Whenever you launch a startup with a small team you have to make feature sacrifices, things that you can ‘build in later’ and when building Little Warden, Teams / Additional users was one of them.
Last year during the global pandemic (remember that, I’m glad that’s over and done with) we decided to implement them but it turns out, that’s a lot harder than you think!
Introducing Teams for Little Warden
Here is what you get
Individual logins and passwords (no more swapping post it notes!)
Granular access levels limiting actions or projects
Here is what you don’t get
Per member pricing – Unlimited Users included on all packages (apart from freelancer)
Team Members cannot modify billing.
How it works
When you create a team member in Little Warden you give them a role, that role has specific abilities and access rights, you can have as many roles as you want, but typically during our testing, most companies have let all users have full access to everything.
What about notification emails already in the system
This was a difficult one I’ll be honest, whilst the original plan was just to instantly convert them into team members, we’d have to assume permissions for all of our accounts and that’s just not possible.
So anyone that is a notification user will get an email allowed them to request Conversion into a team member, when this is clicked, the account owner gets a notification and a direct link to give the user a role.
I wish we could solve this easier but we couldn’t and once everyone is upgraded it won’t be a problem anymore!
As usual, everyone on the team is invited to a quick one2one walk through of the system and capabilities, there will be a direct booking link in your invitation email!
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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.
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.
tldr; From next week, when you add a URL to Little Warden if the host url (domain or subdomain) isn’t in your monitor list, we will automatically add it, this is to aid future development and stop duplicate notifications.
Wow, two blog posts in a week! Let’s not expect this pace for the rest of the year!
Fast forward two and a half years and we’ve thousands of URLs now monitored on a URL level…. which is fine (let’s face it, it lets us sell bigger packages) but also it means sometimes we have to work around that initial database design to make it work.
One of the main issues we’ve had since adding URLs has been notifications on certain checks like Whois and robots.txt which are at domain or subdomain level, we’ve made it too easy for people to accidentally enable them on thousands of URLs.
Initially we didn’t think of this scenario and did a a terrible job sending them multiple alerts but for the most part we’ve managed to stop this and work around it BUT that workaround was always short term and a combination of feedback to our latest customer survey (you should fill it in btw) and over Christmas we took some time to map out what the issues were with it and what we wanted to do.
So from next week, some checks will ONLY be enabled on the Host (the Root domain or subdomain)
Domain Name Expiration
(Now it’s the internet so there are bound to be some edge cases where your scenario is different, get in touch if that breaks your usage)
Looking at our current customer list, this only affects about 6 customers in total and only adds one or two URLs to their usage so we could have properly gotten away with it by sneaking it in.. but that’s not how we work at Little Warden (plus… gotta write some content)
I’ll send a tweet when this goes live and who knows, it might even be in the next newsletter!
One of the most important things that Little Warden does is keep an accurate changelog of the changes we’ve detected.
Recently though we’ve gone through a round of customer feedback and whilst the contents of the changelog are welcome, the visual aspect of the design needed improvement.
Feedback and comments such as
It hurts my eyes to look at
It’s very garish
It’s not easy to scan
And other more hurtful things. that I took wwwwwaaaaaaayy to personally.
BUT they were right, it wasn’t the best way of displaying the data and it’s time we gave that section a refresh, so it’s out with the old
and in with the new
This change is also reflected in the emails that we send out every morning.
This is the last update before our LittleTrip but we’ve got some really exciting features and UI changes ready to go live when we get back (It’s never good to launch a brand new feature then go on a cruise ship for two weeks)
It’s just a few days till our LittleTrip but before we go, there are a few changes we are making due to customer feedback.
We’ve got some big changes coming tot he patrol report in June to make them much more actionable but for now we are going to stop sending monthly patrol reports by default, after a range of feedback we’ve found that the size of them is too large to actually be a worthwhile email to send and due to a bad design (sorry) they often get confused with Change Reports.
From now on, we are cutting down the amount of times you are notified about certain items that are domain based, for example if your domain expires in 20 days, you now won’t receive a warning about it for every URL with that domain.
Why I hear you ask, did we do this ages ago?
The truth is, We didn’t realise how annoying it was until a customer mentioned it!
We are constantly trying to improve our emails and the accuracy, if you ever have an issue with them, please reply to them and Robot Dom will forward them onto us.