Balsamiq Roadmap for 2009
This is part two of a two-part post about what happened in 2008 and my plans for 2009.
So 2008 was great, no, it was beyond great. I quit my job, moved to Italy and started Balsamiq Studios LLC, my first company. It went very well.
Perhaps I should be more cautious, but I have a feeling 2009 will be even better. Here's why.
Lots and Lots To Do
I am looking at my TODO list and I have 12, yes twelve projects listed which should keep me busy for the year, and then some!
The name of the game is "Integration"
Most of my big projects for 2009 have to do with integrating Mockups in your preferred way to work.
- I have 4 more server-side integrations of Mockups planned (with more possible), just like the Confluence, JIRA and XWiki plugin versions I shipped in 2008. Each of these has the potential to increase my revenue another 20-30%.
- I am working on a hosted version of Mockups - yes, I am no longer afraid of going SaaS, and lots of people have been asking for this. You'll be able to work on your mockups online, share them with others and get feedback on them, all from your browser (or from Mockups for Desktop), all for a monthly or yearly fee.
- I want to build the hosted version in a way that can be sold as an enterprise, behind-the-firewall application. And sell it.
- I am working on 3 or more "web connectors", i.e. ways to load and save your data on the web from Mockups for Desktop.
I wish I could tell you what products I am integrating Mockups with but I'll keep them as surprises, I don't want to jynx myself! 😉
I am thrilled about each of these projects, as making great pieces of software talk to each other is something I love doing (there's something magical about it, that's why I make Web Office Plugins after all). I will likely contract out part of the development work for some of these, and some platform providers have even offered to help me with development in order to make the project happen. Very exciting.
Client Side Enhancements
Everyone knows that linking mockups together is the last big missing feature of Mockups. I have started a GetSatisfaction thread about it just the other day, but I am itching to start implementing it (I think I'll do a phased approach, a little bit at the time), so stay tuned here or on Twitter for updates. It's coming, soon.
Other big client-side enhancements I have planned for 2009 are, in no particular order:
- double-clicking on groups to "dive into them" and edit their contents
- adding support for "UI packs" such as iPhone, mobile and social media UI control packs.
- adding a light-weight Rich Text Editor for the Paragraph and Label controls (for bold, italic, bullets, etc within the same control)
On top of that, there will always be bug fixes and little enhancements here and there...I am releasing every Sunday morning these days so keep updating!
More "Community Features"
I just love the little (ok, not so little) community that has formed around the Balsamiq GetSatisfaction forums in the last 6 months. Your feedback keeps me going every day and makes the product as good as it can be. I haven't worked on a feature that didn't come from a customer request since the day before I launched in June. It's wonderful to know that people will put what I'm working on to use immediately, and that it will make them more productive and ultimately happier.
The collaboration with InspireUX (look in the Help menu for the "I need inspiration" link) is also one of my favorite features. I always read one of Catriona's quotes at the beginning of a long Mockups session, it gets me fired up and pushes me to do my best.
In 2009, I want to help nurture the Mockups users community with the following:
- a Balsamiq Mockups Community Server (BMCS) - this will be a wiki with Mockups installed on it for people to share common UI components and design patterns that they created with Mockups. Think "Login Page" or "Registration Page" or a simple error message dialog. I am working with some customers on this and plan to launch it at the end of January. In the future I want the Desktop version and the hosted version (and all other versions actually) to integrate with BMCS so that you'll be able to import pre-made mockups directly from them.
- I plan on retweeting any good UX-related tweets I come across. If you know of someone I should follow to help me with this service, let me know!
- I plan on blogging about any user experience that blows me away, like Dropbox, Posterous, PivotalTracker, StackOverflow, PrintWhatYouLike.com and others.
- I plan on publishing interviews to customers whose jobs have been changed by Mockups, so that you'll be able to learn their workflows and experiences.
- I just talked to Mariah, and we decided that starting today, in addition to giving free licenses away to do-gooders, non-profits etc, we will also donate licenses to any high-school class that asks for it. We just ask the teacher to email us the name of their school and class and the number of students in the class, and Mariah will send them all a license.
You may think that I want to do all of the above as a marketing scheme, but you'd be wrong. Community "features" are just as important as features built with code. Knowing that there's a community of support behind a product is a wonderful feeling, and I want my customers to feel that from day one. Plus it's pretty lonely over here, so really I want to do it just for my own benefit. 😉
My Goals for 2009
My goals for the company are simple: keep existing customers happy. Make new customers, make them happy. Make all customers more productive. Provide top-notch experiences, both in the product and in any interaction with Balsamiq Studios. Stay transparent, stay human, stay green and socially conscious.
Financially, my goal for Balsamiq is to reach $400,000 in revenue, with a stretch goal of $500,000. It will be tough, but I think I can pull it off.
Personally, this will be another year of intense learning. I will have to go from "mr. Do-it-all" to be Balsamiq's CEO, which will mean having employees, delegating, setting up relationships with resellers and partners, perhaps incorporate in Italy as well (yay for micro-multinationals!), and hopefully make some non-critical-but-very-formative mistakes. With all that I have planned for 2009, there'll be plenty of opportunities for it. 🙂
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