Category Archives: consulting

Zed builds and bugs

zedI did some consulting for Zed builds and bugs a few months back and made some suggestions on how they could improve their marketing and product. In particular I focussed on their marketing message/positioning, website, Adwords campaign and set-up usability issues. They have now been kind enough to write-up their experiences working with me on their blog. Best of all, they have included some hard data on improvements since they implemented the recommendations:

Metric Change
Website Visitors 10% Increase
Trial Downloads 200% Increase
Google Organic Search Hits 320% Increase
Visitor Time Spent on Website 250% Increase

Obviously I can’t claim too much credit, as they did all the hard work. But it certainly looks like things are heading in the right direction and I think the changes to their website are a huge improvement.

Zed is an interesting product, integrating a continuous integration server with a bug tracker, wiki and forums, all behind a slick web interface. Obviously there are plenty of products that do these things individually, but Zed’s power comes from the integration of them all. For example, a build failure can automatically generate a bug report and bug fix can trigger an automatic build.

If you are interested in continuous integration and/or a more integrated approach to developer collaboration I recommend you try Zed. If you have less than 5 users you can take advantage of their free community edition.

DeepTrawl

deeptrawlI have been an enthusiastic user of Deeptrawl since the first beta was announced on the BOS forum. I run DeepTrawl on http://www.perfecttableplan.com every time I make major changes to ensure that there are no broken links, missing images or other website bugs. It has saved me quite a few potentially embarassing mistakes and helped me sleep a bit sounder at night. So I was very pleased when the author, Jonathan Matthews, asked me to do a day of consulting to assist in his efforts to move DeepTrawl sales to the next level.

The consultation ran to two long phone calls, lots of emails, some research and testing and a report with 21 pages of recommendations covering areas including: licensing, pricing, SEO, website, promotion, Adwords and usability. Here is what Jonathan had to say about the process:

I approached Andy Brice to do some consulting specifically because I wanted to increase sales largely through improving my marketing efforts.

Andy’s approach is one which I think those from a coding background will appreciate. From the first phone call it was clear his process was refined and methodical: not concentrating on fluffy marketing fads but rather on solid proven methods.

Throughout the consulting process it was clear that Andy was taking all the positive and negative marketing knowledge he gained making his own product successful & applying it to create unique recommendations for my own product.

The final report was delivered before the due date & on budget. Reading the report I was stunned by the wealth of information it contained. The report doesn’t just contain dry facts & statistics, the emphasis is clearly on actionable points. Reading Andy’s justifications for making his recommendations it’s clear that implementing them will ratchet up the effectiveness of my marketing efforts one step at a time.

My conclusion is that Andy’s consulting is probably the most cost effective investment I will ever make in my business; I fully expect the expenditure to be repaid many, many times over.

Jonathan Matthews, www.deeptrawl.com

If you have a website that runs to tens or hundreds of pages that you need to QA, I would definitely recommend  giving DeepTrawl a try. To sweeten the deal Jonathan is offering readers of this blog 20% off until the end of July (go to the buy page, click a ‘buy now’ button, then click ‘the checkout’ button, then enter the coupon code: successfulsw01 ).

Consulting testimonial: Reserviz

Working as a micro-ISV needs lots of different skills, but no-one can have all of them. When you’re developing a software product for your independent venture, it’s easy to lose sight of some issues, just because there are so many of them to cover, and so few hours in a day. I realised that to help me re-focus and prioritise the key tasks after the code was complete needed the catalyst of a fresh pair of eyes, to verify or change the plans I had. Simply chatting to a knowledgeable professional made all the difference to perspective and priorities. I was expecting that from Andy Brice, as I’d read about his work with other micro-ISVs. What I wasn’t expecting was his breadth of business knowledge as well as his technical knowledge. Being able to discuss business objectives, markets, pricing, promotion as well as SEO and coding was a great punctuation point in the development of the Reserviz online service, and it helped me develop a much more focussed set of priorities to complete the initial launch period. Don’t expect from Andy a glib confirmation that everything you’ve done is fine – he’ll give you an honest assessment, and then help you work out a plan. Think of Andy as the Swiss Army Knife you need in your toolbox!

Mike Gorman, www.Reserviz.com

reserviz appointment and room booking

I have been doing some consulting for Mike Gorman of Quartile Software on Reserviz. Reserviz is an online service for booking rooms, people and other resources. I have primarily been helping Mike with positioning (deciding which vertical markets to focus on), online marketing (including SEO and Google Adwords) and testing the usability of the website. It was a slight departure for me, as most of my experience is with desktop apps. But it just proved that the vast majority of what is true for the marketing and usability of desktop apps also applies to web apps.

I think Reserviz has a very attractive website with a nice balance between simplicity and flexibility. If you know anyone who is still using a tatty old appointment book? Tell them to checkout Reserviz for simple online appointment and resource booking (first month free!).

GraphicDesignerToolbox

I launched my product a year ago, but so far haven’t had much luck selling it. I desperately needed advice from a person that could take a look at my situation and help figure out what’s wrong and how to move on. Andy Brice has been through all this and knew exactly what I was struggling with.

Simon Strandgaard, www.GraphicDesignerToolbox.com

gdt-screenshot

GraphicDesignerToolbox is a Mac OS X application for creating computer generated graphics. It allows users to snap together generative and filter blocks to create a vast range of different types of images, without any drawing or programming. It is an impressively slick and well engineered piece of software. But sales were unsatisfactory. I did some consulting for the author, Simon Strandgaard, focussed on improving the marketing and the user’s initial experience of the product. As a result he has made a lot of changes, including:

  • Re-thought the product positioning, marketing message and target customer.
  • Renamed the application to GraphicDesignerToolbox (from the less descriptive ToolboxApp).
  • Moved the website from ToolboxApp.com to GraphicDesignerToolbox.com.
  • Commissioned a new application icon.
  • Completely rewritten the website.
  • Improved the initial user experience with a quick tour and easy to load samples.
  • Improved the product documentation.
  • Changed the trial model.
  • Increased the price.
  • Released version 1.0.

You can see captures of old and new versions of the website below:

toolboxapp_cropped1

Old home page - click to enlarge

graphicdesignertoolbox

New home page - click to enlarge

It is has been very rewarding to see the product and marketing improve so much in just three months. Especially as someone else was doing all the hard work! I think the changes are a huge improvement all round and I wish Simon and GraphicDesignerToolbox every success. v1.0 was released today and Simon tells me he has sold as many licences today as in the previous 5 months.

If you have a Mac you can head over to GraphicDesignerToolbox.com and download the trial.

Consulting testimonial: Schemax Calendar

Simon Shutter of Schemax Calendar was kind enough to send me this testimonial after I did a day of consulting for him:

I recently hired Andy Brice to review Schemax Calendar. To make the most of his time (and my money) I gave Andy a summary document of the product covering everything from technical architecture to marketing. We had two highly productive discussions via Skype and Andy provided an excellent report replete with helpful advice and insight. Throughout the experience, and despite an eight hour time difference, Andy was extremely professional. He was a great listener, constructive in his feedback, generous with his wisdom and clear with his recommendations.

Simon Shutter, Schemax Design

If you are part of a team that uses Microsoft Outlook I recommend you look at the schedule visualisation capabilities of Schemax Calendar.

Could your business use an independent and experienced perspective?

Consulting testimonial: Tudumo

After I did some consulting for Richard Watson of Tudumo.com he was kind enough to send me this testimonial:

Once I’d finished with the major part of Tudumo development, I got to a point where I needed to take stock of the situation. Rather than making every mistake myself, I thought it would be much better to hire Andy to take a look at my application and essentially ask him “if this was yours, what would you do now?”

It turns out that’s exactly what his approach to your business is. We had a couple of phone discussions after which he scoured my approach and website, applying his experience to my situation.

I was left with a six-page action list, which serves me in a number of ways:
1) It validates what I was doing right
2) Points me in some new directions
3) Gives me an actionable set of tasks which serve as a periodic reminder of which tasks will give me most benefit.
4) A few Andy-only tricks that I hope my competitors don’t get!

In fact, forget it – big waste of time. ;0)

If you are looking for a simple and slick TODO list application I recommend you take a look at Tudumo.

Could your business use an independent and experienced perspective?

Consulting offer ends 31st March

graph.pngI am offering £100 off my daily consulting fee until the end of March. Could you use an experienced and objective review of your strategy, marketing and product? When you have been eating, sleeping and breathing your business it can be difficult to ‘see the wood for the trees’ and a fresh perspective can be a huge help. More details here.