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Cheatsheet

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Introduction

What this is about

Management and Planning

Decide if it's a business or a hobby

When running a business, decisions made must be in its best interest. When working on a hobby, you can do whatever you feel like on that morning.

Don't drink the Koolaid

Keep your head down and focus on the business, not on reputation building.

Building a marketplace is like training for a marathon

You need to operate at near maximum, but not quite, for very long.

Investor value of a marketplace

It comes from owning the transaction and being difficult to replace.

The tech roadmap should follow the business roadmap

It should be very flexible to changing requirements.

Bug priorities should relate to your ability to collect money

The more your ability to collect money is impacted, the higher the priority.

Focus on what if it succeeds

Do not plan prematurely plan for contingencies and split your focus.

Keep track of why decisions were made and features built

This will help you keep track of original reasoning when the feature was built and allow you to see if the circumstances have changed enough to further develop something.

You're not FAANG so don't hire like FAANG

You are not looking for the same things and you cannot offer the same things.

Take hiring seriously

You should consider it a key task and put in effort.

Don't create silos

It's better for everyone to know what's happening.

What it really means to make data-driven decisions

Gathering as much correct data as possible, constantly reviewing decisions and being able to tell signal from noise.

Mistakes to avoid when assigning ownership of metrics

Here are some mistakes to avoid when assigning ownership of numbers.

Get good at cohort analysis

It's one of the most useful tools and will be used for due diligence as well.

Removing things is good

Things that aren't working should be removed and not maintained further.

Convert, grandfather or alienate

Three approaches to handling changes that users might not be happy about.

Product

Lessons when designing the product.

Don't half-ass many things

Half-ass one thing many times.

What you don't build is nearly as important

Because that means you didn't spend time on something that isn't useful.

Not everyone's opinion is equal

Don't ask an accountant about routing algorithms.

Observed users personas

When you are observing users interacting with your app, they take on a different persona

You might get customers that you weren't planning on

Listen closely to their feedback because they are actively looking for a solution to a problem.

Two ways of doing design

Help the user do what they want, or make the user do something you want. Try to do mainly the first.

Don't overreact to weak signals

It makes you build poorly thought out and potentially wrong things.

Your team are your users too

They should be given a similar level of attention as your external users.

Separate the trackers for admins

That way main user data won't be polluted, but you'll still have a window into what the admins are doing.

Pick role models and copy common features

Instead of redesigning standard features, pick comparable role models and copy theirs.

Product development is process development as well

Software is a supporting component in a process that accomplishes something useful more efficiently than others.

Think about how new things can affect what you already have

In particular, consider whether new things you're working on can destroy what you've already built.

Consider the complementary interaction

Sometimes creating the opposite interaction can have an even more powerful effect

Each job should have a custom dashboard

That dashboard would show all and only the information and actions that they need.

Understand your value to your users

Make sure that you know all the benefits of what you're selling, not just what you intended.

Learn the correct jargon and use it consistently

To effectively communicate with your team and customers, you must learn the correct jargon and use it consistently.

Simple user permissions are very useful

They're not just about control but also a tool to design a simpler and less error-prone product.

Build a simple flexible dashboard for viewing stats over time

Include the ability to select start and end dates, period lengths, and the number of periods prior and following.

Technical

Build polite software

The principle of polite software is a great cheatsheet while improving your product design skills.

You can get quite far with a small tech team

You're likely not innovating on tech but rather on the underlying process. So you should hire for people familiar with your niche and tools.

Take security seriously while you're small and no one is likely to exploit you

Using a static analysis tool that scans for vulnerabilities is a great help for this.

Take testing seriously as you go

It's much easier to build it in step with the platform rather than having to backfill later.

Take performance seriously while it can't cripple you

Premature optimization might be the root of all evil, but performance often means just not being lazy.

Use an error tracking tool as early as possible

A central place where you can trace errors, track their progress and easily identify regressions becomes valuable very early on.

Implement a background task processing structure

It's a pre-requisite in some cases, a nice to have in others, but it also gives you better bang for your buck when it comes to hosting.

The more documentation you can generate automatically, the better

Docs are useful but will quickly take a back seat. Using tools that generate as much documentation as possible automatically are essential.

Consider adding these attributes for every new model

These are some common attributes that we've found to be useful to include in many models.

Interface should behave consistently

It is important for UX but also removes the need to think about them during implementation.

Generate more data than you think you'll need

Build in tracking for things in advance even if you think you won't use them because data is the first step towards developing something new.

Know when to denormalize columns

Store and sync derived columns that are frequently accessed or that you need a historical record of.

Maintain a hierarchial structure for settings

Often the ideal structure involves three levels: system, group, and individual. The setting should be picked up in reverse order.

Have admin editable platform settings from the start

Don't only avoid magic numbers but avoid constants entirely.

Implement an audit log

It's just needs setting up once and is useful for a few different things.

If dealing with money get as close as possible to double entry bookkeeping

That way you will be able to track incoming and outgoing from the start, immediately be able to reconcile, give finance a proper insight and make due diligence easier down the line.

Build and use a robust import feature

Make a robust import feature that can be used for different entries.

Build and use a robust export feature

Use a library for exporting your index views to XLS or CSV.

Give admins the ability to comment on everything

It will be very helpful as a central store of operational knowledge that survives team changes.

Admins need fudgability

This ranges from being able to edit individual order values to being able to perform tasks on users' behalf.

Use fewer tools but more completely

Their features are nearly identical, they all have advantages and disadvantages. Pick the one most of your people are familiar with.

Be prepared to roll features out in stages

Features that are used frequently, impact sales or are complex should be rolled out in phases rather than to everyone at once.

If the changes you're working on will require downtime, split them into two

One part should be the migration while the other implements the functionality. They should be deployable independently.

Use different keys for different parts of the cache

So you won't needlessly invalidate large parts of your cache

Users double click everything

Make sure that duplicate actions aren't destructive or that they cannot be done in the first place.

Build stats beginning with the rows

Instead of querying the stats first, join it with the rows that you have to have.

Create a separate stat model

You can track stats independently and not have to keep adding columns to the main operation models.

Async selects are easy performance wins

Implement a re-usable structure that can be used for different models.

Contributing

Ways to contribute

Roadmap

A loose roadmap of what I'll work on next