As part of NJI Media’s development team, I hear this question all the time: “How hard would it be to [do ridiculously hard thing]?”
Usually, though, that question isn’t “How hard would it be to build a countdown to the next US Women’s Soccer Team game in the World Cup by tomorrow?” However, that is what happened last Wednesday when NJI designer Andrew Greeson asked me that question.
Being Megan Rapinoe’s biggest fan (I am wearing her jersey as I write this during my lunch break) I answered, “Andrew, you design this and I will stay up all night building it and so we can launch it tomorrow.”
That’s how NextMatch.Us was born.
The All Nighter
Andrew came up with an awesome, simple, one page site for the purpose of counting down until the next US Women’s Soccer Team game with an About section overlay. He handed me the design at the end of the workday and then, fueled only by the unrealistic desire to have Megan Rapinoe RT my Tweet promoting the site counting down to her next game, I got to work at around 8pm until the following morning.
Most of my night was spent on the countdown clock, styling went pretty fast and social sharing wasn’t too big of a problem. That counter however, took some doing. I will go into all the code for this in a later post and we will put the project up on github (or parts of it) for anyone to grab and take a look at.
I only took a break to watch an episode of Halt and Catch fire (great show) because my ears hurt from having my on ear headphones on for 4 hours straight.
Fail Fast and Iterate Quickly
Whenever I hear people talk about apps or anything relating to technology I always hear things about iterating quickly, creating a minimum viable product (mvp) and failing fast. This makes sense for app development, but that isn’t the bulk of what we do here, we build websites that are planned over long periods of time. Our iterations span over months not days, we aren’t a single product team, but I think there are lessons that can be learned from the app model even in what we do. Building this little side project (the first under the newly invented Shultz Division) gave me a chance to build a mvp and put to practice the philosophy of doing many iterations and failing fast.
Since Friday (when we launched) we have taken feedback from anyone giving it and implemented it into new versions. We also have bigger plans for this site and are laying down the groundwork for it to grow. For example the “Match Facts” drop down wasn’t there on our first iteration, but a friend of mine (who loved the site) suggested it, and we delivered it the next day. We also have modified sharing about 10 times since it’s gone live, and fixed typos throughout. We are currently on version 0.3.2 of NextMatch.US.
Speaking of many iterations and failing quickly. Because the minimum viable product doesn’t require that anything happen when the clock hits zero (at least on Thursday it didn’t matter), currently, a php error happens. So I have around five hours from the writing of this post to change that, and figure out what happens. Also, we are banking on the US Women’s National Team to win this afternoon against Colombia, otherwise we will have to very, very, quickly figure out when their next non-World Cup match is and change all the language on the site (something we were hoping not to have to do until they had won the World Cup).
So, I guess I should get back to work so I can furiously code up all the possible scenarios in which we might find ourselves tonight.