Monday, October 13, 2008

22 Days: I Have A Lot To Do

I have a lot to do! Despite working a long day today, I have nothing to show for it. Well, sort of. Groupthink's UI relies extensively on AJAX, which basically means that JavaScript in the page talks to the server in the background. I have to get this stuff working first, but it's just not very exciting. I haven't yet decided if I'm using XML or JSON for getting data from the server (it's trivial to change from one to the other, just a change in a template). I'm leaning one way, but I'm interested in feedback from others.

I have a slightly modified XYZ statement, after some feedback:

Groupthink is an information manager for people working together that allows them to easily and efficiently organize their work.
I'm not completely in love with the term "information manager" because I think people may think PIM, but it's the best phrase I have so far. Again, feedback welcome.

And, on an unrelated note, one of the mantras for server security is "never trust the client." What this means is that, even with a smart client in the browser, any information that comes from the client is suspect -- it might be from somebody trying to deceive the server. Even a small, new service like Puzzazz isn't immune. I found out today that somebody was making up URLs on the server, trying to get it to reveal the solutions to puzzles they hadn't solved. Because of the way solutions are safeguarded, it didn't work, but, because it didn't occur to me that anyone would try it, they got a Server Error. It's now fixed and such invalid requests are simply ignored. Maybe they forgot to read the FAQ:
Can I cheat?
That's up to you. The only person whose fun you will be spoiling is your own. If you think you're cheating, then we recommend you don't.


Mike Koss said...

The new XYZ is better. I just cracked my copy of The Marketing Playbook (the first place I saw XYZ written about). I like their very simple advice on creating the most effective XYZ statement (page 298):

People have to believe that you are the only X (category of offering) that solves their Y (customer problem) in Z (differentiated [sic]) unique way.

With that in mind, how can we rate your XYZ?

X - "information manager" is a pretty broad/vague category. It's much better than the previous "tool", however!

Y - "people working together". I had forgotten that a good Y should imply the PROBLEM these customers have. So this need to be expanded.

Z - "easily and efficiently organize their work". Not really differentiated from any other "information manager".

Let me take a stab/example:

Groupthink is a task tracking application for people who work simultaneously with multiple groups and projects that tames the chaos of communicating and coordinating with multiple disparate groups but gives each individual a simple view of their own world.

Note that brevity has gone out the window - but I think that's OK. We're aiming for specificity and clarity of mission; it takes more words to achieve it.

X - "task tracking application". Maybe this is not accurate for what you're actually building, but something like this is much more targeted and focused (which means fewer competitors to have to beat!)

Y - "people who work simultaneously with multiple groups and projects". Note how we're hinting at the problem space here - this could be even more explicit, I think.

Z - "tames the chaos of communicating and coordinating with multiple disparate groups but gives each individual a simple view of their own world". The idea here - solving a complex problem (communication and coordination), while making it look simple to each user.

Mike Koss said...

BTW, I vote for JSON over XML - much easier to deal with on the client, and, as you said, it's 6-of-one-half-dozen-the-other as far as dealing with it on the server (see simplejson python library, e.g.)

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