The Objective Blog

Keep up with what we're thinking, reading, and doing.

Getting to Product/Market Fit

February 4th, 2017 - by Brett Derricott - Salt Lake City, Utah

Even though the concept of building an MVP (minimum viable product) has been around for quite some time now, we still don’t encounter many first-time entrepreneurs who understand what the purpose of the MVP is. Many seem to think the goal of the MVP is simply to build the first version of a product using fewer dollars. I would argue that this is only the how but doesn’t address the why.

What is an MVP?

The minimum viable product has been defined and discussed in great detail in many other places, so for our purposes here I’ll only briefly share my own favorite definition of an MVP.

An MVP represents the smallest possible version of a product that can be used to validate product/market fit.

Why Start with an MVP?

The goal of the MVP is to conserve precious resources (time and money) while you find out if your idea has product/market fit. If you have $100,000 in total, it makes sense to spend a small part of that to find out if you’re on the right track before you commit further resources.

Most entrepreneurs we meet place way too much value on their idea. Their confidence is a good thing overall, but the recognition that the idea might not actually play out in the way they’re imagining it seems to be something that it takes time for an entrepreneur to be able to accept. The MVP is a way to counterbalance the entrepreneur’s overabundance of confidence and act as a fact-based sea anchor to keep the entrepreneur from rushing headlong to an early failure.

We recently had a joint meeting with Robb Kunz from BoomStartup and a first time entrepreneur who we are both working with. Robb did a fantastic job explaining to the entrepreneur why he should conserve cash early on so that he would have resources available to pay for the inevitable changes that will come as the market responds to the MVP. I wish I could have recorded Robb’s speech for inclusion here, but for those who are interested in getting great mentorship BoomStartup has launched an online accelerator for just that purpose.

What is Product/Market Fit?

I mentioned above that the goal of the MVP is to help you find out if you have product/market fit. What is product/market fit? Quite simply, it is validation from the market (your potential customers) that the product you have created (your app, SaaS product, etc.) solves a problem or meets a need in a way that they will pay you for it. No amount of surveying people, doing market research, drawing sketches of your ideas, or creating pro forma statements of how much money you will make will ever substitute for putting an actual product in front of an actual customer and watching to see if they pull their credit card from their pocket to give you money. And while you’re likely to initially test your MVP with people you already know, you really haven’t achieved product/market fit until you can replicate that process with a stranger.

Just be prepared for the likelihood that you’ll need to iterate quite a few times before you achieve product/market fit. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get there.

HTTP/2 Will Improve Your Site

February 2nd, 2017 - by Brett Derricott - Salt Lake City, Utah

When was the last time you said, “Technology is always staying the same”? You’ve never said that. No one has. We’re all continually amazed at how fast technology changes. The changing is the thing we find so remarkable.

Well, in some lesser-known cases technology has changed much more slowly than you’d expect. One of those is the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which is the primary protocol driving the communication between your web browser and every web server (site) you visit. The last update to HTTP was version 1.1 in 1999. Crazy, right? Fortunately HTTP/2 is here to bust that slump.

Plenty of articles have already been written that explain the gory technical details of HTTP/2 so for this article I’m only going to summarize the key points for you as a site owner.

Why Switch to HTTP/2?

  • Speed: Websites and browsers that support HTTP/2 can share more information in less time.
  • SEO: Google considers your website’s loading time as a factor in your rankings. Faster sites get higher rankings.
  • Development: If you’ve spent time/money optimizing your website, you know that there are extra steps required to make your site speedy in the HTTP1.1 world (sprites, combining files, domain sharding, etc). In HTTP/2 most of those become unnecessary, and in some cases, they actually become detrimental.

How Do I Switch to HTTP/2?

Most likely, you should hire a developer to do this for you, but in case you’re feeling especially brave I’ll still outline the major steps here. This will also give you an idea of what a developer will need to do for you.

  • Require SSL: If you aren’t already requiring SSL on your website, you should do that ASAP. Google is starting to use that as a ranking factor, and it’s more secure for your visitors. HTTP/2 requires an SSL connection. You can easily tell if your site is up to snuff here by attempting to load your website using http:// at the beginning of your web address. If your website loads and the http:// hasn’t been replaced with https:// you have a problem.
  • Check Audience Compatibility: As much as 75% of your site traffic is already using an HTTP/2 -compatible browser. If your traffic is all US-based it’s probably a much higher percentage. Depending on your business and your audience you may need to consider optimizing for both old and new browsers for a period of time.
  • Undo Your HTTP.1.1 Optimizations: In most cases you’ll want to undo many of the optimizations your website is using in the HTTP1.1 world. HTTP/2 uses one connection, can multiplex, and has a few other performance enhancements that make things like image sprites domain sharding, and combining CSS/JS files not only unnecessary but undesirable. Basically, we’re going back to the way we used to handle website assets before we started worrying so much about HTTP requests.

If you get nothing else from this article, here are your two takeaways: First, require SSL on your website. Second, put HTTP/2 on your to-do list for improving your website. If you need help don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Radar: February 1, 2017

February 1st, 2017 - by Objective - Salt Lake City, Utah

Keeping up with design and technology is a lot of work. Luckily, we enjoy wading through the noise just to find the gems of awesomeness sprinkled throughout. The Radar is our gift to you, Current or Potential Client, so that you can enjoy all of the awesome without any of the drudgery. Unwrap it each week, and know that you’re loved by the geeks and pixel-pushers at Objective.

When Gamification is Appropriate

We’ve had a lot of clients in the past who want to “gamify” their system to make things more exciting and addictive for users. This article explores how and when this is an appropriate user experience decision.

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A CMS Without a Database

This article outlines how to create a website with a CMS without relying on a database. It’s always good to have options other than WordPress, Drupal, etc.

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Handling Money Data Types in Rails 4.2

As of Rails 4.2, there is a ‘money’ type that you can use to strip out currency formatting before saving to your database. This currently requires PostgreSQL.

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Being Cautious with Technology Hype

A lot of people base their architectural and technology decisions on hype. This is something we try to avoid at Objective, taking into consideration learning curves, potential and need of advantages, and productivity with the new technology.

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Managing State in Elixir

This article presents a brief look at state management in Elixir. It’s an illuminating look into how state is managed outside of object-oriented languages.

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Google Open Sources Chrome on iOS

Google has open sourced Chrome for iOS, making it part of the Chromium codebase.

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How to Revert a Faulty Git Merge

Use this advice from Linus Torvalds if you need to revert git history once a faulty branch has been merged into master.

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Creating Visualizations and Charts

Easily create charts and graphs using Plotly’s open source visualization library and online chart creation tool.

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