of course for feedback). A rather tasty fruit and a funny name, WA proposes an easy to use and easy to configure web-app targeting associations and non-profits. It makes setting up a website for organizing events as painless as possible; amongst the list of features supported, there are registrations, optional individual payments (if the event organized isn’t free) and much more. The company’s been developing web-apps for 6 years now and their mantra is usability, and it shows! Their website says it’s 5 mins from the moment you sign up to the moment you use it, I say its 3!
It is build in .NET, sports WYSIWYG editing, and using some more AJAX sauce to make the application more intuitive. An event can literally be published with 2 mouse clicks and a few key strokes.
The presenter wore the company colours (quite a sight and deserves a picture) and generously offered the attendance free apricots.
It was a good presentation, the web-application seemed to be very polished and this looks to be a great solution for less technically abled people. A nice way to begin this democamp.
Next, we had the pleasure to hear from the guys behind Jobloft.com, a startup founded by young and enterprising Ryerson students. Also built in .NET, their web-app uses the Google maps API and other technologies in combination with job postings to create job hunting 2.0 for young people.
Focussing on 3 specific sectors (retail, food and hospitality), they aim to be THE place for teenagers and young adults to look for jobs. Special care has been taken in designing the interface, borrowing features here and there (the left menu when searching inspired from Amazon) to create a much simplified interface as compared to the likes of Monster.ca and Workopolis, which cater to a much larger variety of professions.
The founders took around 8 months, from September to May to bring this beast from paper to release. And right now, they have 36 signed employers offering jobs, over a variety of cities in Canada. They provide features such as SMS messaging, RSS feeds and plan to offer community-building features in the future.
The startup is apparently receiving some praises from employers and appears to be a simpler, more effective job posting service than TheBigOnes at this targetted demographic. One example of that is as follows: a job hunter enters a home address then selects a job. Using the Google API, the distance to the workplace from home is displayed, as well as the route to get there; teenagers would, in my opinion, choose a job based out of convienience rather than make a career out of it.
Now my question is: What is the growth potential? Is this section of the job market always expanding? What is the business model? In any case, kudos to those guys, having started the company with seed funding from their relatives, on a tight budget.
FileMobile‘s introductory description doesn’t do the app any justice. The presenter first explained that it was a nice way of sending your media from your camera phone to your blog. It turns out from the demo that it’s much more than this; it’s actually a full-on multimedia sharing application.
One part of it is a media management program. As far as file input is concerned, it allows file uploads from computers or directly from the cellphones as well as on the fly webcam feed recording. Built in flash with FlashCom (now Flash Media Server), it allows all sorts of video broadcasts. Sporting features like picture re-sizing, simulteneous operations (resizing an image while uploading files etc), it is a decent media management software, but online.
The second part of this app is its ‘sharing‘ component. We were treated with live demos(this one features Fabian picking his nose). The app can create entries automatically in the blog engine of your choice, automatically detecting them. In addition, community features are offered, allowing fellow FileMobile members to browse your stuff, if you set them to be public. We had the opportunity to take a peek at this feature, and we got confirmation that there IS a use for all the camera-phone to FileMobile account transmission; the first 3 cameraphone pictures seen were boobs.
For Mac and Linux users out there fearing compatibility problems, the app is meant to work on your system. Boob hunting has never been made easier.
They demo’ing for 3 reasons:
- Usefulness: To find projects this could be used in.
- To raise awareness of its existence.
- For feedback.
In a nutshell, it is a mechanism to get any UI translated in any number of languages (spoken, not programming languages). Taking input from any .yml, .NET .xml files or in .csv‘s, the framework can substitute the UI’s language through an easy to use interface. Through the same interface, the text-to-be-translated can be viewed and translated on the fly. The translations can be stored in a database or as a flat file, in the above mentioned input formats. Languify was built using Ruby on Rails.
This tool might prove to be useful for applications like Jobloft.com which hasn’t been built with internationalization in mind.
The demo showcased a choice of languages consisting of Japanese, German and English, so for those who might ask, yes unicode is supported. Hurray for 2-byte characters.
Last but not least, Michael McDerment from Freshbooks.com came to do a presentation on how to measure the success of a web-based service. Bending the no-powerpoint rules, he used html slides to discuss the problems web businesses face concerning sales.
He adapts the sales funnel model to web services, the top being visits, followed by trial then ending by purchase. If visits are 100% of the incoming traffic, trials go down to 10% of those people followed by only 1% that actually purchase the service. And THAT’s considered good.
The classical problem is this: How to increase sales? Some splurge more on marketting, generating more traffic.
What Michael suggests is to first use a more sophisticated funnel model. The following one is more realistic, with current web services now offering trials and free limited usage:
Starting at 100% with visits, 10% at trial, 9% at login to trial account, 5% as active users and 1% at purchase.
Notice how he added the ‘login to trial account’ phase. The solution he proposes is to analyze where people are lost in the funnel model and attempts to minimize this number. As far as FreshBooks is concerned, he found that he lost 60% of the people that signed up for a trial to the actual trial login process. Only 40% bothered to go in and fill all the forms before being able to log in. A thoughtful change to the sign-up process for trials fixed that problem for Freshbooks. The moral of the story is this: expand the funnel model, find the ‘limiting factor’ and swiftly fix it. In his case, it was a usability problem.
We only got to the actual theme of the presentation in the last few minutes; Google Analytics, while good at providing high level data is not so good at providing more detailed info. Amongst the data to watch are: login/logout rates for a single user, which page are being accessed more frequently and of course finding and eliminating limiting factors. Another way to test the service is to use the classical usability tests: using random people to go through a task, asking questions etc…
This was yet another exciting democamp, with very polished applications. The next democamp might not take place at the end of August because it coincides with BarCampEarth, but more details are to be posted. Until then, see you later!