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SimpleCrew Updates

SimpleCrew.com Gets A Makeover

Over the last few weeks, I implemented a redesign of our marketing and sales page here at SimpleCrew.com.

This is the 5th design we’ve implemented for the site since first launching it in February 2012, and with it has come the most significant structural change to the website so far. Namely, I built this version of the website using a website builder tool for WordPress called OptimizePress, but more on that later.

Here’s a look into some of the past designs of the SimpleCrew website, and some insights behind the inspiration, design, and development for each.

The first design we implemented in February 2012 was a simple one-page email capture:

This was our site before we had a product available for testing, when the app was just an idea. In fact, as you can see, back in 2012 the original name for the app was “FanMobilizer” – an homage to a marketing agency for artists and bands that I’d worked with before (FanManager)

From our friend Dan Schwartz, a real estate wholesaler, we learned early on that the app was going to be useful for industries outside of entertainment, so we changed the name to SimpleCrew to reflect the broader potential.

The original website design was inspired by the GroupMe website. Both featured a one-page scroller, a rich, descriptive product graphic, and sign-up inputs on alternating sides:

Starting out in 2012, I’d played with HTML a little bit, but I had no experience with CSS or WordPress. I designed a mock-up of the site in Photoshop, and then sent it to Mike to hack together in WordPress.

We recognized that Mike’s time was better spent building the actual app as opposed to the marketing site, so I started to play around with WordPress, and by the time the first version of the SimpleCrew app went live in October 2012, I was able to implement a new design on WordPress:

This design featured a fixed header, with pricing, sign-up, and log-in fixed along the top, a descriptive graphic in the middle, and input fields horizontally along the bottom.

A few months later, I slightly modified this version:

I kept this design for the longest so far – it stuck with us for almost a full year from the beginning of 2013 to the beginning of 2014.

At this time, I was still designing in Photoshop, and painstakingly hacking a theme together and placing images using custom CSS and HTML in WordPress.

It took a couple days to put together a single page. And once I had pages together, I really wouldn’t want to touch them for fear of breaking the custom CSS I was hacking together for each page.

It was a really slow process to make any changes or to ship new landing pages, so I started experimenting with Twitter Bootstrap and in March this year, I implemented this design using Bootstrap on top of WordPress:

Bootstrap looked great and was faster to use than customer coded HTML and CSS, but ultimately it was still using HTML inside WordPress which is messy, and it still took a couple hours to ship new pages.

Then in May this year, my friend Anton showed me OptimizePress – a website page builder for WordPress.

With OptimizePress, I’m able to build a ship pages in a drag-and-drop editor in minutes. It saves a lot of the deploying time, and is extremely thorough and flexible so I can pretty much get everything I need from it.

Here’s what the SimpleCrew website looks like today:

Now, I’m using a Vimeo Pro widget to put a tour video on the front page. I also have a new “customers”  section under the home page for social proof, and created a new Testimonials page where I share some testimonials from out customers.

I’m really happy with the current version of the site, and especially with OptimizePress. With the new setup, I don’t have to mess with HTML or CSS beyond a couple tweaks if I want anything customized beyond the (quite flexible) customization options already build into OP. And I can ship new pages in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days.

Click around the site and the blog here, and let me know what you think. And if you have any questions about OptimizePress for your website, let me know. I’m happy to help!

-Alan

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SimpleCrew Updates

Key Android App, Database, and Server Updates

Over the last week, we’ve shipped a couple key Android App, database, and server updates to SimpleCrew.

The updates addressed a couple of the most urgent scaling issues we’ve faced to date.

Here’s a look into the recent updates, and the problems they addressed.

System-Wide Server Crashing – Android App and Server Update.

In our update a few weeks back, I disclosed a heavy load issue on our server that was causing system-wide crashing.

During this time, some users were experiencing login issues, photo upload failures, and slow connections.

Over the past few weeks, Mike identified the issue as a flaw in an old version of our Android app where, when a photo upload failed due to low service coverage, the app would get into a never ending loop of re-posting the photo to our server.

At the time, since the server was forced to accept any photo being uploaded, the never-ending upload loop would cause the SimpleCrew server to crash and be inaccessible to other users.

Mike made a number of server updates to combat the self-destructive mobile app, and using insights from our analytics/tracking system Mixpanel, we were able to identify which user’s Android apps were stuck in infinite loops, and contacted them directly to ask them to re-boot their apps.

Finally, we contracted a mobile app developer to update our Android app and resolve the issue completely. The updated Android app was released this weekend. Download it in the Android Market.

1000+ Photos Issue – Database Update.

This was an interesting issue that some of our biggest customers were expeirencing when their campaigns would reach 1000+ photos.

Our original database design (MongoDB for the techies) was not optimized for querying large numbers of photos.

The design was optimized for more flexibility, but as we came to find, it would eventually break down when campaigns reached 1000+ photos.

Over the last few weeks, Mike was able diagnose the issue, and built updates to the database schema design and application.

Then, this weekend – the trickiest part – Mike was able to migrate all the existing campaigns to work with the new system.

Crush.

These scaling issues presented some of the most urgent challenges we’ve faced so far in our (brief) history, so many thanks to those of you who’ve been patient with us and helped us with feedback as we worked through them.

Today, you guys are submitting over 1,000 photos on our system every day, and your campaigns are reaching 1000+ photos with greater and greater frequency.

Though the issues were frustrating, we reminded ourselves that in the grand scheme of things, scaling issues are an indcation of a useful product being used.

For that, we’re thankful, and will continue to work hard to make SimpleCrew the best solution for your business.

– Alan VanToai

Categories
SimpleCrew Updates

April product updates, and upcoming mobile app release.

Happy Monday, folks! We’ve been busy over the last several weeks. Here’s a laundry-list of product updates now live on SimpleCrew.

First – a word on Mobile. Over the last few weeks, several people have experienced photo uploading issues from iPhone. The latest update of iOS (iOS7.1) has caused crashing and upload issues with our current SimpleCrew app.

Over the last 6 weeks, we’ve been working closely with our friends Nico and Cristian from moblox.io to design and develop fully revamped and redesigned mobile apps for both iPhone and Android.

Along with an updated design and several key feature updates (including the ability to create new campaigns and add/remove people from campaigns in the mobile app – shoutout to our friends at DAWGSinc: we’re comin’ for ya!), the new mobile apps will address the crashing issues some of you have been experiencing.

The iOS app was submitted for iTunes review last week and should be available shortly. Android app soon to follow.

On to the other app updates… a big list for ya! Check it out:

Updated “Stats” roster in campaigns

Previously, the “Stats” page in campaigns included everyone on your team, regardless of whether or not they were assigned to that campaign. In this update, only team member associated with each campaign will show up in the Stats page for that campaign.

That, and Admins and Owners are labeled since they have access to every campaign.

Change password option

Users can now change their passwords by going to their “My Account” page, from the link in the top right hand corner (when logged in on the web).

Download all photos

Admins and Owners can now download all photos of active campaigns from the “Export All Photos” button on the dashboard!

The download does not include archived campaigns.

Support page

We launched a support page, which is accessible at www.SimpleCrew.com/support. We will be expanding this into a full knowledge-base of the app, including video and written tutorials that will help our customers get the most from the app.

Link to download mobile app

You can now download the mobile app by going to app.simplecrew.com/getapp from your phone or online. We also included a link to this from our website.

When you go to the link from your computer, you have the option to enter your phone number, and we’ll send you a text with the download link.

Phone numbers on team member accounts

Users can now add a phone number as part of their contact info on member accounts. We plan on rolling out more management features including individual user profiles soon, and having access to phone numbers will be a part of that.

Exciting stuff here. Stay tuned 🙂

Categories
SimpleCrew Updates

New in SimpleCrew: Updated campaign design and functions

This week we released an update to the SimpleCrew campaigns. Here’s what’s new:

Updated Timeline Design

We updated the look of the timeline with new photo cards, new style, and a cleaner overall design. You can now hold your mouse over any photo on the left side, and the corresponding map pin with be highlighted.

Expanded Map View
Click the “Expand Map” button in the bottom left corner of the map to view a larger map with thumbnails.

Campaign Stats
Click the “Stats” tab to see the updated campaign stats page. The number of photos and people assigned are front and center, along with a breakdown of how many photos each person has posted.

Share Campaign
Click the “Share” button in the top right corner, and you can make a campaign publicly shareable.

You can now include cover photos with your publicly shared campaigns, and they look awesome – check it out!

Edit Campaign Title and Description
Click on the pencils icons next to the campaign title and description to edit the campaign details.

Photo Viewer
Click on any photo or map thumbnail to bring up the photo viewer. The updated photo viewer now includes a map that shows the location of where the photo was taken. Click the left and right buttons on your keyboard to flip through the photos.

Works great on mobile
The updated design is now fully responsive – meaning it works great across mobile devices and iPads/tablets. You can even upload photos from your smartphone using the “Add Photos” button.

We hope you enjoy these new improvements, and thanks for using SimpleCrew 🙂

-Alan VanToai
Co-Founder, SimpleCrew

Categories
SimpleCrew Updates

Updated Public Share Timeline, Photo Pop-Ups, and Cover Photos

Happy holiday’s Crew Nation! A fun little update for you guys…

This week, Mike pushed out our new Public Share timeline design for all customers. Check out this example campaign from our friends at Blackspy Marketing. The new design features a sleek new look with a couple key points:

  • The re-designed Photo Thumbnails are bigger for easier viewing
  • Mouse-over any Photo Thumbnail to highlight the corresponding pin on the map
  • New Cover Photos let you prominently display your company or brand
  • Clicking on the thumbnails on the map now brings up the pop-up photo viewer
  • Download all photos as a .zip archive by clicking the icon in the top right corner

The update also features a redesigned pop-up photo modal that comes up when you click on any thumbnail:

  • The new modal includes a map that shows the location of the individual photo
  • See who took each photo, the date and the time info, and any comments for every photo
  • Use the Left and Right Arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the photos (like Facebook)

These changes will start to make their way into the redesign of the entire app that we’ll be releasing in increments over the next few weeks and months. Let us know what you think 🙂

Special thanks to designer Simon Goetz who did a fantastic job working with us to create the new design for the timeline and photo pop-up.

Thanks for reading! Have a Happy New Year – here’s to going big in 2014!