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

Say Hello to Robot Dom (and the new Little Warden)

Today, we are showing the world TWO new bits of design that we are VERY proud of.

Robot Dom and our new Little Warden logomark.

Robot Dom

Since we came up with the concept of Robot Dom we’ve wanted to give him a face, we’ve tried several iterations of this but it was always one of those things that ‘We don’t know what we want, but we sort of know what we don’t want

In early January I saw down and write an design document which was probably one of the strangest document I’ve ever had to write, trying to write a brief about a Robot version of yourself and thinking about what really makes you.. You.

Because of the nature of the design (and that I didn’t know what I wanted) it was the perfect opperunity to use BeeAllDesign, created by my friend Clarke, it gives you unlimited revisions on items for a monthly fee and for someone like me who has ZERO design skills, this is perfect.

Previously I’d asked them to design the UKDisDad Logo and that turned out brilliantly (a lot of the stuff I get them to design usually has a picture of me in it.. wonder if there is something in that)

Our latest Logo, with Heather and Scarlett added.

After a 18 revisions, the team at BAD have come up with a fantastic illustration of Robot Dom and I’m really pleased to introduce him to the world

There he is, the cheeky chappy.

Over the next few weeks, we will be ‘rolling’ him out across the website and social media but we couldn’t wait to introduce him to the world.

Little Warden Logomark

The next thing for us was to grow up and have our own Logo.

For the past two years we’ve survived on a generated Icon from LogoJoy, and I think it’s served us well but to be honest, it’s never been ‘ours’.

I was speaking about my issues with the logo in the On the Side Slack, I got chatting to Rachel Shillcock and it was clear that she was the one to help with this redesign.

After a painless discovery process and a few back and forth questions, we quickly came upon the foundation of what we wanted the logomark to say.

  • We wanted to keep the shield for consistancy
  • We wanted to keep a simple design but have it unique enough that you could say ‘oh that’s Little Warden’ without having the text next to it
  • We wanted the L and W on the logo (but integrated as part of the design)

With that in mind, let me introduce you to.

And put together with an updated font (that Rachel chose because I don’t know anything about fonts)

We are really really pleased with this look and hope you’ll enjoy seeing it across the website and at events in the next few weeks.

I highly recommend both BeeAllDesign and Rachel for your design and branding needs, especially if like me, you know nothing about design.

Adding URLs Just Got Better!

At Little Warden, we like to ask what our customers love and hate about the service, it could be via email, Skype, Survey or shouting at them from across the room at conferences.

The two largest issues people have had with Little Warden recently are Adding URLs is complicated and I only want Little Warden to notify me in THESE specific circumstances.

Now, being a small development team we can only work on one large thing at once, we’ve been working on the Adding URLs is complicated to make it easier, so here it is.

Step One – Add Your URLs

Nice and simple

We’ve made this nice and simple, a large box for you to just paste everything you want to track in.

Step Two – Select your settings

Now here it gets interesting! You can carry on just using your default settings (which are displayed in the box) OR you can use some previously “Saved Settings” (ooh that’s a new feature, yes, yes it is) or you can select all the settings from scratch again.

Let’s do that

Step Three – Choose your Checks

We redesigned this page a few weeks ago to make it easier to read and configure so we won’t spend too much time on it, just know that we’ve done it so it’s easier to add more checks down the line (hint hint)

Step Four – Advanced Settings

Now this bit is a little bit complicated BUT you only have to do it once per setting!

With this page, we are starting to tackle some of the common things with LW that people react to differently (mostly redirects) so we are giving you the choice to say, how do you want Little Warden to handle them?

You can also edit the notification settings and page load settings directly from here.

Step Five – Savin’ and Namin’

Last up, we can now make the settings we’ve chosen the default and give them a name for later (i.e. important sites we care about checks)

Step Six – gogogogo

and that’s it, you are done.

Outro

For the first time ever you can now have several different saved settings which save different things such as notification emails, custom content settings and page load type.

We’ve got a few more enchanments of this sytem coming in the next week or two *cough* projects *cough* editing settings *cough* before we move onto the next big issue for our customers, Granular Notification Settings.. wow that just sounds exciting doesn’t it.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Dom


Little Update #3

Hello to the literally tens of people reading this (according to our stats), it’s been a bit of a light few weeks for updates this time due to so much work happening on the New URLs feature (which is VERY VERY VERY close)

Little Updates

  • New Check selection now split into tabs for easier reading and expandability later.

What’s Next?

Well other than our New URLs Section, we’ve been making progress on two new design things.

First up our Logo Mark, we love the current one BUT it’s a public domain icon that we used and it’s time for us to have something of our own.

Next up (and more exciting to some), Robot Dom is very close to having a face! So close infact, I can show you a LITTLE preview of him right now!

Robot Dom Preview

I’m really excited to show this to the world and put a face to the name

Family Updates

  • Birthday month is here and so that is on Scarlett’s mind most of the day (including how many cakes she would like)
  • We are watching the updates from China with regard to our May family holiday, it’s concerning but there is nothing we can do about it (especially as they expect both Disneylands to be closed for 2 months!
  • The videos are still going strong with the Final day of our November trip now live, Six Flags : Magic Mountain (…please subscribe)

Next Family Trip?

After Cadbury Land last weekend (video soon), we’ve got a few weeks before our next adventure which is the Harrogate Indoor Fun Fair!

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 I’d like to give a shout out to Mark and the team at candour for building the excellent application

I’ve been using this a lot recently to do some writing (more information coming soon) and it’s really helped me look at the questions people are asking about subjects

That’s a wrap!

I was going to give a shout out to Mark Rofe (the very lonely billboard guy) but since he has ignored my lunch invite on FB messenger, I think the fame is starting to get to his head..

Thanks

Real Dom, Heather, Scarlett and soon to have a face Robot Dom