Measuring success: ROSL 79

ROSL79 — Reflections on startup life 79

Measuring Success

This seems to be a bit of a theme from our last week, in particular with the new Group feature which we’ve released as a prototype. Alex and I spent quite a bit of time before we released it discussing what we thought success looked like — how would we know if it was worth pursuing or not?

Why this is interesting is that generally speaking, I can’t remember us doing this too much before. It’s not that we didn’t have a vision for success, but I think it was a lot more “black and white” than it is now, something like “get lots of people using”.

As matures, we’re now starting to have to “niche” our activities more and more, which means we need to be even more careful we are doing the right things. For example, early on, most changes impacted the whole site which mean that everyone was impacted and we could quickly see if that improved our statistics or not.

Now we are building features that apply to smaller segments of our audience (which is very deliberate — we’re trying to target and meet the needs of the most passionate people), but it does mean that macro statistics are not as useful anymore.

This thinking seems to be becoming much more pervasive — we’re now asking this question much more frequently in a range of areas. We’re building a hiring plan; beyond the required skills, how do you measure the success of say, a web designer? Thinking about how we would measure this success is useful in clarifying exactly what we are expecting someone to do in this area.

Sometimes you just have to do

Of course, you can go too far. Ultimately as a startup, we need to keep moving quickly. There’s got to be a balance between making sure we know how to measure that what we’re doing is working, versus spending too much time naval gazing and not enough doing.

The flip side of all this is that I also find that releasing new features generally tends to reinvigorate us and help clarify really quickly what’s worth keeping and what’s not. Sometimes it’s not what you expect. For example, the new group feature has helped clarify thoughts for me on what the timeline feature needs to look like — that’s not really a measurement thing, but having seen and touched the group in action, now I know what the friends timeline feature is missing for me.


  • New group prototype released.
  • A number of really nasty bugs in the processing pipeline addressed.

Lessons Learnt

  • The two weeks in the Valley really was exhausting — I think both Alex and I were very flat last week and both took most of this weekend off to recover which is unusual.

Goal this week

  • With the group feature released, monitor how it works and promote it to the SEO community while catching up on an increasingly long backlog of “small” things that need to be addressed.