Chronicles of Summer Startup Accelerator Experience, Insights, and Projects

Posts tagged ‘design’

Day 11: WordPress just got complex

After a total of 11 days of 4 hour intensive courses I can say I have the “fundamentals” of HTML and CSS. This is only the beginning of the journey.

Today we focused on adjusting things such as changing the layout and format of pages versus posts, which are  fundamentally different. For example a page might serve a different function that someone simply reading a single blog post. This is where you begin abstracting WordPress as a simple content manager and the “blog” becomes a website. Every page begins to get its own skin and personality and your home page is the most distinct of all with navigation becoming the focus.

All in all it was productive. I got REALLY stuck when the FTP messed up. Basically when I saved my local copy and transferred them over to the server, it didn’t update my template. I eventually hacked a half-ass solution by deleting the theme and then reinstalling it each time to update. Thus far it’s worked out splendidly, but I do need to get to the core to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future with other web pages I create.

Tomorrow is our last day with Chris, but thank the lord I have his email. I’ll give him a quick disclaimer: I will bother the hell out of you when I cannot google, stackoverflow, the answer. You’ll get the occasional dumb question with a copy of code. I will kindly ask you to debug =).

It’s been great having you as our front-end web development teacher and I couldn’t have asked for someone more friendly and welcoming into the programming environment. I look forward to going deeper into the rabbits hole.


Craft Coffee presentation – Better than expected, but under my par of excellence.

Overall we winged the presentation. I wish there had been a lot more depth and thoughtful insight put into all of our suggestions. After the presentation I immediately went straight to reviewing “The McKinsey Way”. I couldn’t believe how far I strayed from the problem solving methodology. Because of this, I will be sending Craft Coffee some personal notes and tactical recommendations and samples of implementations of these so they can move forward. I want to see a direct impact from one of our recommendations. Perhaps a small change in messaging that ups conversion by 10% would mean the world to me!  I just hate that we had about 10 off the cuff recommendations that didn’t have enough facts to back them up. We didn’t really clearly understand what the key drivers of Craft Coffee growth was. Regardless, I will thank them for giving us this opportunity.


Other daily stuff: Just finished errands, prepped for a busy Tuesday, and read another 50 pages of Lean Startup. I should be finished in the next 2 days or so in preparation for the NYC Lean Startup Machine Workshop.

Additionally, I visited the Strand bookstore and took a pictures of a list of books worth looking into. I found HUGE 8 POUND business encyclopedia aptly named, “Business: The Ultimate Resource”. This is going on my list for sure.

At the end of the day I ended up buying “Exposing the Magic of Design” by Jon Kolko, whose writing has fascinated me for the past few months. Not to mention I bought a ticket for the Design Extravaganza he’s hosting in Austin in October.


Day 5: Grid Based Design & Typography + Craft Coffee

As we move forward with more and more projects, class has become a little less dynamic. We spend a lot of time in class working now versus learning new things. As Chris mentioned earlier today, this is the point where you begin to see some people start to excel and other lag behind. I know I need to focus on organizing my code and making sure I focus on the separating the uses of HTML for structure and CSS for style. Additionally, this means making sure I note everything while I code, and open and close accordingly. I think this will come with time, but today Chris got confused looking at my code…not a good sign. On a brighter note, Chris has been super helpful and hands-on when it comes to debugging our code or explaining things individually.Starting with some templates he gave us which included separation of header, body, footer, etc. helps a ton. Not to mention understanding how to use tags.

Unfortunately, we’ve either gotten behind or strayed away from the proposed curriculum. This may be for our own sake, or we are just slower than we should be. I’m hoping it’s simply to make it more personal. I actually wish we could go a little faster because I do want to learn Grid-based design, typography, and navigation in relation to UI design for websites. That’s the subject that really fascinates me, but I appreciate slowing down the pace to begin mastering the basics of what we’ve learned. If I remember anything from years of martial arts, it’s that the basics (main 20%), will give you 80% of the desired results.

Today we worked with FileZilla which is a free FTP client. After the ordeal of buying a domain name and hosting, we finally uploaded some of our work. Check out my Hans Zimmer page. Super basic, but glad to have something to show for the first time in a long time.


Craft Coffee – Giving you fantastic, new coffee experiences

Today we met with Mike, Angie, and two interns. Mike gave us his history as well as how Craft Coffee came about. He openly answered more detailed questions I had about building out the backend and the relationship.

4 Key Messages:

  1. DO NOT start a company without an idea that has been festering and slowly but surely been in your head for a while. It needs to be something you really care about and make the extra effort to do with or without pay. For Mike, he was already keeping his eyes peeled on the entire coffee industry. When you talk to people and they think you’re insane…then you’re ready.
  2. Take notes wherever you go…especially about people’s complaints and bitching. You could start an entire series of companies based on a few people bitching and moaning.
  3. Act on insights – Craft Coffee pivoted after understanding users wanted:
  • Convenience – which came in the form of a subscription
  • Guidance – Craft Coffee curates what goes in the box
  • Tactile – People wanted to see, taste, touch, and smell the coffee beforehand, which is where coffee samples came about

        4.   TEST, TEST, TEST

  • His conversion rate tests were exactly on point when they finally did an official launch. This was great for planning and lowered risk for future investors.
Mike gave us a very important project to work on this week and I’m very excited to get working on it. I know that this is the sort of stuff that needs to get done in any startup. Not to mention I’ve been wanting to do some UX research!
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