“Pre-Production” is the new “Post-Production”

There is a singular, terrifying truth that every software developer, application architect, product designer, and stake-holder must eventually embrace. Even if you build the coolest, most useful product in the world, there is a good chance that nobody will use it.

This simple truth evokes dark feelings of inadequacy within the souls of executives and and renders project managers, marketers, and developers useless. It doesn’t matter if your application is robust, scalable, or beautifully designed, you won’t know whether your audience will embrace it until you’ve actually presented it to them.

The problem here is a “known unknown” related to design. Although developers can load test an application to ensure it scales and performs, there hasn’t really been an easy way to test design except in a production environment. Focus groups are about as accurate as licking your thumb and searching for wind direction, and UI/UX consultants can give you beauty, but they can’t guarantee success. So how do you test your user experience before actually presenting your app to users? One of our colleagues wondered the same thing and came up with a pretty nifty solution.

Introducing Apptourage, an easy, cheap way to optimize usability in pre-production. Instead of spending four months developing the perfect app/ERP/CRM/tool, spending tons of cash marketing your new product, and then waiting for useability data to come in, you can upload the user experience and have it tested either by your team or Apptourage’s US-based testers. Easy peasy – Needless to say, we’re big fans of their new tool and recommend it to all of our clients. Check it out here.

Disclaimer: Yes, we have become friendly with the Apptourage crew; but, it’s mostly because we earnestly believe in the product they’ve created.

 

Amazon and Google tap into Home Service Market

The Home Service industry has estimated to be generating somewhere between $400 to $800 billion annually. Because of the lucrative nature of such vocational work including, but certainty not limited to – plumbers, electricians, arborists, ETC – many smaller start-ups have found an outlet to nuzzle their way into the market by creating and offering an online, third party platform – connecting customers to services. There hasn’t been much competition in this market, apart from Angie’s list – the 20 year subscription service that vets local services for customer review and purchase. However, recently Google, having acquired most of the online advertising market since the internet’s inception, and Amazon, owning more of the transactionary market than any other online provider, have both seen opportunities in capitalizing on this type of service and are now cashing in on their resources, perhaps plowing over all the smaller third-parties that came before them in the meantime.

The initial idea for creating a vetted Home Service platform was to bring high tech to low tech – bringing the efficiencies and transparency of the internet to the, at times, convoluted world of Home Services. Keeping services local, not contracting outside the remote area of where the customer lived to keep the money in the community. As most of us know, however, this is nearly impossible to do if there is a third-party involved, being that most third-parties, especially those that exist on the internet, are only able to profit by extending their network outside of localized areas. Nonetheless, they do keep your services local, taking a small cut from the final transaction for the connection they made. But what is happening now is, the little guys are getting their “science project ideas” stolen from them for the big guys to get to benefit and receive the fame. As Google and Amazon steal adopt the Home Service market for themselves, the smaller companies either have to converge into the larger companies, or move out, because lets face it, these two would hands-down win in a consumer loyalty competition. Thumbtack what? Pro.com maybe? Angie’s list? Okay I have heard of it a bit. But Amazon and Google? They are a mainstay, where consumers feel safe, secure and at home..

Initially, Google financed other Home Service platforms, financially backing them while profiting from their advertisements. However, as Google attempts to now utilized their advertisement ubiquity in the more consumer-based transactionary world, it is drawing out of their investments in the smaller companies while in incubation mode on their own google-fied version of a service offering platform. Whether or not google is intending to expand their dystopia utopia by buying into the marketplace of “vetting service providers”, or simply attempting to get their “hands-in-more-pots” by providing another option for loyal Google users, it is hard to say. But it is clear that the temperatures are rising as the competition begins to heat up. With increased competition comes more of an innovative push for creative endeavors and alternative options. For example, Angie’s List recently released an app that not only connects customers with services but now allows the potential customer to take pictures of their defective appliance in the effort to find the most appropriate specialist.

Amazon’s initiative to jump on the “Home Services’ bandwagon has been a bit more expected, being the company already offers an online store that helps customers find, buy and begin using software; providing an additional service to connect their customers to specialists in their area seemed like a pretty natural transition for a company that is attempting to take over the virtual world. Amazon is attempting to tap into the market a bit differently than it’s competition. While Google is pulling out of it’s investment with Thumbtack, Amazon is continuing to keep it’s investments with various smaller businesses. It seems to be wanting to have its hands in as companies as it can, not in an altruistic way but more in an attempt to stay in as much control of the market as possible.

Either way, this is an emerging lucrative outlet and the bigger players don’t just want “in”, their grandeur nature wants it all – even the garnish!

While Amazon customers have been waiting for the online store to fill-in the gap of the Home Service needs, and therefore expected to happen pretty rapidly as the company already has an online offering, Google on the other hand, will be slower with their transition. As it starts to transition away from being simply a conduit for other companies and into a newer realm of engaging directly with customers through transactions, Google will begin to have a facelift. It has already made strides to compete with Amazon via “Google express” marketplace, however, it still needs to work on advertising itself as a online store, as it begins to tiptoe it’s way to the retail side of things.

Amazon has the consumer-based market, while Google reins over advertising. If the two could merge and join forces, they would make an insurmountable team, giving all the startups a run for their money. However, contention is where growth and innovation prevail for these two companies and therefore, they will inevitable work independently.

As we start to see these third-party Home Service platforms pop-up, 90% of which will eventually be split between Amazon and Google, many of the companies that provide the specialists may have to cut their prices in the effort to stay competitive amongst the other specialists in their field that the third parties also advertise. Therefore, perhaps more money will be funneled into the mega-corporations and less given directly to the actual workers who provides the services, keeping the middle class caged in the middle class – and the hierarchy prevails. Let us just stop and consider for a moment what it actually entails to get a plumber, an electrician, or a construction worker yourself? An internet scan, a conversation with a neighbor, or perhaps the yellow pages (do they still make phone books anymore)? Either way it doesn’t require much. If we continue to expect there to be a service for everything – in this case, a service for a service – I believe there will be detrimental outcomes. Historically, laziness has gotten entire populations in immense amounts of trouble. And history repeats itself.

 

Silicon Valley’s On Going Existential Gender Dynamics Crises: Ellen Pao vs Kleiner

It is a bit of a “he-said she-said game” in the Ellen Pao case against Venture Capital Firm Kleiner – Silicon Valley’s most recent gender discrimination case. Silicon Valley, over the past decade, has become notorious for it’s patriarchal corporate culture, a place where women are constantly at odds with it’s male dominance. The Valley has become analogous to a fraternity scene, but for grown men. A culture where the movement for egalitarianism and the push for moving women out on the “second class citizen” in corporate cultures has perhaps been an agenda placed on the back burner.

Ellen Pao, a previous partner of Kleiner, had sued the V.C. Firm under allegations of unprofessional gender dynamics in the work environment. Her attorney argued that although Pao had many successful efforts in the firm, including investments with RPX – the patent company – along with twitter investments, she had little-to-no traction for upward mobility, hitting a lower than normal “glass ceiling”. Although Pao’s case shines light, once again, on how women are still minorities in Silicon Valley, faced with blatant discrimination due to a product of the culture’s lake of exposure to gender diversity, the Venture Capital firm, in the end, was cleared by a California Jury for all claims brought against it. Even claims that involved more personal matter of Pao being terminated from her position at the firm – thought to be a result of a retaliation against Pao for her suing the firm in 2012 – was also cleared.

Although there was no major triumph for Ellen Pao personally, there is some pay off. With the more gender inequality cases brought out of the wood-work in the V. C culture, perhaps there will be a larger, more sustainable push for equality and integrity within Silicon Valley corporate world.

Unfortunately, the scene got a little messy for Pao’s case when the jurors brought up the affair Pao had with former Kleiner partner, Ajit Nazre. Pao claimed Nazre used business trips as opportune courting situations, arguing that she was more of a victim of his habits than a romanic interest. Whether or not it was appropriate for her to get involved with a married business partner who she was told had already separated from his wife, is news for the tabloids. I believe the coverage on this case is most important in the fact that it is not the first, and most likely will not be the last given the culture’s history. Therefore, it is a symbolic slap in the face for the Silicon Valley to wake up and get their act together when it comes to gender dynamics. Or perhaps I live in a fantasy world believing everyone to be educated about gender politics, human rights and to have read Simone’s de Beauvoir’s 1949 book “The Second Sex”. But no, in fact I’d be lying to myself if I said I truly believed this was reality.

 

Kayleigh Stack

Tech Blogger and Marketing Assistant

Don’t make it Happn

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the lack of privacy we are facing this days. Today I came across a blog post that that talks about a new dating app, and it made me so furious that I may just get a casting call to be in the next Vin Diesel movie (I’m a fast driver by nature).

Don’t worry, I’m not turning this into a three-page essay, I would just like to say that there is an app out there called Happn that you should never use. Why? I’m so glad you asked!

 This is a dating app. Basically it’s Tinder, but it shows you profiles of people that “you cross paths with”. Let me give you an example to make things a bit clearer. You are at the supermarket and see a person you like. You now have 3 choices:

 

1- You do absolutely nothing (most opted choice in history).

2- You talk to that person.

3- You use your stalker app.

 

If the other person has the app, you can let them know you like them. You can track every-time you cross paths with them (when and where). Creepy right? It is essential simply an excellent stalker tool.

What you may not realize, especially if you use the app, is you are being stalked by the app itself. This app has to constantly run in order to track others, therefore, it is always tracking….you. Where you go and when you were there. I would assume all your daily habits are being tracked and probably used to sell things tailored to you that you probably don’t want or need. I’m sure the peeps at Google maps are very jealous of Happn.

 

I’m just going to print my life schedule (including bathroom breaks) and staple it to every light post in SF. This way you guys know where I am 24-7.

If you have no love for your own privacy, at least have some love for your phone. The poor bastard has to run this app in the background all day long.


See you guys (along with everyone else that runs this app) around!

Federico Pisani.

Tech Blogger.

 

Note: This is only my opinion since I have never used the app nor have any intentions of doing so (I prefer to stalk people the old-fashion way, with binoculars).

 

Is Texting Contributing to a Bidialectical Culture?

When reflecting on the history of literacy and its advancements, one might reference poetry, koans, or sonnets – Rumi, Shakespeare, maybe Sinclair Lewis or Ernest Hemingway – all of which had a distinguished nature to their writing, making it less a form of dry, solemn communication and more of an art of high resonate notes. Their writing was often a vehicle to discuss ethics in politics, societal morals, or human’s idiosyncratic nature. Most literary laureates are given great praise over their ability to use language as an artist would use a paintbrush – masterfully coloring in the world with their gifted narration abilities, one pen stroke at a time.

Individuals who consider such literary accomplishments as major advancements to the written word and furthering our communication style, may scoff at the way the current generation is utilizing – or not utilizing – writing in text messages, seeing it as a form of abuse. Some may even consider the shorthand, so often found in text messages– such as LOL, JK, & NVM – as degrading the artistry of language, giving children bad habits, and making it difficult for them to have intellectually rich and verbose conversations with their peers. However, most of the distrust circulating around the texting culture are people opinionating, with their hypotheses not really grounded in any sound research, just mere speculation, and perhaps a pitch of nostalgia for the past.

In a recent TEDtalk on communication, linguist John McWhorter discussed a less popular angle of texting and its effects on literacy, debunking the very premise of texting being damaging to the written language. Rather than creating a generation of subpar writers, he believes that it is actually helping people become better communicators, as it serves a similar function in the brain to that of a second language. Texting is now being seen as a new form of second language – with all its shorthand, slang and brevity- making it difficult to understand for those individuals who are unfamiliar to the nuances of the code. Studies have shown that people who are bilingual are cognitively nimbler, quicker, and even able to resolve conflicts better. Therefore, if texting is now seen to have similar advantages to that of being bilingual, then our generation might just be experiencing, as McWhorter mentioned “a linguistic miracle”.

McWhorter discussed that through texting we have mastered ways of communicating empathy with the challenge of not physically seeing a person’s body language or facial features. The LOL or LMAO texters are generally not literally “Laughing Out Loud”. Rather the LOL conveys resonances, showing how one relates to the other, just as someone who has a face-to-face conversation may demonstrate this emotion through locked eyes or a cocked head. We are now using additional methods to convey our physical reaction and body language through emoji, written slang and acronyms.

Remember, in the history of humanity, the written word, compared to the spoken word, has been around for a minuscule amount of time. Therefore, perhaps every ounce of development we have contributed to written language is expanding our written repertoire, whether high-brow or not. From this lens, no slang or alternative dialect can ever be degrading the english lexicon, rather it makes it even more meatier, subtly advancing our culture, one LOL at a time.

So go ahead “Text up” and be apart of the growing bidialectical generation of english speakers, pigeon, ebonics, shorthand, and LOLers.

Herd-Mentality: Sheep as Wifi Hotspots

Just the other day, on NPR I was listening to some local business owners in North Carolina’s rural area complain about their internet connection. They discussed the prolonged amount of time it takes to upload a small video and how this disconnect directly effects their business’s sales. The community, bringing this issue to the attention of their local phone company, requested for more cell towers to be built. The sentiment was that a faster broad-band would equate to more economically thriving businesses, and further, be contributing to increased financial stability in the community. Some of the store owners lamented on how difficult it was to stay competitive in the market when their web presence was inferior to those of their competitors, due to a challenge that is, for the most part, out of their hands.

No Wifi No Business…..

Since it is nearly impossible these days to have a business without a website, limited internet access does in fact have a direct correlation to a business’s success, and a business’s success does relate to a community’s economic health. More and more remote, small town stores have found ways to survive in communities with limited resources with the help of internet sales. However, with a lack of attention placed on rural areas without fast broadband- which phone companies often justify by arguing that most rural towns don’t have a large enough demographic for more cell towers to be viable- small town businesses are suffering.  I question if the phone companies invested anytime into contemplating how the demographic may (or may not) be directly related to the lack of connectivity, at least in this day-and-age. Wouldn’t more cell towers and increased broadband, give rise to population, clearing up the initial problems that prevented the building of such technology in the first place? I guess in this case, they find it important for the chicken to be in place before the egg.

Can Sheep provide Wifi?

But wait! There may be a solution! It seems the lack of connectivity is being solved in rural areas. In fact, without tampering with the natural landscape, there are plans in place to utilize the exact environment and species that already exist. And I am not talking about those ridiculous fake trees that have been erected on highways, which by the way, look like a cell tower had intentional decided to wear a tree costume because it was getting a little bashful about its’ slender figure. No, none of that. I’m referring to animals. More specifically, sheep! It seems as though rural North Carolina was not the only community commiserating about broadband issues. Research seems to have been underway for some time to find a solution for those still living in an antiqued time-capsule. And low-and-behold the answer had been right underneath their (cough) fork the entire time! What better way to increase connectivity than to create far reaching, and roaming, WiFi Hotspots with other members on the community. And even better, community members that so often go unnoticed- yes I am still talking about sheep.

Digital Smart Collars

At Lancaster University, researchers have recently been granted $260,000 to test digital “Smart” Collars (why does everything have to be “smart”?) on sheep! And not only will these sheep have the fastest connection, but with the smart collar rings attached to their ears, they look like a furry version of Mr. T! But all jokes aside, the initial purpose of these “smart” collars was to simply track the sheep’s whereabouts, along with the weather conditions. However, recently researchers have discovered the collars could provide an secondary purpose -bringing WiFi hotspots to rural areas. A “mesh network” can be created by a herd of sheep, transmitting connectivity across expansive distances. There has even been interest in bringing this technology to nomadic communities in Scandinavia

So far the research is still in its infancy stages. However, if it does end up coming into fruition, the community in North Caroline might have other things to worry about. Overly connected cheep? Bionic Ram invasion? One can only hope.

Source:

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wi-fi-connected-sheep-badgers-help-8630010

 

By Kayleigh Stack

Blogger & Researcher

Privacy Concerns, The Increase in “Smart” Tech & The Irony

In one of our last posts ( written by the lovely Kayleigh Stack ) we talked about Samsung Smart TVs and the privacy they lack when speaking in front of them ( their voice command feature constantly listens whether the TV is on or not ). Having a company listening to what you say 24-7 is horrible, but this issue doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s much worse than what most people know, or at least are willing to know. No, I don’t wear a hat made out of foil paper and no, I’m not talking about crazy government conspiracies. I’m simply speaking of all the companies that constantly keep an eye on you, that you might not even notice anymore.

Sure, showing a picture of how awesome your meal is, while you are on vacation is of great importance. And I certainly appreciate all the check-ins to let me know where you are at all times. Let us not forget about all those lovely selfies, tweets and Facebook posts that keep me inform about your entire life, minute-by-minute. Unfortunately, like I already mentioned, it doesn’t end there. It seems that, knowing who the picture is, ( I’m talking about the very creepy and scary face recognition feature ) is not enough.

Smart Tech

Nowadays, you walk into your house and your very slick Nest thermostat knows you are there. Your TV listens to every word you say, and your “Smart” bed ( yes those actually exist, and I’m not sure why you need a bed to be “Smart” ) is informed of all your sleeping (and perhaps, none-sleeping) habits. Oh but please wait, because there is more…

For the very small price of $199, you can buy your  your own personal Big Brother show. And guess who’s the main star of the show? That is right- you! You can buy cameras to stream HD footage of everything happening in your house, to any computer, phone or tablet.

Have we lost a sense of privacy?

So where do we stop? Have we simply lost a sense of privacy? Think about this: If you have a kid today, by the time your kid is 20, Facebook will probably know more about your son, or daughter, than you. The problem is not in only what they know, but what they do with what they know. Once again, no crazy conspiracy theories here, seeing that all this information collection is currently used for the purpose of… wait for it… selling you stuff.

If you are like me, dyslexic, sort of ADD, and with little interest for most material things, you probably never pay attention to web advertisement.  However, surprisingly, quite often, an ad will catch my attention. Needless to say, whatever it may be on the ad, it is always tailored to my interests. Witchcraft you say? Perhaps voodoo, or black magic? That’s what I used to think. Turns out, they are just using all that information they have about me, that supposedly I  “willingly” give up, to position ads ever-so-appropriately on the webpages I browse. Funny how we all keep a secondary email account to use when we don’t want to give our email out, yet we dump our entire life’s story into the hands of those evil genius advertisers. Oh the sweet taste of irony!

I can only help to think that maybe, and just maybe, it is time to become more conscious about this subject. Now if you excuse me, I need to go tell Facebook what’s in my mind…

Fede Pisani

Tech Blogger

RFID chips: Getting Chipped or Jibbed?

There has been a growing amount of RFID (radio frequency identification) chips used in the past decade, specifically in healthcare, academic institutions, and domestic animals. The push for these tiny glass grain-sized chips has been to, in theory, add to the ever growing era of convenience. They are advertised as providing efficiency, track-ability, along with practicality to peoples lives. The use of chips have claimed to track lost pets, prevent truancy in high schools, as well as help to avoid identity theft and security issues in healthcare. However, I can’t help to question that, along with the supposed claim of preventing identity theft, there is the undeniable question of privacy issues. Our privacy concerns are continuing to be challenged as companies and clubs are now not only “chipping” objects but also their employees and club members.

By attaching radio frequency tags to both people and objects, inevitably the debate of ethics comes into conversation. How much do we want others- whether others means our loved ones, employers, or government- knowing our location at all times? Moreover, how much do we want personally sensitive information made more readily available? And by personally sensitive information, we are talking about the things beyond your SSN- the things you think no one knows or sees. Truman show? Mind control? 1984? Dare I bring up Stalin and Hitler? Yes these are conspiracies, however, one question continues to present itself- just how far off are we from such methods of control?

Reasons for using RFID Chips

The Healthcare industry is claiming that RFID chips are resulting in better patient care, to be able to correctly identify patients faster and improve safety. Seems pretty innocuous. The improving safety part is more ambiguous because the sites where I was doing research did not disclose exactly how the chip would be improving safety, however they claimed, unequivocally, it does. Fine, I thought, improving safety I suppose seems harmless enough. However, I did become more suspicious upon discovering that these chips are now being used by a Swedish company on their employees -rather, in their employees- purely for convenience reasons. Those reasons include -opening doors, unlocking photocopiers, and paying for lunch.

Are grain-sized microchips really making our life any better?

The drive for convenience in our culture may be at the expense of independence, at the expense of rational, smart, informed choices. Does the future consist of us voluntarily (remember: people are doing these things voluntarily at the moment- perhaps with little forethought) relinquishing ourselves all personal responsibility of health, safely, and free speech for that of efficiency? Hasn’t the causation of cancers been inextricably linked to different forms of technology? At the end of the day is injecting a grain-sized microchip under the skin in order to wave a hand to open a door really easier than just taking a card or key out of your pocket and twisting your wrist in a similar fashion? Okay, so maybe you’ll shave a few seconds off with chip, and it could be argued that time is our only real resource, however, the next question that comes to mind is what are the long-term repercussions and are we truly saving time or are we adversely affecting our bodies and independence, in exchange for, cough, laziness?

I believe, and yes this is extremely subjective on my end, the worst use of these chips have been found to be utilized among club members in Barcelona. Where, due to many of the members ambling about in bikinis and trunks, there was a decision made by the club owner to offer VIP members a chance to do away with cumbersome bags and wallets and get a RFID chip implanted in their arm to enhance their sumptuous lifestyles.

Micro Chips are Intuitive?

One company is advertising the use of the hand chip as “Intuitive”. I would consider an injection of a human programmed, laboratory built, inorganic material anything but inborn, innate or natural- far from intuitive. Is this going to change the course of evolution? Are we shifting away from survival of the fittest, to survival by design? While the Swedish company implementing these chips on their employees at the moment claim they are doing so to get some foresight into the future to see how chips work, before governments and big corporations adopt them for use mandating all citizens to wear them, at the moment to only be using this technology to open doors and use photocopiers, in my eyes, is hazardously using powerful instruments as superfluous tech candy.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31042477

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3697940.stm

 

Kayleigh Stack

Blogger, Marketing Assistant & Research Associate

Who is doing the Watching?

We are living in a world, these days, that allow many companies and services, who participate in some form of data collection, to get more “bang for their buck”. In most of history, consent was imperative due to the very blatant fact that companies had to hire or notify their informants directly, in person or through surveys. The collected data was then used as a general idea for how a certain social demographic operated, relaying that information to advertisers. Nowadays, whether voluntarily or not, information is constantly gathered from the everyday choices we make online, which is easily, and cheaply, gathered and sold, no bulky surveys or drawn out interviews necessary. Even better, this information is more targeted! Rather than a general summary of a demographic, the advertisers can pitch a product directly to a specific user, like we often see on Facebook.

Smart TVs and Consent

The truth is, consent is still very much apart of every company’s business model, however, with the advent of the internet and the minute-by-minute advancement of technology, consent is hidden in the manifesto known as “the terms of agreement” tucked way between politics and disclaimers, which we inevitably skim through with little reading in effort to use the service or product.

And well, if that doesn’t satisfy, than perhaps we should be sticking to a good old fashion 12 inch screen with a VCR, or better yet, a book.”

The issue of data collection, privacy and security is constantly coming up as technology advances. Due to the recent release of a voice activation feature on the Samsung Smart TV, owners are bringing up an ethical concern of “who is doing the watching?” Orwellian references have been circulated throughout social media inevitably. In response to this international concern, Samsung has made a statement saying the voice activation feature is manually operated by the user to deactivate. It the effort to be as transparent as possibly, the company also mentioned that upon purchasing the product their policy readily discloses that all information is shared with a third party. The third party being- Nuance.com -a company Samsung works with to provide speech-to-text conversion to deliver customer demands. Unlike Facebook and other social media companies, Samsung also claims they are not selling or retaining customer’s information to advertising companies.

Privacy Issues and Tech Gadgets

So what are the most critical takeaways of privacy issues regarding this new gadget? I believe the most important aspect is- this form of technology evolution has been egged on by what our culture thrives on. There is the constant crave for better, faster, more complex tech to make lives cushier, more convenient, and lazier. Therefore, perhaps the finger is being wagged in the wrong direction when it comes to privacy issues. With the Samsung Smart TV, the user has full control over whether or not to use the voice activation device, deactivating it whenever they choose. One can sit on their couch, not use the remote, yell at the big bully of a screen, and then pick up the remote and deactivate the feature to have their privacy back. And well, if that doesn’t satisfy, than perhaps we should be sticking to a good old fashion 12 inch screen with a VCR, or better yet, a book.

 

Kayleigh Stack

Customer Liaison & Research Associate

Pros and Cons of Bigcommerce.com

Everyday more and more businesses are using Bigcommerce.com. As a tech nerd, Start-up owner, and employee at Ruckbau, a technology consulting company, I too have had my Bigcommerce.com adventures. At certain pointsI have found myself frustrated, while at other moments I’ve been pleasantly satisfied. After having a decent amount of experience with this company as a customer, I came up with a list of pros and cons, in hopes to help both the bigcommerce.com expert and novice.

The Cons (because they are always more fun to start with)

1- Nightmare slideshow (However, this may not be the case for every layout).

 When you pick a layout for your online shop, more likely than not it will come with a slideshow. The slideshow consists of a big banner on top of the page with a few images. Given its name, I’m pretty sure it’s function is self-explanatory.

 The slideshow in the layout our customer picked was (not?) responsive. If you are not familiar with this term, I’ll gladly explain. A responsive website is a website that adapts to the sides of the screen, for it to, ideally, look the same on all devices- including phone browser, iPad, or 32” monitor. (Now, if you need a 32” monitor to browse the web, you may have some more serious issues not related to the web at all)

Getting to the point….

The Slideshow on bigcommerce.com stretches all the images when looking at them from a big screen. Unfortunately this didn’t have an easy solution. We had to go in and spend four hours playing with the code to get it to work properly. If you are not an experienced web developer, it seems you’ll have no choice but to live with stretched images.

2-Not easy to tweak layouts (This one concerns both tech savvy and not so tech savvy people).

 If you have some  knowledge of HTML and CSS, and you decide you prefer a different layout design rather than the ones offered, you may encounter some difficulties figuring out how to make those changes.

 The way that bigcommerece.com stacks their code doesn’t make it easy to play with the HTML and CSS. However, with that being said, once you do figure out how, it’s pretty simple.

3-Terrible code stack (if your not a developer, this may not concern you).

 The code stack the website is built on is pretty terrible. If you need to go in and do development, you should be mentally prepared to deal with lots of things you probably don’t want to deal with.

4-Creating a Homepage could be a pain.

 If you are trying to create a landing page that is not going to display products for sale, you will be confronted with some extra work. Although it may not be extremely hard (I found a pretty good tutorial video), your frustration-o-odometer may go through the roof (yes, that is an official measurement).

The Pros

1-Friendly user interface.

 If you use WordPress, Bigcommerce.com should be a breeze. If you don’t, after an hour or two, you’ll feel like a pro (or at least comfortable with it.)

 Their user interface is very friendly, and after playing around for a short time, you should be adapting pretty quickly.

2-Lots of online support.

 There is lots of documentation on their support site. Plus they have an online chat support- offering many people eager and willing to roll up their sleeves to do the dirty work for you (as long as it’s a reasonable request).

3-Lots of layouts to pick from.

 With a good assortment of both free and purchasable layouts, it should be easy to pick one that fits your store’s needs.

4-Google analytics and more.

 You can get Google analytics to track where your customers come from, go to, and all of those other cool things the internet is doing these days. They also offer lots for marketing to help promote your store, gift certificates and more.

5-Free trial.

If you still don’t know if this is the commerce platform you have been looking for, you get a 15 day free trial. I’m not sure if you will see any sales results in that time (and if you do, I want a commission), but that should be more than enough time to figure out whether you like the site or not.

Thank you for taking the time to read! Hopefully this will help you when considering big commerce.

Fede Pisani

Technical Blogger