Why we all got Slack (and loved it)

Slack Application

 

As company that builds apps to improve productivity, we're always on the look out for tools to improve our own workflow.

We try out our competitors products, we try out new gadgets and we love experimenting at tweaking our processes. Sometimes those products stick, and sometimes they don't. HipChat was one tool we used that managed to sneak it's way under the radar into our communication process.

 

For us, the best part of HipChat was actually not the chat, but the stream of useful data from other sources. When integrated with Github, Zapier, Twitter and a few of our other tools, it easily brought all of our communication into one place. We even had our CI test results imported into their own channel (complete with animated GIFS of our automated browser tests!).

HipChat wasn't without its issues though. In our opinion, it's not the nicest looking tool, and some core features like search were clunky to use. We're big fans of good design and UX so the moment we saw Slack we knew it was a worthy competitor to HipChat. As most of the BugHerd team are also gamers, the backstory of Tiny Speck (the developers of Slack and Glitch) was intriguing to us. We had to know more!

So, a few of us tried it out one morning, and within an hour we had the entire team switched over, our HipChat history imported and all our feeds up and running. How's that for successful onboarding! One less technically minded team member summed it up nicely with a "Hey, this does everything the other one does, but it looks sexier!"

 

Bottom line is, the team at Slack have done what all innovators need to do. They looked at the space, understood what was working and what wasn't and saw an opportunity to create value in ways the incumbents hadn't, a philosophy after our own hearts.

Out of the box, the way Slack handles search, files, documents and discussions is so far ahead of HipChat, it's quite amazing. It's team chat, with a side of Basecamp ... and it works!

Most of the team were happy to jump across straight away. We did have one hold-out who wanted to remain with HipChat, but we deleted his account and that pretty much solved that. 

Tableflip

Of course, it's not all sunshine and lollipops. Our favourite (tableflip) emoticon isn't there, and the emotes that are there are more Apple than they are Reddit. You also need a magnifying glass to see them clearly without zooming in. It sounds like a minor quibble, but if you were to ever meet our team you'd understand (mindblown), (firstworldproblems) and (itsatrap) are core conversational elements. Slack is perhaps just a little too candy flavoured in some regards.

HipChat also does a good job of condensing the on-screen messages so that more of the conversation can be followed across one screen. Slack's minimal mode does address this issue though it means you miss out on some of the visual appeal. 

After a few weeks of settling into using Slack when the team was asked to share thoughts on the change from Hipchat a universal response was that Slack is more reliable, has more features they actually use and the emoticons need work. All things considered, we're likely to stick with a product that keeps continuing to improve our workflow and we're happy to stay Slackers right now.

If you're wondering, this isn't a paid promotion for Slack. We simply like to share with our BugHerding family when we come across a great product!

BugHerd note : The Slack help centre has some handy info to setup the programmable bot which solves our missing emoticons.

 

Some Commonly Asked Questions

Whether you’re a brand new BugHerder, or you've been tracking bugs with us for years, there’s a common theme to some questions that pop-up from all customers. Whilst we're continuously on the look out for ways to streamline your development process, it’s easy to forget some of the fundamentals. So without further ado here are answers to our most commonly asked questions.


My Task Board is way too busy, I only care about tasks directly involving me.

Well okay, not exactly a question, but it comes up all the time. Sorting through the Task Board is actually super easy! There’s a few ways to sort through bug reports, especially when you're working as part of a large team. 

The best way to sort for your bugs is simply to click your user icon in the Members section - this will display the bugs with your name on it. The same functionality works in all the sections below it too. Are you looking for all the bugs submitted by one of your Guests in particular? Click their name to display their submitted tickets! Need to find only bugs with a particular tag on it? Click one of the tags in the Tag section.

 

Search by user

Search by user

The Search Bar also operates in a similar fashion - click the search bar and start typing to search via text, or pause to see a number of options that you search directly with. For more info on how to search for tasks head here

Hey, why don’t you provide integration with Product XYZ? 

In a perfect world, everything would integrate with everything. However sadly it’s not the case - not all tools offer the API that allows us to offer integration at a level of quality we're happy with. Some integrations and some services have such a small user base that in the Venn diagram of "BugHerd Users" and "XYZ Users", the overlap is unfortunately too small for us to justify devoting time to. 

 

A popular way around this is using other apps to help close the gap - there are many automation services that specialise in this, and do a great job at it! Around the BugHerd office, we like to use Zapier and find that it covers nearly all our needs. They have hundreds of automation options to utilise - and it also offers some pretty economical account options too. 

Oh no! The person who created the account left the company!

As much as we love our co-workers, they sometimes have a habit of leaving us, which can cause problems when various paid services are in their name. BugHerd requires there to be a “Creator” title on all accounts, as both a contact point for us, and someone who has full control over all aspects of the account.  If your Creator has left, just email our Support team, let us know which person on your account will be the new Creator, and we’ll take care of the rest!

My credit card was declined, even though all the details I entered are correct!

This is a pretty common thing amongst people who don’t live in Australia who don’t make many large purchases from overseas companies. BugHerd is an Australian company based in Melbourne, Victoria, meaning that for a lot of our Herders across the pond, some financial institutions can get a bit trigger-happy when it comes to what they deem 'unusual overseas transactions.' 

We understand it can be annoying. It’s easy fixed though - if your payment gets rejected without a very descriptive error, it's probably for this reason, so just call up your card issuer and confirm that it’s a legitimate transaction and they’ll add it to their approved list. Attempt the payment again and it should be fine!

I have a question that I need answered NOW.

 

We pride ourselves on giving top notch customer support, we understand there are times where waiting even a couple of minutes can really kill your bug-squashing mojo. If you’ve got a question that needs answering sooner rather than later, we have a few options. We’re on most social media platforms, especially Twitter (@BugHerd), feel free to tweet us and if it’s something we can answer in 140 characters, we’ll do it. We’re also on Facebook and Google+ if you prefer those flavours of social media. But even better than that is our Knowledge Base, which contains a number of detailed answers to getting the most of our BugHerd.

I really love BugHerd, but I have a suggestion on how to improve it...

We’re always looking for ways to improve BugHerd!

 

We’re currently in the middle of working on some pretty huge updates for release later in the year. If there’s a few glaring omissions you feel we’re missing, or maybe a feature just doesn’t quite work how you thought it would, we have a special Uservoice page set up for just this reason. It’s monitored by the BugHerd team and we’ve made a number of changes and improvements suggested from this page. It’s also a good way to see how other people use BugHerd and other people can vote for your ideas, and you can vote on their ideas too!

As you can see we're pretty keen to find out what makes our BugHerding family tick and to help wherever we can so don't be afraid to let us know your thoughts.

Featured client - Kiwi Digital Creative

Kiwi Digital Creative is a small but mighty digital agency specialising in websites, web applications, mobile apps and creative digital projects. We spoke with Phil Benoit from KiwiDC about how BugHerd fits into their web project management process.

BugHerd and web project management - 

BugHerd fits in with our project management processes right from the start. When the work is scheduled to start I fire up a Virtual Private Server in the cloud, one for each client. I then create a project in BitBucket and add the new project into BugHerd. For all of my staging environments I provide a basic introduction about the project, along with project updates, links to templates and the Content Management System site, and provide a short intro to BugHerd and link to the How to Guides section of the BugHerd site.

While I am building out the wireframes or designs I am often logging bugs and feature improvements for myself into the project. It’s great that I can keep all issues or improvements relating to the code in one place. As more and more projects come in and I start expanding my team, I know I can add more users, invite more guests and generally get a more accurate appreciation of the project's quality. 

On using BugHerd with clients - 

I generally have a rule when giving my customers something to use, “Can my mum use it?” If it's too much effort or it's too time consuming to use correctly you're not getting the whole picture. Everything must be simple and easy to use, BugHerd fits that requirement. 

 

Bug reporting in BugHerd

When I open up the server for client review I often get one or two bugs with "testing" or "this is fun" written in. My clients really like using the product and in turn I get a really good appreciation of the environment they are using for testing. 

 

I used to work in a large agency in London where we had a different bug tracker. Almost every bug report required you to follow up with a request for more details, either about location of the issue on the page, the testing environment or something else that BugHerd already provides for me out of the box.  

“BugHerd is great for providing bug reports with accurate and relevant information that other bug trackers just don’t provide out of the box.”
— Phil Benoit - KiwiDC

Get started on Search Engine Optimisation.

Search engine optimisation

It’s no secret that Search Engine Optimisation takes time, a fair amount of effort and quite a bit of technical know-how. Fast growth and acquisition is often a key focus of online start-ups, to get as many customers as possible in a quick amount of time. SEO in the beginning is almost counter intuitive to this. It’s like trying to light a fire with a log instead of twigs … it takes a lot more time to generate visitors than simply paying for them outright via pay per click.

For BugHerd, organic search visitors convert to a trial faster than any others and they have a higher percentage of conversions than from any other source. It made obvious sense to focus on growing these valuable site visitors.

Upon analysis of competitor sites, it appeared there was something lacking in most direct bug tracking competitors. Evidence of SEO.  Far from being start-ups themselves, some of these competitors are well established juggernauts in the industry yet it appears that little effort has been put into establishing and/or maintaining growth of search.

Don’t tell my boss I said this, but there are a lot of really easy things to be done to increase SEO that don’t require a Marketing genius. Simple activities can go a long way to increasing rankings without requiring any more resource than time. It can be pretty darn rewarding to see what happens when a little effort is put into optimisation. Though many efforts may seem small and trivial, when put together they can make a BIG difference, kind of like that stick/log analogy earlier.

A good place to start is some good old keyword research. Start a spreadsheet to compile your findings and look at your own site’s words … Which ones are repeated the most? Which ones provide the most visitors? Which ones convert those visitors the most? There are a number of tools to help you, I really like the WordTracker Scout browser extension for on-page keyword analysis

 

WordTracker Scout

WordTracker Scout

Check out your competitors. What’s in their HTML Title tags? What’s their meta description? Have they accidentally gone and given you all their keywords by providing meta keywords (note: These have no bearing on Google rankings any more)? What do they have in their image alt-text? What words appear most frequently on their pages? Personally I like using the SEO Site Tools extension to help me out with this info. 

 

SEO Site Tools

SEO Site Tools

Don’t forget to look at your paid keywords that are driving visitors and conversions, are they reflected within your site content? 

By now you should have a handy spreadsheet that looks a little something like this:

 

You didn’t think I’d actually give you my hard earned keyword list did you?

You didn’t think I’d actually give you my hard earned keyword list did you?

The hardest part is choosing which ones to try and rank competitively for. Search is competitive and if it were easy to rank number one for “low interest credit card” it wouldn’t cost a fortune in SEO and paid search dollars to appear on the first page … seriously when you have a chance check out how competitive THAT market is. I thought bug tracking was busy!

Ideally you want to find that sweet spot between high traffic and low competition words to start with. I use a combination of the MOZ keyword difficulty tool and Google Adwords keyword planner to work out which words are the best to tackle and for giving new keyword ideas. 

Without giving away too much of a trade secret, we found that the though term “bug reporting” yields a lot of visitors it is extremely competitive and a lot harder to rank for than the term “bug reports.” 

So you’ve got a list of keywords, you need to optimise your site for the terms you want to rank for. It’s not simply enough any more to shove them all into your title tags, meta descriptions, H1s and alt-texts, in fact too much of this and you may even become blacklisted for certain terms (if they don’t match your on-page content). Keep them nearby, use them organically within your blog posts and page content. Sure, optimise your page elements but ensure they make sense within the context of the page and you’ll see your rankings start to improve. 

Of course, I recognise that SEO isn’t just about keywords, this is just one element I assumed competitors would have nailed when I investigated. Turns out plenty were still rubbing two twigs together in the dark … there’s plenty of opportunity for small companies and start-ups to enter the search market competitively.

Though SEO takes time to generate visitor growth and to research optimisations, there’s no real argument to not go ahead and get started. These are just some of the tools to achieve higher rankings and once you start seeing improvements trust me, it’s addictive finding more ways to improve (there’s a whole 200 signals Google look for!). Maybe then it will be necessary to hire that Marketing genius to take over.

It's a BugHerd Job Explosion!

BugHerd is a rapidly growing startup based in Melbourne, Australia. We love working with people as passionate about the web as we are. Right now we're looking for a UX and Development roles. Obsessed with developing Javascript applications the right way? Love designing scalable web applications? Live and breath UX?  Read on.

Why us

Passion: We believe passion is contagious. We all take pride in our work, work together on creative solutions and constantly learn new stuff.

Impact: Our software is used by thousands of companies worldwide. Being a small team anything you contribute will have a huge impact.

Flexibility: We don't have fixed work hours, we believe family comes first (and that pets are family too), we live and breath quality of life and know that working hard doesn't get measured in face time.

All roles are based in Melbourne, Australia

UX/Web Designer

BugHerd is looking for a world class product designer to help design the look, feel and functionality of our web and mobile applications. You will be tasked with creating elegant interfaces used by thousands of your industry peers. We strive for simplicity, clarity and an exceptional user experience across all of our products. The right candidate needs to have a strong understanding of user-centered design and a keen aesthetic eye.

Experience with responsive design across multiple devices is highly desirable. You will be expected to prototype concepts, test them with real users and iterate to final designs.

Front End Developer

We are looking for one or more skilled front-end developers to create the new suite of BugHerd applications. You will develop performant, scalable web applications using technologies such as Backbone and React. We pride ourselves on our implementation standards and application stability. We ship fast, but we only ship quality.

Back End Developer

We are looking for a skilled Rails engineer with a proven history of developing scalable, reliable applications and services. You will be developing applications which support thousands of concurrent users and APIs which service millions of requests. We're scaling quickly but need to always provide stability and reliability to our customers.

To apply, send an email to jobs@bugherd.com with relevant portfolio links or resume.

Use BugHerd to get visual feedback on wireframes

One of the most requested BugHerd features we get is the ability to receive customer feedback on wireframes, not just web feedback. Wireframes are really the first point in the design process where you have something tangible to show a customer or client. When you think about it, it's a perfect place to introduce BugHerd. The earlier you start the conversation, the less likely issues will arise later in the process.

This is something we're working on addressing, and you could say that this is a small step, even if we're not the ones doing it! 

Axure RP is a popular wireframe and prototyping tool used by UX professionals and project managers to present wireframes to their clients. It  turns designs into working HTML and javascript that allows you to interact with your mockups in a browser. You can host that HTML yourself or you can use their AxShare system to publish your projects online. If you haven't already joined the dots here, this makes it an obvious fit for BugHerd.

We have a lot of BugHerd users already using Axure for their mockups, so we thought we'd share some simple steps to get BugHerd running on your Axure mockups.

 

Axure Share projects

 

Step 1: In AxureShare, select the design project you'd like to get feedback on

 

AxureShare plugins

 

Step 2: Select "Plugins"

 

Axure Application new plugin

 

Step 3: Click "New Plugin"

 

Edit axure plugin BugHerd

 

Step 4: Add your BugHerd JS script (the same as you'd add to your HTML page)

 

Add Axure to BugHerd Bug Tracker

 

Step 5: Select which pages you'd like to add BugHerd to. Choose ALL and "add to new pages by default" to ensure you can feedback on all your pages.

 

Add BugHerd Bug tracker to Axure

 

Step 6: Start getting feedback on your designs! Too easy!

Featured Client - Bigfish Creative Group

We love finding out about the development processes that our clients’ go through with their teams and clients. Even more so when that process includes the use of BugHerd.

We spoke with Brett Pollett from Bigfish Creative Group about the nitty gritty of utilising BugHerd throughout the development, feedback and QA stages of a web project.


A little about Bigfish:

Bigfish is a brand strategy consultancy and full service ad agency headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. The agency’s clients range from blazing start-ups to flourishing cash cows looking for a fresh approach. Guided by the discipline of sound strategy - big ideas, stunning visuals, innovative campaign plans and game-changing UI/UX are the output of their everyday. Bigfish stays on the leading edge of ever-changing technology. They are true tech geeks who provide their clients with the innovative technologies that best optimize their business objectives.

Tell us about the development process and how BugHerd fits into that?

When we discovered BugHerd, we were close to completing a website and felt like it was going to be the perfect tool to get through the final client review. To be honest the first project we used BugHerd on we were actually really nervous. This client was particularly difficult to deal with during revision and creative review processes. 

We were all incredibly apprehensive about what would happen when it reached the Dev phase and how we would tackle feedback and client reviews of milestones. If it could handle this client, it could handle anything. Long story short, it was a huge success and no one could believe how smooth the final stage of development and handoff went! 

We realised we could go even further with it internally than just between Account Directors and Developers, as a final QA before sending it to the client to get their feedback. Now we use it during the initial development phase, where we send invites to the Designers for the project so they can give feedback and make sure that the Developers on the project met their intentions with the design. Then the developer working on the project will send me a note to check out the project in BugHerd as a technical double-check. Then we send to the Account Directors, who then end up sending the guest invites to the client. BugHerd has become an integral part of our development process.

 

 

You mention you “discovered” BugHerd, tell us more?

We do something we call "Inspire Sessions" every couple weeks at Bigfish where everyone in the company gathers for an hour or so and people bring links to anything they've seen lately, industry related or not, that inspired them in some way and we all share them with each other. I happened to come across the BugHerd website a couple days before an Inspire Session and was so excited after watching the promotional video on the site that I knew I had to share it with the team. We have been customers since June 2013.

What’s the number one reason you’re hooked?

It absolutely has to be how easy it is! I mean, just to know that there is this tool that requires little to no coaching with a client that lets them give real-time and easy to understand feedback is amazing enough. The fact that it's also completely intuitive and easy for Developers and Account Directors to both setup and use too really puts BugHerd on a whole new level. I can't imagine ever developing a project again without it. 

What do you think we can improve on?

We also appreciate the ability to have a direct line of communication with the BugHerd team. We use this product every day, but obviously as Developers we also can't help but analyze it as well :)

  • It would be great if in addition to the Project Domains you could still set Project URLs for what gets sent to the client. BugHerd note - This has recently been fixed, let us know your feedback?
  • It would be great if when leaving a comment there would be a checkbox that would only show that feedback to users with accounts or have the option to hide it from guests. BugHerd note - This is in the pipeline to be added. :)
  • It could be cool if when leaving feedback the user could select a category for the feedback, such as Copy, Design, Functionality, etc. And then these could be color coded, both in the pins on the screen and in the admin area. BugHerd note - Tags are also getting an overhaul which may make this more easily digestible for clients/managers.
  • Kind of tying into the first suggestion about Project URLs, it would be nice to have a little more Project organization like being able to have Child Projects under a main Project. An example folder structure may look something like Core Project (Client) > Child Project (Campaign) > GrandChild Project (Specific Deliverable). BugHerd note - We’ve discussed this one and are considering it as an option.
THANK YOU! This is an amazing product you have created. We can’t imagine ever developing a project again without it
— Brett Pollett - Bigfish Creative Group

Video Case study - Web project management

Client testimonial from Lucy Lloyd - Digital Project Manager and Co-founder of Mentorloop


Lucy has been a client of BugHerd for more than two years. After being introduced to BugHerd by a front-end developer in her team, she has used it for collection of client feedback and issue management on every web project since. 

 

Client testimonial - Visual bug tracking and client feedback on web projects. 

Emails: Cost you time and your client money.

We’ve been scratching our heads, to work out a way to quantify the cost of email communication...


In a BugHerd survey on customer service sent out late last year,  83% of respondents stated that email was the preferred way of communicating. This was for both collecting client feedback and sending outbound communication. 

Perhaps you’re a freelance web designer or an agency with a client on retainer for “X” amount of hours. According to a readers poll of more than 4.400 reader in the webdesign area on tutsplus, the majority of web designers charge around $50 per hour. There is a fair bit of discussion in the comments about how to calculate web design charges, it’s interesting reading the varied opinions.

This example hinges on charging per hour rather than per project, there is a pretty good (albeit old) post on web designer depot that covers both options but for the sake of this case study we’re going with per hour.

You’ve mocked up a web-page and sent it to your client on the staging site and are expecting feedback. If we digress back to the survey, remember that although many designers do use tools such as Trello, BugHerd, Pivotal Tracker and web forms, most selected emails and face to face as the preferred method of feedback collection.

 

You get an email!

 

Even if you get an email back with a nice and orderly spreadsheet of things to change and perhaps (if you’re lucky) an annotated screenshot of the site, it’s still an email which still needs a reply. The chances are some clarification will be required, which results in another email back, resulting in another reply ... sigh.

Let’s allocate 40 minutes to read, digest and respond to the initial feedback email and 20 minutes to each “just one small change” email thereafter. Let us know if you disagree, but even for 5-6 emails back and forth, that’s 2 hours and 20 minutes or $116 already on emails alone!

 

Wow... that escalated quickly.

Wow... that escalated quickly.

This only scrapes the surface of the client feedback rounds for the build. It’s staggering to think of how many emails occur before and after this point. 

We’re sure that the time you spend emailing clients is already being accounted and billed for and we realise calculating the actual cost is far more elegant than what is above. However, is there a certain leeway of toing and froing that you’ll put up with to keep a project within budget and hours or for the sake of relationship management? If this is the case, these emails are costing you time and the client money.

If you haven’t done so already, perhaps it’s time to invest in a tool that helps to reduce miscommunication and frustration, lowers the number of emails and time spent going back and forth and saves the client money. This is certainly one way to help get approval for the cost of a monthly subscription. 

 

Tell us your feature requests on UserVoice.

We're all about happy customers...

Do you have a suggestion for feature updates or enhancements to BugHerd? Is there a way we can deliver more value for you and your clients or team?

Can we tweak the way you log bug reports or are you just curious to know what's in the pipeline for development.

Head to our UserVoice page to let us know your thoughts and find out more.

 

New Feature - Pause your account.

Love using BugHerd but can't afford to keep us when things are quiet?


We understand that for some of the smaller-sized teams and individual freelancers out there, it's natural for workloads to go up and down throughout the year.

Previously, if there was a time for a few weeks or longer that you didn't require BugHerd, there was a decision to make: continue to pay the full price for a service you aren't using, or cancel your account completely and come back later to start all over again, including losing precious data. 

We often get requests asking if it's possible to "pause" an account in light of this issue. So we fixed it.

If you foresee a time where you may not need BugHerd, but will again in future, for just USD$5.00 a month, we'll pause your account and hang on to your account details so you can return to it whenever you need to! You can find this selection in the subscriptions page:

 

pause.jpg

 

It's as easy as that. When you're ready to get started again, just log-in, pick your Plan and start bug reporting where you left off!

Featured Client - Evolution 7

This month's featured client is a long standing BugHerd customer who have been incredibly helpful to us when we want to sense check new features and enhancements and always provide us with excellent client feedback.


Evolution 7

Evolution 7 is a full service digital agency based in Melbourne, with a proven track record and over 10 years in operation.  Every day, their team of talented people create awesome experiences across a variety of platforms and applications, connecting users to brands across the digital landscape. Every project brings a unique story, and they specialise in bespoke and customised solutions that meet users’ needs. Evolution 7 deliver expertise across design & UX, development, and digital strategy.

With clients ranging from well-known Australian corporates and international brands to non-profit organisations, boutique consultancies and startups they partner with clients in a closely collaborative model, and build relationships for mutual success, delivering solid results and return on investment.

Mack Nevill talks about how Evolution 7 and BugHerd... 

Why do you use BugHerd?

It trumps all the other options we’ve tried to manage the flow of tasks across team members when putting the final polish to a project, particularly for frontend and UX-related work. The ability to quickly and accurately report bugs and assign to a team member for action makes for an efficient process as well as reducing ambiguity about what needs to be done. 

Bugherd has also provided our clients with an easy way to provide feedback, even if they are not shared within the Bugherd project. This has meant that there are fewer barriers between our team and the multiple contact points within our clients organisation. Feedback can be pinpointed to the exact issue on the page, which means we no longer waste time trying to resolve issues by deciphering screenshots and ambiguous client emails.

What do you rate about BugHerd?

We tried various other bug tracking tools however they often have more complex interfaces and are built more for a more technical audience. We love -

  • The ability to isolate an issue or bug to a very specific location on a page in a single click - no more long-winded and detailed directions to a developer about where to look!
  • Drop-in javascript solution makes it easy to deploy to staging or live environments
  • A great task-board interface that makes it easy for everyone on a project to see what’s already been reported and identify what each person needs to action.
  • Tags allow for the categorisation of tasks and a quick overview on what needs to be done  

Any improvements you'd like us to consider?  

  • Customisable labels for columns so we can tweak workflow to our liking :)
  • Would be great if the task cards showed who had reported the issue

BugHerd note: Both of these improvements are in progress and are slated for completion with a bunch of other enhancements in 2014... stay tuned.

Want to be a Featured Client?

We're always keen to find out how you use our product and we're more than happy to give you a shout out on our blog. As always we take into account any of the improvements you suggest as they help BugHerd continue to stay your preferred bug tracker and client feedback tool. Give us a shout on twitter @bugherd or email at support@bugherd.com to have a chat.

Meet Dan - BugHerd Account Manager

We'd like to extend a warm welcome to our newest team member Dan!

In his role of BugHerd "Account Manager" (we were hoping he'd go with Customer Service Evangelist or Senior Happiness Hero) we're sure that the majority of our customers will be lucky enough to chat with him. 

So we thought it best to get some dirt on him, forewarned is forearmed yes?

 

How long have you been in the biz?

I've been working various Support style roles for about 13 years now ...

Wow, you know I never actually really paid attention to how long I've been doing this for until now. I'm actually pretty impressed! I've spent that time "collecting" various dot coms of various sizes - eBay, Yahoo, Seek, 99Designs, Realestate.com.au and a lot of others. I think I've been pretty fortunate in the experiences that I've managed to gather up in that time.

Why did you want to come and work with BugHerd?

I've always enjoyed the "start-up" environment, and having known Alan before I started, I already knew a bit about BugHerd and all the great things the team was achieving, so I knew that I wanted to be a part of it!

What is your role within BugHerd?

I'm slowly starting to take over everything customer-related.

I get to talk to people who are thinking about using BugHerd and tell them how great it is, as well as learn from the people who use BugHerd and find ways that we can help improve the product for them and help them to achieve their goals.

Are BugHerd clients very different to others you’ve managed?

Well for starters, they're all a hell of a lot smarter than I am!

A lot of our customers are also start-ups and small companies, so I feel like we're all on the same page, business-wise. It's this great yin-yang feeling that we succeed by helping our customers succeed, and vice-versa!

What’s the biggest difference for you between corporate and startup land?

I think it's accountability and trust.

When you're in a large corporate environment, it's easy to feel like a tiny cog in a huge machine, but then you come and join a start-up, and suddenly everything you do is so public and noticeable, and you're put in charge of a lot of really important decisions - it's a little terrifying sometimes, but also it's amazingly satisfying. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to do what I want accomplish!

Would you have any advice for those looking to switch from corporate to startup or visa versa?

I think adaptability is important.

I've made the switch a few times back and forth and I think you just need to be confident about applying your skills and making sure that your voice is heard. Regardless of which direction you're switching to, you've clearly been hired for a reason! Don't be afraid to shake things up!

Grand plans for the company?

I'm not sure what kind of bug-reporting software the team in charge of Mars Rover are using?

Forget about "working from home" being a job perk, I wanna work from Mars! NASA, you know how to reach me!

What is your favourite industry site to surf?

I'm a big fan of Mashable, or Mumbrella for the local content. KISSmetrics blog is constantly a source of ideas and inspiration. And when I'm in need of a good laugh, ClientsFromHell fills that requirement perfectly - anyone that's worked at a design agency will both laugh and cringe at the familiarity.

If you weren't doing this job what would you be doing?

I'd definitely be hanging out all day every day with Lucy, my 12 month old Ridgeback puppy. Then probably getting yelled at by my wife because playing with Lucy isn't helping us pay off the mortgage!

A Bug Tracker for Facebook apps

BugHerd isn't just a visual bug tracker for websites. Did you know it can also be used during the development and QA process of a Facebook app? 

Here's how to get started:

 

1. Setup a BugHerd account

Head to our sign-up page and register for a 14 day free trial.

 

2. Define your project

Next login to your BugHerd account and a project will be created for you to get you started. You just need to provide a project name and URL.

 

 

3. Insert some javascript into your app

In your new project click 'get widget' to view it's javascript snippet. Simply insert this after the <head>tag in your app. You'll find more info on installing the javascript here.

 

 

4. Start collecting bug reports

That's it. Now you and anyone you invite to your project will see BugHerd whenever they visit your app on Facebook. Click the little '+' button in the sidebar on the right to report a new bug.

If you've used BugHerd on your Facebook app projects we'd love to hear from you! Email us at support@bugherd.com or send us a tweet @bugherd.

 

Visual Bug Tracker

How important is customer service?

Surely we’d all agree that good customer service can lead to happier customers? So what processes and interactions get a company to that holy grail of creating happy, engaged and profitable customer relationships?

We took a moment to survey our own clients about their customer service processes, to see if there are any common trends in how companies interact with customers, their customer processes and how customer satisfaction is measured. There were some surprising results.

57% of respondents were from companies with under 10 employees, 25% had under 50 employees and 18% rounded out the rest with more than 50 employees. Ranging from startups, web, software and design agencies, not for profits, marketing, branding and creative agencies, IT and digital media firms and e-commerce types the breadth of respondents represented a healthy sample of the web and tech industries.

 

Do you have a team dedicated to customer service?

 

 

All companies asked about customer service

 

When it came to customer service more than 42% of all companies surveyed did not have a dedicated customer service resource. This increased when looking at only the smaller companies with more than 57% having no customer service resource.

 

Small companies surveyed about customer service teams

 

 

Does your company have a complaints process and how quickly do you respond to customer feedback?

 

When queried about customer complaints processes, more than 55% of all respondents regardless of company size stated that their company did not have any complaints process. This number increased to more than 66% in small companies. 

 

Complaints process

 

An overwhelming 81% of all respondents stated they respond to customer feedback within 1-3 business days. It is possible that due to question wording, respondents weren’t considering complaints entirely within the realm of feedback, however, it was interesting to note response rates are so high when customer complaints processes and customer service team resources are so low. Small companies with simply may not have the need to implement such processes or may lack the dollars or resources to do so.

Onto the tools …

 

Do you use an application to interact with customers and collect feedback and do you also use any of these methods to interact with and collect customer feedback?

 

Whilst it was nice to see BugHerd featured heavily, the most used tool for collecting customer feedback is face-to-face, followed by email and web forms.

 

Customer feedback tools

 

An interesting takeaway was that as company size grew skype funding was funneled into usability testing. There could be a measure of scale applied between to these tools, being that one-to-one communication doesn’t scale hence the need for more scalable communication methods. Though interestingly, face to face feedback did rate higher in larger companies, where email was more popular in the smaller ones. Tools such as Zendek and Pivotal Tracker were marginally more of a choice for the big guys whilst BugHerd and Basecamp differed little between company size. 

It is clear that though there are a plethora of tools out there, personal interactions are still favoured over utilising an application for collecting customer feedback. Based on discussions with our own clients, though there are many reasons why, often it is easier to use such tools with clients as they require little to no training to use them and they can assist in developing a better customer relationship.

 This theme carried on in response to customer satisfaction …

 

Do you measure customer satisfaction? If so, what are your customer satisfaction indicators?

 

An open-ended response question, answers were of course varied. A commonality amongst many who do not utilise a particular tool was that they listen to customer feedback and base customer satisfaction on the knowledge of their client relationship.

Of the tools listed, surveys were the highest featured measure with personal interactions such as pen and paper and direct responses also included. Tools such as BugHerd, Google Analytics, forms and net promoter score were also mentioned. 

One response that summed up many of the responses nicely was from one agency that said “It’s the vibe.” Though it’s not exactly a science it’s clear that customer satisfaction is often a measure of personal interaction and customer relationship management. 

 

How do you communicate upgrades and new features to your customers?

 

Though the survey touched more on incoming communication we found it interesting to see how companies communicated to their customers. Once again personal interactions reigned supreme with personal email scoring 83% of tools used vs. only 17% for e-newsletter

Social Media, company blogs and website were represented far higher in larger companies, where they each featured at 44% of tools used to communicate. These tools were represented far lower in small companies with only 26% communicating on their website and even less on blogs or social media.

 

Communications tools

 

It’s very clear that personal interactions with customers are favoured higher than any other regardless of company size and there doesn’t seem to be any tool out there (that we know of) that beats good old face to face or personal email. Measuring customer satisfaction doesn’t appear to be a top priority for many. though most companies do have access to tools to do so or are already using ones that could be repurposed.

Though it seems unlikely that there will ever be a tool to completely replace face-to-face customer service, it is still a manual process that requires data to be input at some level lest the information be wasted. It also potentially lacks the ability to scale at a larger level. However large or small the company, customer feedback and issues need to be documented to improve communications, products and services. 

Therein lies the need to have issue and client relationship management systems to take the best advantage of our customer feedback, why else would we bother using tools to collect the feedback in the first place? Having good customer service processes can give a company the opportunity to show customers some love and as mentioned right from the start, surely that can only lead to happier customers?

 

However large or small the company, customer feedback and issues still need to be documented to help improve communications, products and services.

VIDEO - BugHerd, a visual bug tracker.

Meet Alan and Matt, the co-founders of BugHerd.

Of the many things they are good at, one is their explanation of our product. They can explain BugHerd in such an effortless and effective way, better than any copy on a webpage or email can do justice to.

So why not create a video of their musings? Directly and in their own words, completely unscripted and basically on the spot. No pressure guys ... and much to our amusement.

Who knew they had such charismatic on-screen presences? Talent bookings not accepted ;) however we'd love to know what you think! 

 

 

By the way, Alan is the one with the ginger in his beard and Matt is the one who looks like he has giant hands... you can follow them on twitter @alandownie and @mmilo.

The switch to Cloud 66

cloud66_logo_big.png

It’s not very often that we at BugHerd will recommend a service or product. We may tweet, but we’ve never gone to the lengths of writing a blog post about it. We’re making an exception for a startup called Cloud 66.

Cloud 66 provides a straightforward interface for configuring servers, very similar to services such as Heroku. The big difference is that it’s all done with your choice of hosting provider and it currently supports Ruby frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, Sinatra and Padrino. Cloud 66 nails provisioning and deploying Rails apps. It  leaves the hosting to your choice of several world class providers and gives you the flexibility to configure a cloud solution that suits your needs whilst still getting the full benefit of a managed deployment solution.

For the 3 years prior to using Cloud 66 we were on Heroku. Just to be clear, this isn’t a Heroku bash. Heroku have been awesome for us, especially in the early days. Their service has literally revolutionized startups, and if it weren’t for them BugHerd would never have been seen by our first customers. Their support for pre-revenue startups in particular, is something that should absolutely be praised.

The problem for us was one of scale and unfortunately as a Rails shop, Heroku didn’t scale the way we wanted it to. There have been plenty of blogs on the topic, but suffice to say that we got to a point as a business where it was time to take more control of our servers.

We started off down the track of managing our own deployment and provisioning, but it meant one of our devs was essentially becoming a sysop, and that wasn’t something he wanted in his job description. We hunted high and low for something better than a DIY solution before eventually tripping over Cloud 66.

About three weeks later we were up and running on Rackspace. This process was definitely simplified thanks to Cloud 66. Our hosting bill has reduced by a third and we now have measurably better performance (in fact we’re probably overdoing it).

Cloud 66 provisions our servers, sets up Rails (or Postgres for our database server), configures our security, installs BugHerd on them, adds those servers to our load balancers and brings them online all with the click of a button. It means we spend more time developing, and less time configuring boxes. It also means we can add and remove servers as required, release updates to our application without being offline, and can scale individual servers to suit demand.

Cloud 66 is incredibly powerful and configurable but doesn’t sacrifice ease of use; something that clearly comes from their ability to focus on the one problem. With Heroku you have no option but use their hosting offering, so now we can choose from several different providers (Rackspace, Joylent, AWS or even our own servers!), we have much finer control over things like load balancers, databases, caching and importantly how much RAM we have in each server. When you’re with Heroku, you offload these responsibilities to them (which can be great), but it means you’re stuck with their choices. Not all apps have the same requirements, therefore the standard configuration may not always be the best for you.

If you’re like us and love the benefits of a service like Heroku, but find yourself frustrated by the lack of control over certain aspects of hosting, Cloud 66 is certainly worth investigating. 

It’d be remiss to not mention some of the downsides, as it’s not entirely without its frustrations. Due to the nature of Cloud 66’s serial deployment process, we’d love to see the speed of deployment improving as they do take longer than we’d like. There’s limited control over scheduled/cron tasks, and the Rails console is a bit of a pain to get to. But really… we’re being pretty picky here!

But, in addition to being cheap and on our choice of host - server setup is fast (the default options are sensible and work first time), we can automatically deploy from a commit hook, we have easy access to environment variables, security settings, SSL certificates and most importantly support and documentation is absolutely first class. 

If you want to know more about Cloud 66, head over to their website and check out the documentation.

Guest invitation improvements

The way guests are invited to your project has been improved!

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 12.06.02 pm.png

Guests are users on your project who can log bugs but are restricted in that they can only see and comment on the bugs they logged themselves; they don't have access to anything else in the project, most importantly they cannot see the task board.

To add guests to your projects, all you need to do is enter their email addresses to get started. You can choose to have BugHerd send an invite immediately, or provide them with a private link manually if preferred.

The new guest invitation screen

The new guest invitation screen

 

The improvements we made today are around how the guests are invited. As you may know there are two methods of showing the sidebar on your site: using browser extensions or embedding into your site manually. Before, only the manual embed option was supported but now you can also invite them when you are using browser extensions.

 

The warning that will be shown at the top of your guests screen if we could not determine whether you have embedded BugHerd on your site. In this case, be sure to tell your guests about the browser extensions.

The warning that will be shown at the top of your guests screen if we could not determine whether you have embedded BugHerd on your site. In this case, be sure to tell your guests about the browser extensions.

 

We have made telling guests about the browser extensions as easy as possible. We've made this handy shareable page:

 

 

What do guests see when they click the invitation link? They will be redirected to your feedback URL. We've made this now much easier to configure. On your guests screen you will see exactly where your guests will end up:

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 11.51.10 am.png

 

We have also added a feature which you can use if you do not wish to use our email invites. We allow you to copy the guest invite link and that way you can distribute it any way you like to the guest, whether you'd like to email them personally using Skype or other methods. If you do use our email option, another thing has been improved: resending the invite allows you to review your personal message before it goes out.

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 12.18.58 pm.png

And last but not least, often requested was the ability to see if a guest used the link and when they last used it. Some guests just don't seem to find any bugs on your site, but you would like to know if they actually clicked your link and checked it out. Look for whether it says "accepted" just below their email address.

Two features make a long awaited return

Late last year the largest project we had on BugHerd had less than 1000 tasks, and few users had more than 10 projects. Now it's common to have customers with dozens of projects, some with well over 5000 tasks. Not only has this meant we've had a lot of scale problems (many of which we've blogged about before), it has also meant the feature requirements for BugHerd have changed.

For those of you who have been with BugHerd for more than a year or so, you'll recognise these two features I'm about to tell you about. Both were once part of BugHerd and are have made a triumphant return! 

New Improved Search

One of the major features to take a hit during our performance improvements earlier this year was our super powerful search bar. For a short while we moved to a simple text based search via the server.  Unfortunately, whilst it was far more performant, it was also not nearly as powerful

So we went back to the drawing board and rebuilt our search tool from the ground up to be more super dooper powerful than ever!

task search.png

Some of the highlights are:

  • more responsive.
  • search by assignee (or unassigned!), creator, url, id, severity etc.
  • searches can be bookmarked and shared.
  • history buttons can be used to move through previous searches.

We think it's a serious step up from before, so we welcome your feedback!

Account Dashboard

Once upon a time we had simple but effective list of projects with a pretty little graph to show which projects have had activity. In the interest of simplifying the BugHerd workflow, we removed it and made the top menus the main access point to projects and accounts. At the time we removed it, it really was overkill for 99% of our users.

Today, however, we're seeing more and more customers with multiple accounts and teams and with dozens of projects to manage! The current menu system just doesn't cut it for these people.

project management dashboard.png

When you first log in, you'll now be taken to a list of your projects ordered by recent activity. At a glance you can see which projects have had new tasks created, which are getting stuff done and which are no longer active. 

Over time we'll be adding a lot more information to this page in order for it to become a helpful overview of your account's happenings. Once again, your feedback is welcome as we flesh this out over time!

Feel free to email or give us a shout on Twitter @bugherd

Featured Client - twenty4

We've noticed that we have an incredible community of BugHerders that are always eager to offer each other support with technical questions, general product info and sharing the love. So we've decided to create a space for our clients to share insight on how they use the product and why... and who doesn't love a cheeky shout-out?

Introducing twenty4

twenty4 is a digital agency based in Melbourne and Sydney with the aim to help clients grow their business using digital technologies. Working across digital strategy, web development, eCommerce, SEO, social media and mobile twenty4 use strategy, design and technology to implement a well crafted process and approach that gives their clients a distinct advantage. twenty4 has been working as an agency for 14 years and service a range of clients in Australia and the US. 

Matt Gillman answers our questions... 

Why do you use BugHerd?

We've been using BugHerd for about a year now. For most of our projects, we first use BugHerd internally with the team and then give our clients access to pass across their final feedback on the site. 

We use BugHerd as a tool to manage revisions that need to be made on our websites. Our typical workflow involves a project manager logging changes, updates and revisions for our developers to tackle. We also get our clients set up on BugHerd so they can easily let us know of changes the wish to see on the site. BugHerd is great because it allows us to document the changes with lots of detail and in-page, which we find much easier than written documents or emails with no real link to the problem.

What do you rate about BugHerd?

BugHerd rocks. We love that BugHerd makes feedback contextual, clear, and manageable across teams. We also find that clients easily grasp the tool and really appreciate being able to log bugs rather than try to explain everything in words.   

Any improvements you'd like us to consider? 

We’ve got a few ideas - 

  • When the user is logging a bug, there is no option to add an attachment. So if we need to add a file or a screenshot to help with the bug, we have to log it on the site, then go to the bugherd interface and add the attachment from there. It would be awesome to just be able to add it straight from the website without that extra step. 
  • The comment box is a fixed size – there is no option to drag it out or use a scroll bar, so it’s kind of tough to add in a comment that has a bit of length to it. 
  • Pretty minor, but in the ‘Projects’ drop down list, it’s not super intuitive that you can scroll through the list. Possibly a larger dropdown or a fixed scroll bar would be handy.

BugHerd note: You'll be glad to know that we're onto each and every one of these points. The bug entry box is scheduled for a rebuild in the coming months as well as the details panel. Third item is done... :)

Any big projects you're excited to share?

We’re pretty excited about our recent launch of the new website for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament (UNRCPD). For this build, we constructed a unique system in the WordPress backend so the client would have over-the-top control of all content across the site. Using Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) as the foundation, our system allows the editor to simply add content types to each page, enabling many types of page layouts. We also took every opportunity to build an accessible site that alleviates common barriers experienced by people with different abilities. The new build is responsive and also features a twitter feed, calendar of events and image galleries.