Signal v. Noise, a publication about the web
What topics would you like to see us address here at Signal vs. Noise and/or on the podcast?
Topics about the following:
What are your beliefs or approaches about making money? Do you believe that money is easy to make?
What made the difference in changing your mindset around making, having and spending money?
2. Recommended reading resources and/or book reviews that really made a practical difference in your business. For example, you read a certain book and as a result of applying the information, you got a certain result in your business. I have seen a couple of those but most of them are just references to where other people were saying similar stuff with you.
3. What counts more in building a successful business – the mindset or the execution? and why? I’m not talking about having a business idea, I’m talking about your entire business philosophy vs the execution.
I have to say, I’m a little surprised you’re asking us. Do what you love, and those who love what you do will follow, no?
Products and services you use to support your business: credit card processor, virtual phone system, accounting, lawyers. Help others benefit from your choices and the thoughts behind them in case they run into similar needs.
Starting from scratch. Gaining momentum. How to overcome the chicken/egg problem of having an unproven entity.
Talk about the entrepreneur landscape as you’re experiencing it.
Big fan of “getting real” type essays.
Your idea of an absolute “must do” list for small start ups.
I enjoy discussions of user interface success and failure for non-tech items. 37Signals isn’t in the business of counseling a dry cleaners, or a hot dog stand or a juice box in how to be better, but it could make for a fun “what if…” scenario. I’d love five minutes worth of the 37Signals take on how to improve the DMV or military procurement or…
When your just starting a business, and your standing there amongst the rest that already have been there for years. What are good methods to attract an audience (over time)?
BTW: I actually miss the 37signals LIVE sessions. It’s been a while…
How to go about developing an idea for a web app when you don’t know the first thing about programming. I do have a clear vision of how the app should work, but a great idea with poor execution won’t get far …
We sometimes deal with customers who send detailed feature suggestions that border on software design…
How do you encourage feedback that is useful and discourage that which is not?
Do you ever discuss the feasibility of suggested features with customers or do you simply say “Thanks” and keep it at that?
You must get a flood of suggestions / requests / feedback and I’d love to know how you use that information and how you respond. Thanks!
I’d like to hear your opinions on naming a website / service. Should a name be descriptive? Or should it just be a fun sounding one? How does choosing a product and domain name influence the business?
I have a solid full-time job, but have a side business and am building a golf app that will cost money for people to use. I’m far from the die hard “entrepreneur” and wouldn’t call myself a “start up” really. It’s just me building an app that I really enjoy, and maybe other people will find it useful.
Do I have a chance in hell at actually making a respectable amount of money from this? Would you say if I did, it would be blind luck?
I’ve kind of subscribed to the notion that if you put your heart into something, if it’s really that good, all of the other bullshit doesn’t always matter too much. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
(Yes, I realize this isn’t really a general topic, but surely I’m not the only one in this position)
Thanks a bunch!
It’s clear what the themes are in your blog – there’s nothing wrong with beating your drum. However, it’s beginning to feel like it’s my head that’s being beaten. For instance did you try calling up Aaron Patzer before you blasted him about selling Mint to Intuit? What books or blogs have you read lately that compel you to consider other points of view about how to run a company?
I don’t get the same vibe from your employees’ posts at all. Their voices are stronger when they’re talking about technology, design and process than they are when they’re talking about business. Perhaps the business topic should have its own blog written by the partners.
It doesn’t really matter what I want, though. You tell us we should scratch our own itch. The same should apply to your writing.
If you rewrote Getting Real today, what would the evolutionary changes be? Would the fundamentals remain unchanged? What have you learned in the interim?
Clearly you are still using user feedback to light your way! Thanks for asking!
I’d like to head more about how 37signals Answers came about. Like a case-study of an actual 37signals app. A run-down of the 2-week development. What are the early lessons from the 2-week cycle? Were there unforeseen constraints? When and how did you decide on the most basic funcationality? Did you just sit down on day 1, and come up with everything, or did you already have an idea? How many iterations did you do on, for instance, the look of the app? That kind of thing would be awesome.
@Adi: I mean no offense, but I’d say 37signals have covered those topics rather extensively by now. See the keynotes and interviews page.
By now, I’ve read, heard, and seen the good people at 37signals talk about that stuff so often that I know what they’re going to say. It’s not that I disagree with them (au contraire, I think it’s all pretty great), but I’d rather hear some shop-talk about what 37signals actually produces, namely their web apps. Their approach to business is also very interesting, but I’ve heard it all so many times (and Rework will be out soon enough, where we can read it all again – something I intend to do myself).
Security of the cloud, given public instances of successful hacking. Is there a way to demonstrate that data pulled onto an Internet server is truly encrypted and password protected?
In a market where every common small business need is not only serviced by 5 different SaaS apps, but 5 very well designed and implemented SaaS apps, I’d be curious to know how you go about evaluating an idea for a product and determining how viable it is.
Success stories of bootstrapped “Getting Real” style web apps. I’d really like to get news like TechCrunch style, but about companies that aren’t getting millions of dollars. Little guys. Things like “Turlix Gets First 200 Paid Subscribers”.
Does anybody know any blogs like this?
Like JR, I would love to hear about your experiences with credit card processing.
Would love to hear what you think about co-founder:
- Is it essential to have co-founder(s)?
- What is an optimal number of co-founders (I think you said 3 in some old post)?
- How to you spot a great co-founder? Does it vary depending on what your abilities/characters are (e.g. find one with leadership/marketing skills but you don’t have it and only like to code)?
The UI discussions have been fantastic. I also enjoyed the podcast where you discussed your two month cycles. In general – what makes you guys work well?
We all have excuses for not having started work on our own business idea. You have heard all of them, from the personal (“I have no time”) to the professional (“You can’t make it in the web 2.0 world without VC funding”). You have addressed most at one time or another – take the excuses you hear the most, that you think have the highest believability but are in fact totally not true and explain why they are excuses. You are at your best when you encourage others, which you do always, and we appreciate.
iPad, Apple, kindle, Amazon
I’d like to know how you test your products.
I’ve seen various posts over the years about how you chose one piece of copywriting over another, or you figured out that one layout converted better than another.
What tools did you use to determine this? Are you using Google Website Optimizer or some comparable tool for A/B or multivariate testing? Any insight you could provide into your testing process would be awesome.
When you don’t agree on something, how do you make the final decision?
Interested in learning about the following:
Do you plan to do any college tours this year
Future product integration
Plans on expanding Sortfolia
I think it would be most powerful if you talked about the trade-offs of the 37signals model. Clearly, you embrace radical approaches to many aspects of business, and you’ve made it work… but what are the shortfalls of your approach, the things it does badly, and how do you deal with them?
I think it would tremendously help those attempting to follow your wake to know, ahead of time, where be monsters!
I’d love to know to more about how things are run with the staff. The latest insight into the three man teams was great. The 4 day work week posts were great too. But those kinds of posts are few and far between.
Who reports to whom?
How do you hire? Use any skill tests? Or just go by how they’ve worked with you?
How do ideas get put in to do priority or not?
Any regular meetings, or is everything need based?
Love that you’ve instilled a passion for products and simplicity, now I’d love more insight on how the 37s machine runs.
How Queen Bee works.
I’m a single person business and developing my backend billing system has been a real pain in the butt.
What happened to the “rails university” idea?
Things have gone wrong, estimates are blown and deadlines are passed, the client is pissed. What next?
I know 37signals team will answer all the request.
The answer is NOT NOW.
What have been your biggest mistakes since you started the company? I love how you guys always promote the right things you do. It would be an interesting (and humbling) experience to see what it is you’ve done that did not.
I’d love to hear about marketing tips for a new startup.
It’s hard to convince/find people when you just start something.
It would be great to get an insight into your software process. The UI case studies you publish are awesome!
Perhaps you could delve a little deeper, and talk about the technologies you use and how you use them when building apps – rspec, cucumber, haml, etc..
more snippits of rails code/best practices
More rails things
I’d like to know how you handle & maintain support for millions of users with so few employees. I understand how easier and logical the software works less support is generated, but with millions of users there probable is a significant amount of support request coming in daily anyway.
Also curious how you succesfully made the transition from webdesign company to the company you now are. How did you handle clients during the transitional period and afterwards? What are the things you have to pay attention to? I’m curious because we’re in the beginning of such a transitional period between doing custom webdesign, consultancy and programming to a SAAS & online concept company
UI insights, software design, and production proces items also are very inspiring
I’d love to see a discussion about the tipping point from taking 37signals from a part time endeavor to a full time job. At one point was it time to leave your full time jobs and take the reigns of 37signals on a full time basis.
I love the podcast series, they are often insightful!
I’d like to hear about what your team does to learn.
I can’t design my way out of a wet paper sack, so I like it when you explain design processes like you’re talking to a 10 year old. It demystifies a little bit for me.
Back end solutions you have developed. I.e. how you deal with inactive accounts etc..
that would be cool.
“Products and services you use to support your business: credit card processor, virtual phone system, accounting, lawyers. Help others benefit from your choices and the thoughts behind them in case they run into similar needs.”
Bacon. Talk about lots and lots of bacon.
Creating a team within a startup. In other words, defining and sticking to roles, not allowing senior management to come in and tell you to code this piece this way because they googled it and here was a (hack) piece of code on how this guy in Catmandu solved a similar problem (only not similar when a techy looks at it). Building a marketing plan and sticking to it – when the Dir of Mktg is in the dev team’s face day in and day out saying how lousy we are and it is causing him to not get sales.
Hope you get the idea…
I’d be interested to hear more about the business side of things: how to build the business, find new clients, get the inspiration for new products, develop new ideas, grow in a sustainable way and all the rest.
I think the technical/productivity/cultural side of 37signals is pretty well covered: you’re all certainly outspoken when it comes to getting things done and out of the door. What isn’t so clear (unless I missed the wood for the trees) is where you find clients to buy all the stuff you’ve built – especially in the early days where you didn’t have the benefit of glowing reviews in widely read media like you do now.
Getting those resistant to adopt and “buy in”. And bacon; I have to agree there.
Do you do TDD or BDD at the start of your projects or later on?
Describe elements of your design process, application structure, scaling problems/solutions and other technical stuff.
How you go about your design process. In your first or second podcast, you talked about how looking at the natural world for inspiration – but how to translate order from that chaos and compile it into a fleshed out piece would be nice to hear.
I would like to see you analyze our government’s effectiveness. Not in a political left vs. right way. But how you would use technology to build an audience and KEEP the audience. What would you do to streamline operations? How would you display solid leadership during such times as these? Etc.
I’d like to see more of your thoughtful criticisms of user interfaces (good and bad). I’d also like to hear more about the tools, languages, processes used in development.
Can you teach me how to make money on Twitter?
More of your thoughts on college. Is it necessary? What degrees would you recommend for someone who wants to be an entrepreneur? What courses to take? First steps you recommend taking after you graduate? What schools to go to? Have you ever had anyone turn you down because you didn’t go to Stanford, MIT, or an Ivy?
I think it would be interesting to know a bit about deploying updates to your software. You don’t work with ‘major cycles’ as in desktop software. How do you keep track of versions, do you save up changes and roll them out at once, or make every little change seperately.
I don’t mean to go too deep into Rails and its scripts, that might be too specific (I am a PHP developer myself btw). But are there general tips or best practices you have found, dealing with short release cycles, multiple products and still keeping stuff bug free (or as bug free as possible :)
“How to go about developing an idea for a web app when you don’t know the first thing about programming. I do have a clear vision of how the app should work, but a great idea with poor execution won’t get far …”
I second that! We are not all programmers!
In short, my real story: I’m 25 and I have spent 7 years following techrunch which resulted in $90k+ debt. A few months ago I read “Getting Real” and within 1 month actually started a “real” web business making sales from week #1. So my request would be for you guys to continue the signal flow. 1st signal for me was to stop reading TC. 2nd signal was to start charging from day 1. 3rd signal was focus on providing a great service while keeping it simple. The great thing about charging from day 1, is you can focus on how to increase sale conversions which is the whole point of my comment/request. As a long time true follower, you’ve converted me and I am so glad you did. Hope the 4th signal is copywriting for convincing people to take actions (whether it is to click on Live Help links or actual sales).
Talking about it or just freakin’ doing it! You guys seem very nimble (agile?), not bogged down in heavy project management, documentation, etc. You’ve most likely developed this approach out of the previous years of consulting or past lives in other jobs. Would love to hear some war stories, some how-not-tos and some don’t-just-don’ts.
Like a lot of the others, I would like to see some posts about the business structure. Since a lot of us are starting up or running small businesses, learning our lessons about things like:
group health benefits,
All the little things that are important to be successful, but arent necessarily design or development related.
I heard DHH mention that 37signals single login took much longer than initially expected.
I’d like to hear about how the project got off track, or when the project got off track. How did 37signals recognize the problem and how did you address the situation.
Another alternative: talk about an improvement that died: an idea that was approved, developed, and even deployed before realizing it was a mistake. How did you make fix the situation?
Would like to know how u go about getting traction. Like how do u do your marketing to get more awareness and paying customers. I reckon once u reach a tipping point it grows on it’s own, but I’d love to hear how u guys got there. :)
I often find that entrepreneurs have multiple loves. What other businesses do you guys like? Do you have any side businesses?
Early stage customer engagement / retention and getting to break even
I am a regular follower of your blog. You guys are doing fine. Continue posting in the same lines as you have always been doing. However any thing more technical from 37Signals is always good :)
I’d like to hear more information about how to start a small business. Things to look out for when first getting started.
Also, what about pricing of development work?
I know you all have discussed pricing of your monthly services, but what about when you were first doing one-off websites and such? What is the best approach to price individual websites, especially ones that are more than just a “brochure website”?
As always, keep up the good work! No matter what the complainers on this site say, you have seriously impacted MY approach to development and personal life.
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