Thursday, October 9, 2008

26 Days: Towards a Schema

Spent most of today on two tasks:

  • Competitive analysis
  • Defining the schema
The competitive analysis isn't a lot of fun, but it's essential. Among other things, I need it to write my XYZ statement that explains what I'm doing. For those who haven't heard the term, an XYZ statement looks like this:
Groupthink is an X (what) for Y (who) that delivers Z (benefit).
If you're building a business, your XYZ statement is your 10-second elevator pitch. It should be short and to the point. Right now, my description of what I'm doing isn't short and it's not to the point. And my Z, the benefits to the Y, doesn't explain at all how what I'm building is different from the competition. I need to understand them better in order to explain the benefits and differences succinctly. The XYZ statement is about the limit of what I can do on the business side.

To me, the schema is more fun. Fortunately, my schema is not all that complicated, but it's important to get it right because it can be very hard to change later. Schema problems that seem small can multiple over time, by affecting other architectural decisions. A flaw can ripple into your entire project, and it's even worse if you expose your schema (see this post). I know of one project where a simple schema flaw, made years earlier, turned a one-day change into a month-long project because a wall had been reached -- there was no way to move forward without fixing the schema, which also had to be done without disrupting the service.

Case in point: I just launched a web site with memberships and relationships between memberships, but they're different. On most social networking sites, including Puzzazz, relationships between members are reciprocal -- if you are my friend, then I am your friend (Twitter is a notable exception to this). But, on Groupthink, relationships are more complicated and, at the core, they are not reciprocal. Since relationships are an important component of Groupthink, had I designed the schema incorrectly, I would be regretting this for a long time.


Emily said...

XYZ sounds harder than it sounds I want an XYZ from Wall Street right now

Hair Farmer Joe said...

Nice post Roy. Couldn't get past the first puzzle at Puzzazz ...

Since you are in the biz, I am looking for a partner to help develop the Eastside Entrepreneurs Online Social Network ...

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