Pivoting a Project

Pivoting a project can be a blessing, or a curse. It's important to know when and when not to pivot to avoid derailing your development cycle.

Segment 1 - Our Pivots

  • When first starting out it’s important to be open to all avenues to you

    • In our case we chose to try to get into the IT and Web Design/Development business from the get go.
    • Although we did have a few IT clients we both seemed to prefer the web development side of the business as time went on.
    • Eventually we landed a larger Web development account and at the same time had an opportunity to take on a medium size IT contract for a medical clinic.
    • This was when we had to decide to go fully into web development or try to keep up both sides. It seemed like if we tried to keep both sides our preferable side would suffer so we chose to Pivot fully into web development
  • Recently we decided on another Pivot
    • Our choices were continuing trying to expand our service industry and get more clients for a steadier income or try to build a audience and get more in touch with the developer community in an attempt to eventually generate a more ‘passive’ income source
    • Of course if you’re listening to this podcast you know the route we chose, as HTML all the Things is our way of connecting with all of you
    • This wasn’t an easy decision as the temptation of more stable income was high. I was engaged at the time (married now) and obviously with that was a little worried to dump a bunch of potential income for a chance at building a community
  • When we didn’t pivot
    • Situations will constantly arise in your life, especially if you are trying to make your own path, that will tempt you to Pivot what you are doing
    • Sometimes you will pivot, and sometimes it’s better to stick to your guns and forge ahead
    • An example a time a we didn’t pivot was when we were coming up with project ideas and after launching our first html5 based game (Click to Riches) we wanted to create more games and almost become a html5 based gaming studio. This sounded really fun and we had a blast making Clicks to Riches but looking at it analytically the competition was extremely high and to generate any sort of consistent profit would have potentially taken years.


Segment 2 - Pivoting a Project

  • Generally when you’re first coming up with a project, you’ll list all the ideas, features, and systems that will be included either at release, or down the road
  • These features should be categorized into various groups, some of the common ones are:
    • MVP - all the vital features that are needed to make the project function/solve the problem it’s out to solve
    • First Updates - Some features that are close-to-vital or easy to implement and will be added to the project soon after release
    • Wishlist - Features that would be “cool” to have in the project, but aren’t vital to it’s core functionality
  • Pivoting a project is not a decision to be taken lightly
  • Whenever you pivot a project’s direction, it almost always adds a bunch more work to the original plan, typically some of those wishlist features are bubbled up to the MVP, or first updates category
  • Pivoting at any stage of a project can have some terrible results:
    • At the beginning - You might end up pivoting before or during the first days of development, which throws off the entire plan and can render any work done so far as completely useless
    • Later on - Pivoting when a bunch of the work is completed can completely disrupt the development procedure and can ultimately derail a development cycle. For example, QA might not be able to test everything they want to because some of the features they were planning to test are now going to be radically changed. In addition, pivoting later into development often can result in added features that will be undercooked in the release, and therefore can produce a less quality product
  • On the flip side, sometimes pivoting can have some great results:
    • Better product that is more fitted to the marketplace
    • More features that were initially thought to be useless, but ended up being vital in some way
    • Matching, or beating, a competitors offering where the original MVP wasn’t capable of doing so
  • Ultimately, pivoting is something that will come up on many projects, but you should be resistant to it
  • Ensure that the reasons for pivoting far outweigh the reasons for keeping the project the way it is
  • There is great value in sticking to a plan because people get familiar with it, and know what to expect. Changing said plan can result in chaos for the development team
  • We slightly pivoted No BS News due to Google Play’s new PWA application system that allows for PWAs to more easily be put onto the Google Play store. As a result of this change, we decided it best to have some offline features and to tie up any lose ends.
  • The benefits of pivoting No BS News in this way are:
    • Better exposure and marketing on Google Play (discovery engine)
    • More functionality will be added that will make it function more like a real app that relies on the internet, but caches some of the data it already has (minor offline functionality)
    • Is going to push us to finish the project
    • We need to learn service workers for some upcoming client work


Segment 3 - Pivotal Paralysis w/ the Jack of all Trades

  • As we’ve mentioned in brief before, it’s often very difficult to stay focused within the tech industry given that there are so many positions and so much crossover between them
  • When you’re running a small business, or a startup, often times you need to wear multiple hats within the company in order to keep it afloat
  • These multiple hats result in experience and exposure to several segments of the tech industry, that provide useful skills, but also provide a bunch of distractions
  • Whenever you have experience in a given area, it’s hard to focus on the one you’re working on.
  • For example - if you’re working on making the UI for an app, and you have Photoshop experience, you may get distracted for an entire day on editing some icons that weren’t in the project’s original schedule. Resulting in a late and possibly rushed UI development
  • Distractions aren’t great for a project’s development, but these distractions can easily evolve into project pivots.
  • If you’re developing an application that focuses on calculations, but you have experience in graphic design, you might be distracted from the original goal of making a simple UI that allows the user to complete calculations. Instead, you might pivot the project such that it has a theming system and a bunch of cool UI elements that look nice, but introduce a bunch of graphical and UI work that will stall out development and isn’t vital to the project
  • Being constantly distracted by things you have knowledge of is a constant plague of the tech industry because so many people have a experience in at least a few segments
  • It’s important to keep to the plan whenever you can to avoid scheduling mishaps, missed deadlines
  • Personally, I find this jack of all trades w/ pivoting issue normally crops up in the earlier parts of a project because everything is still being flushed out and designed. It’s so easy to just flip a wishlist feature into the MVP that before you know it, you have a bloated app that will arrive late and might not be tested as much as you’d like because it had to be rushed to try and meet the deadline
  • Stick to the plan whenever possible, but keep in mind that the plan isn’t written in stone, just really close to it. Make the plan hard to change - pivoting is a blessing and curse

Web News - Community Moderation

  • With the newest ‘Adpocalypse’ happening on YouTube due to all the ‘sexually illicit’ comments appearing on videos with underage kids in them, what does this mean for the future of platforms like YouTube or even the internet
  • From pretty much the beginning of the internet anytime a community has taken off it inevitably has pockets of illegal behavior in it.
  • Usually even thought he community does it’s best or at least something to monitor itself it gets blamed for its members doing something like this
    • In YouTube's case it not only effects YouTube/google but all the creators on it. Most of which have done nothing wrong
  • Community moderation is pretty much impossible without limiting/censoring the community itself and therefore changing the product you are putting forward
    • There are some small examples of good community moderation in my opinion, Reddit did a good job removing all of it’s child exploitation subreddits without destroying it’s community
  • The problem is not all websites or communities are as easily controlled as Reddit’s. And at some point we need to look at the problem as a whole
  • People will always find ways to post terrible/illegal content online. Who is it on to moderate this?
  • Once we go down the rabbit hole of severe moderation what will the internet look like?
  • If we are in the “wild west” of the internet days what civilized days are we approaching?


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