I have been going to BarCamp every year since I moved to town in 2010 – I always meet new people, see interesting friends, and leave with a long list of ideas.

This year’s BarCamp was one of the most diverse events I’ve been to in a while.  I met students, professors, parents, teenagers, executives, creatives, job seekers, hiring managers, entrepreneurs, Nashville natives and recent transplants – women and men of all ages and colors.

Here are a few of my takeaways from BarCamp 2015:

  • Alan Laidlaw – one of the most thoughtful product strategy minds in our community – led an interesting discussion about the future of the internet.
  • Data scientist Pete Mancini (@nectarineimp) convinced us – using the principles of Game Theory – that hostile aliens are probably planning to attack the earth.
  • I learned about the HTC Vive Experience downtown – I lost a game of rock-paper-scissors to my husband and he got to go, but we might not have known about this amazing opportunity otherwise.
  • I got personalized coaching on my elevator pitch – in front of an entire group of people. It sounds like a nightmare, but presenter Carolyn German made it powerful, and very instructive.
  • I met lots of people who recently moved to town. Nashville’s reputation as an IT-city has blessed us with some great talent.

Thanks to Edwin, Chuck, and the amazing crew that works to make BarCamp such a great event for our city.  I’m excited to see what’s next.

Imagine this scenario:

You buy a brand new, shiny Toyota Camry. You love your Camry. It’s practical, it’s clean, it gets pretty decent miles per gallon, and it was affordable.

After you’ve been driving your smart, affordable and stylish Camry around for a while, you start to notice more and more campers. “What the heck”, you think? “Why are there so many campers driving around every day? Am I missing something here? Why are there fewer and fewer Camrys on the road these days?”

One day it hits you.

Everyone now drives a camper, and you are driving an old, out of date Camry.

You decide that you too, must get a camper. But you don’t want to pony up and spend the money on a brand new camper. “What if I can have my Camry converted into a camper? That makes a lot of sense!”, you think to yourself. “My Camry is practical, clean, stylish, and only a year or two old. Surely someone can turn this thing into a camper for a fraction of the price of a new one.”

You take your Camry to a mechanic to have it converted to a camper.

The mechanic tells you something like this:

“Well, in order to convert this Camry over, we’re going to have to remove the frame, create a new frame, cut the body up and weld new pieces on to it. Then we will have to make sure the frame fits with the modified body. If that works, then we need to make sure this thing can keep in traffic. If it keeps up in traffic, we then need to make sure it’s safe to drive.”

After 2 weeks of waiting, your mechanic calls.

“I’m not sure we can make this happen for you. And it’s going to take a long time, and it’s going to be expensive. It honestly would be much cheaper and reliable for you to go to the camper store and buy a brand new camper.”

Does this sound familiar?

Maybe you have a website that was built before the web moved to the mobile world. Now you need your site to be responsive. You’ve also heard that Google is going to lower your site in search results if you are not responsive, and this scares you. You know that you need a responsive site as soon as possible. Your business depends on it.

We get it, and we get this question a lot.

Unfortunately, there’s no good way to do this without a full rebuild. Websites these days use what we call “front-end frameworks”. These are a fully thought out set of elements, grid structures, and styles that allow a site to repurpose itself depending on how big the screen is that is loading the site.

There’s no real way to shove one of these frameworks into an already existing site. Just like the differences between a Camry and a camper, a responsive front-end framework and a non responsive site are two completely different things.

If you want to move into the mobile web, you’re going to have to do it once, and do it right. This involves a complete site rebuild. I know this is not what you want to hear, but in the long run, this will cost you less, make your site more “future-proof”, and it will perform exponentially better for your users.

At the end of the day, speed, security and a pleasing experience for your users should be your main goal. If you are in this situation, plan ahead. Get the capital together to do this right. Your users, employees and bank account will thank you.

We love building responsive stuff. It’s something we are passionate about. We have iPhone fans, and Android fans here at Centresource. When we are not fighting each other with torches and pitchforks over which platform is better, we all agree that the future of the internet is on mobile devices. This won’t change anytime soon.

Do it once and do it right.

Disclaimer: I in no way endorse the purchase of a Toyota Camry. Do yourself a favor and buy something that is actually fun to drive, such as a Subaru WRX, Volkswagen GTI, or a Lamborghini Gallardo. You can thank me later.

Also, Android is better 🙂

We are very excited to announce that we recently won three 2015 W3 Awards! The W3 Awards recognize creative excellence on the web, honoring outstanding websites, web marketing, web video, social content, and mobile sites and applications. These awards are sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, a body consisting of top-tier professionals from acclaimed interactive, advertising, marketing and media firms.

Of the over 4,800 entries, only 10% were selected as gold winners, with other outstanding entries receiving silver accolades. We were awarded gold honors for our web work with The Seed Company, as well as silver honors for our work with both Christ College and Your Leadership Edge. Congratulations to our teams who worked on these projects and to all of the other outstanding project winners!

We’re living in a digital gold rush and everybody feels like a prospector. With fantasies of great fortune being born from a great idea, there is an overwhelming push to get something to market as quickly as possible… before somebody else beats you to it. This breakneck speed leads to poor business decisions, far too many assumptions and a marketplace riddled with products have no discernible usability.

Planning

Here at Centresource, we start any product build by guiding our clients through a variety of exercises to help us to identify the product’s viability and essential feature set.

Ideal Customer Profile: Never assume that your product idea is so wonderful it will appeal everyone. If you do not focus your product towards a particular audience group, you will serve no one. Our ideal customer profile exercise helps you identify not only your most important primary audience member, but also your earliest adopters, and those who will be the most positive advocates for your product. Any product has the chance to grow into a universally appealing item, but we urge everyone to start specific, selective and smart.

Product or Service Profile: It’s important to know what your product does, but it’s just as important to remember what your product does not do. Keeping focused on the most essential function or service your product provides allows you to move to market as safely and smartly as possible. Again, you will always have the opportunity to scale and pivot as user needs dictate.

Positioning: This exercise asks the simple question: Why should your ideal customer care about your product? The process of answering this question helps you unlock the emotional angle of your product, as well as uncovering an end user’s potential objections to buying or converting. Figuring out how to help your end users overcome these objections — whether it’s through marketing, pricing, or functionality — gets you much closer to the key messaging around your product.

We consider these three exercises to be integral in the starting ideation and identification of your product. They help identify what your potential market share may be, as well as your projected financial gains and losses once you move into being a full-time product owner.

Prototyping

An incredibly powerful mid step for any product building is prototyping. If you are a lean startup, chances are you are going to need capital investment to really get your product off the ground and into production. An illustrative and impactful way to prove potential market share is through a fully designed prototype. A prototype not only allows you to demonstrate the potential points of sale within the product, but also identifies how an investor can make their money back with your product.

Building a prototype also offers a great opportunity to start unpacking feature sets and functionality the product could potentially have without writing any code. By addressing overarching design and user workflows in such an immersive way, we’re able to fully flesh out a concept for a product and help you understand how much it will potentially cost to build – which is essential as you go out and try to raise capital.

Prototypes also offer an incredible tool for user testing, allowing us to send your product out to an anonymous, objective, and qualified group of users. These users help us understand what assumptions we’re making about the behavioral usage as well as the actual need for this product.

Production

By this point, you’ve gone through product identification, including market share potential, conversion rate, and financial modeling. You’ve built and demoed your prototype for proof of concept and to gain investment, and you’ve sent it through user testing to test assumptions and gain objective feedback. The last step is to start the build, and it can feel like the biggest, scariest step in the world.

Keep in mind, however, that the collective purpose of the preceding steps is to refine and distill your product to be as successful as possible. Remember, we recommend you start with a specific, selective and smart product. With that in mind, we like to orient our development around the individual features of your product — this allows you to see and understand the life cycle of your product in an iterative way. Phase I of your product will not have every bell and whistle you imagined, but it will have be enough for you to go to market as wisely as you can.