1st helpspot testimonial

Ben Richardson from Switch I.T. the creators of CampaignMonitor wrote up a great testimonial for HelpSpot. They were the 1st official customer, a huge help during the beta, and an important part of the pre-launch marketing for HelpSpot so it really means alot to me that they think so highly of the product.

You can check it out over on the site: Switch I.T. Testimonial

ad supported business apps

Jeff Nolan has an interesting post about Salesforce and perhaps Google offering ad supported business apps for small business. This would seem to be more in Googles court than Salesforces, but it’s an interesting idea. I suppose if you could ensure security and that the content the companies are searching in order to find relevant ads isn’t used in a bad way then this could be a good thing.

help is for experts

More good stuff by Jensen Harris:

“How can this be? I think my biased assumption was that experts know how to use the software already and eager novices would be poring over the documentation trying to learn how to be more effective using it.

Yet, in usability tests we see it again and again: novices and intermediates click around and experiment, experts try to reason things out and look them up in help.”


This is a big reason why I didn’t build “integrated” help into HelpSpot. It’s basically a waste of time. You’re much better of focusing on making your app simpler to use and have an online manual for the power users, administrators, etc.

It’s also why HelpSpot has several somewhat hidden features. There’s things in there which are hidden in plain sight like reminders. It’s a cool feature to be able to setup reminders about a request, but making it too prominent would distract from the learning of the base functionality. It’s OK if users discover that feature 6 months into using HelpSpot, in fact it will be better because they’ll grasp the power of it more than if it was something they tried to fiddle with on day one.

post 10

It’s been brought to my attention (thanks Mike) that my post HelpSpot 1.0 release postings have been …. um …… pretty lame (xbox, Jessica Simpson, etc). So I’m turning over a new leaf right here, right now. Back to business on this blog.

In fact this blog has been in many ways a reflection of my life. After getting 1.0 out I just had to step back. No coding at all until about 2 weeks ago when I got things together for a 1.03 release that just went out last night. It’s funny because even though there was some significant work in there along with testing and so on, it really felt like nothing. When you go from building every new feature from a blank page adding one more setting or fixing a small bug feels like nothing at all.

The post 1.0 world is very very different. Rather than focusing on getting features added and making changes as the ideas flow I’ve found myself being forced to hold back. Especially with a product like HelpSpot I simply can’t be releasing updates once every 2 weeks. First because I don’t want to set that precedent, but also because no IT department in the world is going to install a new upgrade every couple weeks. Instead I’ve got to hold back and release larger releases less often. They’ll still be pretty often in the beginning, but I expect they’ll slow down as the bugs get worked through over the next few months.

Working with customers has been fantastic. Overall I’ve been very happy with HelpSpots performance. Almost all support has been installation support, which is exactly what I had hoped. There’s always trouble with installation, some due to HelpSpot other times just getting PHP setup, IIS, and so on. What I was really worried about though was alot of support because administrative pages aren’t clear, don’t work as expected, etc. Having not gotten many of those type of request gives at least some indication that pages work as the user expects, which is huge to me.

The biggest issues so far have been with Windows/IIS installations. Nothing huge, just little quirks. Some of this is my fault as well since my background is more Apache based so I’m not as familiar with the IIS environment, but I’m learning. I have to reiterate that it was a very good move to decide to support it since I now have many customers using it and I think very few of them would have had the option of switching to another web server.

In an effort to keep up the transparency I’ve tried to have with this blog I’m going to try and get some hard sales numbers up here in a future post. I think it will be useful to future b2b developers. I have to figure out how exactly I want to present things a bit, but I should have something together in a few weeks so stay tuned.

programming language popularity

For those who are interested Tiobe Software has released their list of the most popular programming languages. Note, that I have no idea who these people are but the list is interesting never the less.


Java and C have a commanding lead followed by C++ and PHP just barely below C++. VB is 5 followed by Perl then a big drop. Ruby is 21.

I think the PHP number is very interesting. I’ve had the sense just from my experience since releasing HelpSpot that PHP was really on the rise in the corporate world. I’ve been amazed at how many companies have been willing to install it to try HelpSpot. This seems to lend some factually backbone to my observations.

contextual tv ads

Dave points to TiVo’s ad announcement, whereby they’ll let viewers find ads they are interested in as well as skip over ads they aren’t.

I have to say I was hoping TV ads would go in a different direction. I understand that you’ll never get rid of ads on TV and I’m fine with that. What I really want is contextually relevant ads. The best example of this is Extreme Makeover Home Edition. While the trips to Sears on that show are a little over the top, the rest of the product placements are done pretty well. Show me those great Closet Maid shelves actually in a closet or how nice those new Pella windows are.

Make the product fit the show I’m watching rather than ads almost always being totally irrelevant to the show.

jessica simpson

“so heres what i propose. i propose that you move into my hollywood bachelor pad and be my girlfriend. if you wanna buy a dog you can buy a dog. if you wanna call tuna chicken you can call that shit chicken and you know what i’ll do, i’ll say baby i love you. thats what i’ll say.”

Tony Pierce

This dude cracks me up.

php 51

PHP 5.1 is out and I have to agree with John that it feels rushed. There’s alot of new stuff in there and there seems to be alot of issues still, at least from what I hear. My major concern is that many HelpSpot trial users are PHP newbies installing it for the first time.* That’s always a challenge to begin with and if 5.1 introduces unknown issues on top of it that will of course only make things harder.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing on Sunday while I watch football. (test for HelpSpot capability of course!)

  • On a side note, I think this willingness to jump into PHP just to try HelpSpot really shows how poor the help desk alternatives out there are and hopefully how compelling HelpSpot is.