I did a quick little interview (I'm at the 43 minute mark) with Joe Dexter over at Fantasy CPR Live. My first ever radio interview and while I was nervous, I didn't completely melt down on air so that was a huge plus for us.
Thanks Joe for the interview and it was fun.
So the last 2 weeks have been incredibly hectic. We've had a second write up, we've seen a steady increase in signups, we've launched Season 2 of Benchcoach and we upgraded our servers and are in the process of updating our tour videos to match the new Benchcoach. Now that we have some breathing room, I'd like to catch up a little and let people know what has been going on with Season 2 and why Benchcoach looks and feels so differently.
So last year, we noticed that there were 2 main issues with our application. First off, we called it "Scratchpad", which was functionally what we were trying to do, but wasn't a very catchy name. So we've renamed the core application to be "League Lab" which is not perfect, but is an incremental improvement over "Scratchpad" (You'll see that incremental improvements is the way we do things).
We also noted that many people were confused about all the functionality we crammed into the original Scratchpad
That's a lot of information and not all consumable. Truly the work of 2 engineers cramming everything onto one page. So one thing we wanted to address right off the bat was breaking out the functionality into more consumable chunks.
The second thing we wanted to address was to improve performance. Dragging and dropping a player would result in a significant lag as the roster change was sent to our server, we recalculated the entire league, and then sent the recalculation back to the browser, and then the browser had to render it all again.
We had tinkered with the idea of moving the app to Adobe Flex last year but we wanted our app to work in any browser with out a Flash Plugin.
We now realize that this was a bitter pill that might better serve our users. While you need to have flash installed, YouTube and most video serving sites have made that a necessity so most people would already have Flash installed. Maybe not at work, but hey, in this economy, we probably shouldn't get caught tinkering with our fantasy baseball lineup at work anyways!
The last major thing was to try to improve our product feature wise, software bug reduction wise, and usability wise. Now follow this convoluted logic and we can all reach a happy conclusion.
To make a better product, we believe that we need more feedback. To get more feedback, we need more users. To get more users, we need to stop offering the trial product and open this thing up wide open. We also need to be as quick as possible in responding to our forums and feedback emails (which we try to do but sometimes, we're not as quick as we'd like so apologies). Ipso Factor, Benchcoach is now free. This is not to say that we won't try and create a premium version of Benchcoach that has advanced features, data, graphs but we're a company that's 18 months old and we've done most of the heavy lifting in terms of data, and number crunching and building out the site, so at this point our costs are manageable (if anyone really wants to know how much this site costs to run and how much time/money we spent building it, I'm free for a beer in NYC).
The end result is Benchcoach Season 2.
We've gotten some nice press written up about us (twice by the same guy at CNet!)
And I'll be recording an interview for Fantasy CPR Radio this afternoon.
All in all, I feel good with what we've accomplished this off season but there's tons more work to do so please feel free to email me with feedback, bugs, comments, feature requests at spark at benchcoach dot com.
Have a great 2009 season, (due to the effort expended on getting season 2 of Benchcoach, my fantasy teams will be undergoing a "rebuilding year")
We experienced another spike in traffic today and while we were hoping it was because Benchcoach Season 2 was compelling, we looked at our traffic to determine where our latest surge in traffic was coming from. Once again, CNet has posted another article, called "Your 2009 baseball guide: 30 Sites" and we were #1. Although I believe that was due to the alphabetically nature of the list, it's still nice to be at the top of a list.
We've been looking for a tagline and maybe we can go with
Check out season 2 of Benchcoach. It tops the charts alphabetically.
In any case, thanks again to Don Reisinger and we'd love to get more feedback and user comments on our product and future features.
There are still some rough edges we need to work out. Aside from bugs, we also need to re-do the tour videos again and we need to expand the help section. We're also working on expanding the user projection system so that you can make edits to projections for any player so that the benchcoach projection can better reflect on your opinion on players and we expect to have that out in the next week or so.
Please, send us your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or if you come across any bugs. I know there will be some but hopefully, with your help we can make the fixes quickly and to everyone's satisfaction.
Thanks again and good luck with your 2009 season!