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How we work on Little Warden during the Lockdowns

As we enter week 3 of Lockdown Number 3 in the UK I wanted to give you a bit of an update as to how we are dealing with it and still working on new updates at Little Warden!

Due to the schools closing, we’ve had to open the Hodgson Family Academy once more and lessons run throughout the weekday. It’s a job share with two teachers Mum and Dad and some substitute teachers of Cosmic Kids Yoga, Muzzy and the wonderful team at BBC Bitesize.

Heather and I alternate between one spending an hour or two in teacher mode and one will go to another room and focus on work.

Whilst it isn’t easy, we only get to work on things together when Scarlett is in bed.

We know we are so lucky to have the ability to both work at home and two people to swap with to focus on work, but we know that with the vaccine on the horizon, we have hope that things will return to normal soon!

…and that’s how this thing is supposed to go, some qusai-bullshit-overly-happy everything is going great, buy our product marketing post. 

But that wouldn’t be the truth, the truth is that both Little Warden and I are just starting to get back on track after a terrible terrible year.

Truthfully, when COVID hit and the country descended into lockdown (the first time) we lost a significant % of our customers in the first two weeks,  that was a difficult thing to accept as one of the main design principles of LW was to ‘keep an eye on things when staff aren’t around’, all of our growth, projections and development skidded to a halt and we focused on saving what we could.

Whilst eventually, after the initial panic, a lot of customers came back, new ones started to find us and on this third lockdown we are pretty much stable, this has set us back months if not longer. 

From a personal standpoint, I’ve not handled the last few months well at all. LW is my baby, I get excited about every signup, upset at every cancellation and panic everytime there is a bug (it’s true, just ask Heather), when we lost that many customers in a few weeks, I was heartbroken, I felt like we’d failed and some part of me still does.

Whilst LW was starting to recover, I was struggling with some UX tasks on my todo list, certain functionality that I just couldn’t get right, a task that should have taken a week was taking months.

Add that to the fact that most of my marketing plans for 2020 were shelved and I just didn’t have the energy to work on any more especially as by the end of the year we were heading for another lockdown and at one point. We even had discussions at some points with parties about selling Little Warden.

But then something happened that tipped me over the edge; I got banned from Twitter for a week, initially I didn’t realise how much that would affect me.

In ‘normal times’ I’m a pretty social person, I love conferences, meetups and as a family we eat out with friends and family a few times a week.

During COVID, Twitter has been my main source of social interaction with people, it’s my main communiction platform for friends I’ve known for years (some of whom, I’ve never met), losing that connection to the outside world made it all seem much more real and lonely. 

Obviously this couldn’t continue, with the help of my incredible wife and a few other friends, I started to focus on a daily checklist of achievable goals and outsourcing some of the stuff that I’m struggling with.

Then I had an Icelandic Pizza Moment* A breakthrough with one of the UX issues, this opened the floodgates to creativity.

I created a 6 month marketing plan for Little Warden and we reorganised the feature list responding some loud user feedback and Heather has being doing amazing work on features, tests and updates that our users are already loving (i.e. did you notice we launched teams this week)

Though things still are not ‘great’ the fact I started writing this at 2:30am because once again I’m unable to sleep due to the groundhog day style environment we are living in means I still have things to work on but I KNOW how lucky I am to be in this situation with my amazing wife and daughter who have been so supportive.

Last year I promised to write more posts and send more newsletters, this year I might not write more, but I’m gonna be a little more honest about what’s going on inside the mind of actual Real Dom. 

Well, this got a lot more disheartening than I thought it would and it sort of feels like I need to end it on a happier note and push some marketing stuff for Little Warden?

Our product roadmap and marketing plan have never looked better! Productivity whilst dimished due to the Hodgson Academy is still better than where we were as we have clear and achievable goals.

We’ve just launched TEAMS (finally) and have some more announcements this and next week of exciting updates (or at least as exciting as they can be when you are talking about website monitoring!)

On that note, I can hear the school bell (siri alarm) ringing and it’s time for Teacher Mr Hodgson to clock on and talk about the Number 7 in all it’s forms.

Thank you 

* I’ll explain that in another blog post

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  1. Hey man. It’s great to read that other men are having a hard time, and willing to share with those that want to listen.
    I’ve had similar issues and I know some of my friends did as well. It’s great to see that we can share how we feel more openly than we did before.
    At least, that’s how it feels to me.

    Also, thanks for the Little Warden plushy. My 2 boys like it 😉