Little Update #8

Well, the #uklockdown is sort of over? depending on where you live, who you live with and what day of the week it is.. COVID is still a major issue and will be for a fairly long time but THAT isn’t going to stop our irregular news updates!

Little Updates

Project Stardust part one is now officially complete! Every check in the system has now been updated with a new layout and more advanced configuration!

This part took the longest and was left till last since it involved rewriting our Content Extraction system.

We’ve rebuilt it so now you not only get alerted on changes but you can get alerted when specific things change, numbers go up (or down), regex check and much more, this change alone makes LW a MUCH more powerful tool.

We’ve also rebuilt our GEO-Redirect system to turn it into a wizard (not that one) which is much less confusing than the original one I designed (we are always learning!)

What’s Next?

The excitment begins as we start to focus on the next most requested and ‘I can’t believe you didn’t build this before’ feature – Individual Team Logins!

The days of sharing the LW password around the office will soon be gone once this feature goes live, I KNOW it’s taken a while and I KNOW you want it now but it’s a fairly big rewrite permissions wise in the backend so I’ll keep you up to date!

Family Updates

Last week, we managed to escape to Germany for a few days and enjoy the fun of Phantasialand (I know not Disney, you’re shocked aren’t you)

Scarlett was not happy about being interupted from iPad time for a photo

We had a lovely time and it was good to get a break for a few days and now we are back to it!

Next Family Trip?

Possibly Disneyland Paris in September for what would have been Run Weekend but who knows these days!

LittleShoutOut

This is where we try and highlight something every week that we didn’t create in the hope it gets some attention from other people (and they aren’t a usually a client so THIS ISN’T A PAID LINK JOHN..

It feels like during the lockdown everyone BUT us was creating a podcast. Andi started one and it’s pretty good, you should listen to it.

That’s a wrap!

Thanks

Real Dom, Heather, Scarlett and of course, Robot Dom

Do you have a process for your client domain names?

Recently Google made headlines for not renewing blogspot.in; not only does this break thousands of links across the internet, it’s also pretty embarrassing for the company!

Now losing this domain isn’t the end of the world for Google – blogspot.in is just one of the many GEO domains they use for Blogspot and if they want it back they have deep pockets to buy it.

However, they don’t have a trademark for the term Blogspot (that we could find in the UK or US database) so they have no automatic rights to the domain name, making the process of acquiring the domain back a one-to-one transaction.

And this is big business! There are companies setup to mass monitor expiring domain names and ‘dropcatch’ them for buyers based on ‘how good the name is’ or ‘how many inbound links it has’

It isn’t just Google that has been caught with it’s site down:

  • A few weeks ago, the UK Government forgot to renew a Help to Buy domain name which was mentioned hundreds of times across documentation, this was instantly snapped-up and sold at auction for £40,000 
  • In 2018, Clydesdale Bank had to go to court against a cybersquatter to get control of an expired domain. Although they won the domain back, it cost months of time and hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees
  • In 2017, Marketo, a company worth over a billion dollars made headlines by forgetting to renew it’s domain name

We could go on with examples from Microsoft, Foursquare, Microsoft (again?), The Dallas Cowboys and Microsoft (and again) but we won’t.

The point is, if it can happen to these big brands with hundreds of employees, a massive tech budget and internal system, it can happen to anyone, let’s be honest, domain names are boring and tedious, nobody WANTS to be responsible for them so usually it’s passed to a reluctant team to manage who already have a LOT on. 

Sometimes when we speak to agencies about this, they will respond with ‘we are not responsible for the client domain name’ and that is completely true in a lot of cases. You might be in charge of content or PPC or technical SEO… but how are you going to do that if the domain has expired?

But forget about the client for a second, what’s in it for you? Imagine how valuable you’ll look to the client if you catch these things before they do.

(here is the sales plug warning folks) 


For the sake of just 10 minutes set-up and £30 a month, you can turn a potentially disastrous news story about your client’s domain expiring on your watch into a ‘heads-up, just checking you’re aware’ email that makes you look like a proactive agency that goes beyond your remit.

Little Update #7

Normally we start the updates with a fun story or joke but instead we must begin with our support for Black Lives Matter both publically & financially.

We support you and we hope everyone stays as safe as possible.

Little Updates

Project Stardust is full steam ahead with Nameservers, MX Records, URL response, www. redirect and https redirect all having the new modal and advanced features!

We’ve updated our Slack integration to be more friendly and have better explaiations of what’s going on.. it was a little bit Robotic.. which is fine for Robot Dom but not for normal users.

We’ve rebuilt our Edit Multiple checks dialog so that you can enable and disable checks across all URLs easily.. this is part one of the update (the next one will allow you to manage the individual elements of that check

And whilst it’s a strange thing to talk about, we’ve made it easier to cancel your Little Warden account, from day one at Little Warden we’ve wanted to produce software that adds value to your day, if you feel it isn’t then we shouldn’t put up barriers for you to cancel (although we’d love some feedback)

What’s Next?

The final parts of Project Stardust (and some of the most difficult) are Geodirects and our custom content checks.

These advanced bits of functionaility are at the moment, a pain in the arse to use and so we’ve gone back to the drawing back with the UX, userflow and backend code.

Family Updates

Our Christmas light project is going full steam ahead! This week we 3D printed some Daisies for Scarlett to put lights in for her bedroom

We’ve decided not to send her back to Nursery at the moment so it looks like shes stuck with us till September when she goes to BIG School

Next Family Trip?

Did someone say Ikea is back open?

LittleShoutOut

This is where we try and highlight something every week that we didn’t create in the hope it gets some attention from other people (and they aren’t a usually a client so THIS ISN’T A PAID LINK JOHN..

Nothing more to say on this, if you can support, please do

That’s a wrap!

Thanks

Real Dom, Heather, Scarlett and of course, Robot Dom

Project Stardust Update – Meta Title, Description and Slack Changes!

Hello on Day 450 of April, I’m not saying the lockdown has started to affect us but I’ve created my own co-working space from Scarlett’s toys

Let me tell you, Spot the Dog NEVER shuts up about how he’s ‘smashing it’

If you’ve been following along with our Little Updates (and let’s be honest, you’ve not, why would you, before the lockdown you had better things to do with your time!) you’ll know that today was the day we were meant to fly out for our big family trip to all the Asian Disney parks.

It was clear a while ago that it wasn’t going to happen but we always knew that this day would bring some sadness of what could have been

You know what they say

The best way to get over having to cancel a once-in-a-lifetime holiday that you’ve been planning for two years is to launch a new feature on your website

They

And that’s exactly what we’ve done! Not only that but in this time of cutbacks and austerity we are giving you DOUBLE the updates… that’s right TWO new bits of functionality

Project Stardust

As I mentioned in the last Little Update (you are reading them right?), we’ve taken some time to build an internal dashboard that monitors usage of certain features and functionality. This lets us see when/where things are going wrong (mainly to work out which of our lovely crafted features you aren’t using and work out how to force encourage you to use them).

We’ve been using that information to improve user flow, fix bugs and plan our development. A big part of this is something we call Project Stardust

Project Stardust is our effort to hold off on new fancy features and focus on improving the functionality of current checks, making them more useful and configurable. This started a few weeks ago with Domain and SSL expiration and we expect it to take most of the summer to get through each check

Project Stardust is important to us because Little Warden isn’t just a software product; it is a big part of our lives and we want to make sure as many people as possible are not only signed up to LW (I mean we’ve gotta pay for those cancelled Disney trips somehow!) but also that it is providing as much value as possible to them.

We started to think about the context that we were sending notifications. It was clear that, for a few clients, the amount of Slack messages they were receiving would easily turn LW from a ‘oh something has gone wrong’ to a ‘oh that’s always sending messages, just ignore it’ and that is something we are constantly trying to improve (and we’d love any suggestions you have)

Title tag and meta description changes

Pretty soon after we launched, we asked what checks people would like and overwhelmingly the crowd shouted: Title Tag Change detection and judging by the fact that over 70% of our URLS have it enabled, you REALLY care about those title tags!

But it turns out some title tags change A LOT and this is a significant cause of notifications for people so rather than only email you EVERY TIME a change is made to a title tag, you now have a few more options

Little Warden can notify you when

  • A certain word or phrase appears or disappears from the title tag;
  • The title tag goes above or below a certain amount of characters;
  • The title tag contains a number which is above, below or equal another number;
  • The title tag is blank;
  • The title tag matchs or does not match a regular expression;
  • The title tag changes (we’ve kept that in for people);

These changes are live right now for you to use, we are still working on adding them to our add and mass edit process but that will be coming soon

Slack Updates

Until we implemented our monitoring system, we actually had no idea JUST how many Slack messages we were sending out (I know some of you analytics people are cringing at this but the downside of a small team is that you have to prioritise).

Once we realised just how many we were sending, we started looking into what we were sending and how and after a few hours of monitoring we noticed that a few customers were getting double notifications and we managed to fix that in a few minutes (the benefit of a small team is that you can act quickly)

Today we’ve launched changes to the way that we display Slack messages, making them much more context aware (previously we would send you a Slack message saying your SSL certificate expires in 452 days! Which looks confusing without the context that it had just switched from DANGER as it was 2 days away from expiration!).

We’ve also stopped sending Slack notifications when you initially add the sites to LW. We were finding that customers were adding hundreds of sites and Slack was bombarding them with issues (and now with our issues solver being part of the add site process, many customers are sorting issues as part of the add process!).

There are a few more nice things in the pipeline for Slack which we are really looking forward to sharing with you but for now, I’ve got to get back to moping about not having a photo with Mickey Mouse

Have a magical day

Dom, Heather, Scarlett and Robot Dom

Little Update #6

It’s been a while since we did one of these, to be honest it’s partly because I’m sick of every company (including the manager of Tesco every week) telling me how they are doing during the coronavirus and partly because we are working whilst distra educating and entertaining a four year old.

Little Updates

Whilst not a user facing feature, we’ve finally built our internal dashboard which has been on the ‘features list’ for a while. This lets us know what actions users are taking, when emails / slack notifications are being sent and what features / checks are most popular.

We’ve already found and fixed an issue with Slack notifications being sent twice in some cases and over the next few weeks we will be investigating each check and how to increase the usefulness and popularity.

What’s Next?

This week we will be launching a big update to LW, the first stage of our ‘advanced notification settings’ (I’ll think of a sexy name later), due to the complex nature of this check, we’ll be rolling this out check by check over the next few weeks but here is a mockup of what you can expect

There is a lot to digest here but here are a few points to pull out

  • Cleaner colour scheme with the status colour highlighted
  • A clear action of ‘what to do next’ for each check
  • The ability to be more specific as to when you should be notified
  • Robot Dom makes his appearance in the application for the first time ever!

We’ll be rolling this out first on SSL and Domain name expiration this week!

Family Updates

Scarlett is at home with us ALL the time which switches between an amazing experience and a struggle with great frequency, we’ve been doing plenty of family things together (I’ve never made so many cakes) but she misses her extended family, her friends and her routine.

We’ve been working on a few family projects such as our Christmas Lights project (I KNOW IT’S APRIL!)

We’ve also been playing a LOT of Animal Crossing, so if you want to discuss Turnip Prices or come and visit

Next Family Trip?

The end of the garden looks pretty good to us at the moment

LittleShoutOut

This is where we try and highlight something every week that we didn’t create in the hope it gets some attention from other people (and they aren’t a usually a client so THIS ISN’T A PAID LINK JOHN..

It feels likea cop out but there is no bigger than you we want to say that wasn’t all the Key workers that are literally keeping this country going.

From the Doctors, Nurses and NHS staff that are literally putting their life at risk to save others.

To the teams who deliver our post, pick up our bins, drive our lorrys, man our tills and keep the public transport system going for those who have to work.

Let’s not also forget all the sysadmins and network administrators who are making sure that the UK’s internet backbone is still running.

That’s a wrap!T

Thanks

Real Dom, Heather, Scarlett and of course, Robot Dom

The Penguin Awards (work from home edition)

I won’t lie, it’s been a tough few weeks here at Little Warden, the Digital Marketing industry has been decimated by budget cuts, companies folding and staff being let go.. It’s not a fun time for anyone.

In times like this, some people hide, some people heads down and focus on work and some people create stupid projects to try and make people launch

SO WE ARE BRINGING BACK THE PENGUIN AWARDS

For the next few weeks/months however long this takes, We have categories such as Best food based isolation creation, Best makeshift home office and best zoom background! to entertain you.

We’ve also got a weekly challenge that we are doing every week (this week is to create the best rainbow!)

We realise that money is tight at the moment for everyone which is why we’ve made this one pay as you feel, you can get involved with the awards without any cost!

But of course any money donated goes to the awesome folks at Martin House.

You can enter now!

Thank you, stay safe!

Love Dom

New Feature : Edit Mutiple URLs

You know sometimes you look back at a feature and think ‘what the hell were we thinking when we launched that?’

Welcome to our OLD edit mutiple checks interface!

If I had a pound for every complaint we’ve had about this feature, well, I’d probably have about £8, it’s not a popular feature but bloody hell it’s confusing to use.

I designed the thing and even I’m confused when I explain it.

The concept was sound, we needed a way that you could enable and disable checks on mass for multple checks BUT in a lot of cases some checks would be enabled for some but not others and you wanted to leave them alone.

Hence the frankenstein’s monster of an interface.

This has been bugging me for MONTHS but I couldn’t find a nice way of doing it, until the other day when Heather suggested an idea.. a very good idea, which was both brilliant and worrying.

You see the way Little Warden works is that I come up with the ideas, Heather builds it and I get the credit..

But now Heather is coming up with really good ideas…

I’m starting to feel very replaceable

Anyway

Our NEW Edit Mutiple URLS Interface

This new interface allows you to select the individual checks to enable and disable and then save and update. Perfect!

This feature is also the first official introduction of Robot Dom on the application side, keep an eye out for him though, you’ll be seeing him a lot over the next few months.

This feature is live and ready to go now! So go ahead have fun!

Thanks

Dom, Heather, Scarlett and Robot Dom!

Little Update #5

See, new branding on here as well

We live in a world where a garage that I used 3 years ago has just emailed me its coronavirus plan. Obviously that’s on our mind a lot but we’ve been working on some other things

Little Updates

  • We completely rebuilt our sitemap parsing system to handle much much larger sitemaps (and make the validator a little less strict)
  • We can now handle Gzipped sitemaps!
  • The homepage now has images that have accurate logos and screenshots!
  • Fixed an issue with the counts on the dashboard possibly being out of date in some cases

What’s Next?

It’s clear that the next few months are going to be tough all round, we’ve already had some customers cancel due to budget cuts and as a small SaaS tool where every customer counts, it’s concerning

But we must carry on, improve and hope that our customers see the value in LW and the work we do, so on that note work has started on our more granular notifications for each check, this will allow you to select the cirumstances in which you get messaged with changes and issues

Family Updates

  • Like many Brits we are just waiting for the schools to close, we’ve got a plan of action if that happens and work will continue on LW during this time.
  • Heather and I have worked together for years on a daily basis so there is no concern there (although we have been looking for some co-op switch games that won’t induce divorce)

Next Family Trip?

Who knows?!

As we speak now, every Disney park in the world is closed, countries are on lock down and people are reselling toilet roll amazon for ridiculous prices.. it’s not a fun time for anyone.

We’ve manage to cancel and get a refund on most of the asia trip now (just the Japan portion left) and once that’s done, we will re-think what’s going on.

We have Wine and Dine booked for November as this years #badparentsweek and I am hoping to hope that at least we know more by then.

LittleShoutOut

This is where we try and highlight something every week that we didn’t create in the hope it gets some attention from other people (and they aren’t a usually a client so THIS ISN’T A PAID LINK JOHN..

There are many people affected by the current situation but I want to give a shoutout to all the event organisers in our industry that have had to cancel or postpone events at great cost or stress.

A special shoutout to our friends at MKGO who took the tough decision to postpone, we are sponsoring along with our frenemies SiteBulb and when they select a date at the end of the year, we’d love to see you there.

That’s a wrap!

It’s always a toss-up with these things to be honest ‘when things are a bit crap’ or to have a ‘strong company front’. We try not to bullshit at LW and so I’m sorry if this Update is a bit negative, it’s gonna be tough here at LW towers for a bit, but I know we will be fine.

Thanks

Real Dom, Heather, Scarlett and of course, Robot Dom

Little Update #4

See, new branding on here as well

I told you we’d have one of these out before we went to Paris and here it is! Are you proud of me? Please, I’d just like a bit of positive reinforcement.

Little Updates

What’s Next?

We’ve got some early feedback from our Projects and Saved Settings launch that we want to jump on and some housekeeping over the next few days (as we are off on a bit of a family holiday)

When we get back, we are working on a more granular notification system for each check, you’ll be able to select more specific senarios for a check to notify you (and at what severity) and if that doesn’t excite you.. then you are pretty normal because let’s face it, nobody should get excited about features on a monitoring tool

Family Updates

  • I’m now the dad of a four year old
  • Saturday was a two party day for the girls, with Scarlett having a soft play party (#neveragain) in the afternoon then the evening the girls had a joint party with friends.

Next Family Trip?

We are heading to Disneyland Paris as the final part of Scarlett’s Birthday (and one of the many excuses we make as to not buy her a ‘big present’.)

We think this time Scarlett will FINALLY be tall enough to ride on Tower of Terror, Star Tours and Big Thunder Mountain so it’s an exciting trip for us

Last week we had a great time at the Harrogate Indoor Funfair.

Sadly, It’s becoming more and more likely that our China trip will have to be cancelled if not significantly changed, we are reading the news everyday and we’ve agreed to make the decision in the next 4 weeks.

LittleShoutOut

This is where we try and highlight something every week that we didn’t create in the hope it gets some attention from other people (and they aren’t a usually a client so THIS ISN’T A PAID LINK JOHN..

This week, there was no other person we could give a shoutout to other than Rachel!

She did the amazing work on the new Little Warden Logo and it was a pleasure working with her.

You should get in contact with her.

That’s a wrap!

Support times will be delayed this week whilst I’m queuing for yet another ride on the It’s a Small World.. in the World.

Thanks

Real Dom, Heather, Scarlett and the newly looking goood Robot Dom

You want Projects? You’ve got Projects

ANOTHER blog post this week, We really are on fire!

We get a LOT of feature requests at Little Warden and generally they are great ones and we want to build them as soon as we can.

With some feature requests, we know exactly what people want from them and we can implement as soon as the schedule allows, like our Google Sheets Integration.

However some features are a bit more diffcult to either implement or understand the use case, we often get requests for Google Data Studio integration but we’ve yet to have a customer tell us exactly what data they want and how they’d use it!

Introducing Projects (lite)

Projects are a lot like Google Data Studio, it’s not that it’s a difficult feature to build, it’s just that Projects mean so many different things to different people and we could spend months building an all-in solution of how we want people to use projects when based on previous experience, it doesn’t matter how WE want people to use features, they will tell us how they use it.

So today we are launching a very light implementation of Projects, you can add/remove URLs to a project and they act as a search filter.

URLs can only be added to one project but you can have URLs from the same site in different projects.

Once we’ve got feedback and useage stats from this feature, we can start implementing some of the advanced functionaility such as project rulesets and notifications but we wanted to get this first step live quickly

One of the downsides of being a small team is you have to prioritise so this feature (which has been requested a fair amount) has taken a bit of time for us to get to.

I hope you’ll get value out of Projects and feedback to us what you’d like to see. We do listen!

Thanks a lot

Dom