We’ve just closed a financing in Borrowed & Blue and Jason joined the board. Given that Jason is also on the board of Craftsy and Havenly, I’m going to bring up the idea with my partners today that we create and design a new theme around arts and marriage. See what I did there?
A friend of mine sent out a wonderful note (well – actually an FAQ) last night about eloping. He and his now wife are in Hawaii at an event and tied the knot over the weekend. I’m psyched for them as we talked to him recently about whether they should elope or not. Amy and I eloped so while we are a fan of weddings, we realize how stressful and expensive they can be.
Enter Borrowed & Blue, whose tagline is the ‘Smarter Way to Wed’. B&B is taking a content and data-centric approach to serving the wedding industry. B&B is focused on helping couples discover vendors through their work. Every photo on the platform is tagged with the relevant vendors whose work is featured, and links to more detailed information about that vendor. To build up this repository of content, the company publishes more weddings than anyone else online, adding 350+ new weddings a week to its platform. The company has doubled its audience in just the last four months, and already has 18,000 vendors actively engaged on the platform. Borrowed & Blue has also recently launched an iOS app available in Apple’s App Store.
On top of this foundation of content, Borrowed & Blue is building the first transactional marketplace for the wedding industry, so couples will be able to book their venue, photographer, planner, etc. on the platform. Borrowed & Blue’s goal is to provide vendors with a true pay-for-performance model, while offering couples a one-stop shop to both discover and book all their wedding vendors online. Our marketplace theme posits that technology can be the answer to galvanize the two communities of wedding vendors and planning couples, and create a highly attractive business. We were particularly attracted by the company’s product focus and data-driven model.
So – you can elope, stress out, or try out Borrowed & Blue. And, if you have a good name for our pending Arts, Crafts, Design, and Marriage theme, leave it in the comments.
Late breaking news: Ryan reminded me that fashion should be included in the mix, as Jason is also on the board of Betabrand.
Every few years I update the look and feel of my blog. This year is a significant upgrade, both on look and feel as well as the entire back end infrastructure.
In the past six months, I’ve started to notice complexity creep into everything in our world. While design is still front and center for many developers and entrepreneurs, I’ve gotten tired of the overwhelming UIs, confusing UXs, and immense complexity under the hood. It’s kind of like a calendar that just keeps getting stuff added to it – all of a sudden you are busy for all of your waking hours with meetings, and have no time to really get any work done.
We took a completely bottoms up approach this time and started from scratch. We tossed everything out and rebuilt everything – the infrastructure, the blog, and the design – from the ground up.
A thing you probably won’t notice, but is the starting point, is that we’ve moved feld.com to Pantheon. We are investors and love the company. The only thing you should notice is lightning fast response all the time, regardless of traffic load. If you ever notice anything different, please tell me.
Next, we approached the design from a minimalist perspective, which is coming back into vogue in a lot of places. My blog was starting to feel like a Geocities site to me, with all kinds of additional crap on it beyond my writing, and I decided I just wanted it to focus on my writing and my community in the comments. I copied Fred Wilson in this regard as he made this shift a while ago. After looking at many popular blogs, I kept coming back to his approach.
We’ve tried to do this in a way that keeps the writing front and center but still has easy access to other things on feld.com. On the left is site specific stuff, such as additional feld.com content (About, Investments, and Marathons), clear discovery (Search, Categories, and Tags). On the right is post specific actions (Comments, Category for the Post, Tags for the Post, and Sharing options.)
If you want to subscribe to anything or follow me anywhere, that’s on the top right.
We’ve also rebuilt the data underlying things from scratch. We’ve gotten rid of a ton of plug-ins that either weren’t being used or didn’t add anything (other than slowing the site down). We worked hard on a site that could be viewed on any platform, regardless of browser or mobile device. And we’ve tried to keep the principle of clean, minimal, and readable – with the focus on the content – throughout.
I’m sure there are many, many things we could improve. As I roll into 2015, we are going to finalize this theme with your feedback, and then apply it to all the other active sites in our universe, especially StartupRev.com which desperately needs an overhaul.
So – comment with any feedback you have – good, bad, and other. Constructive or flamey. In the comments, or via email to me. And, if we blew it, we’ll keep iterating.
I read a lot – somewhere between 50 and 100 books a year. I prefer long form (books) to medium form (articles, blog posts), although I read plenty of that as well. I’m a visual learner, so I learn a lot more from reading than I do by listening to a lecture or a video.
I’m always curious what my friends are reading and often grab books they recommend. Last week Fred Wilson wrote a post recommending two books including Randy Hunt’s Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Web Products. I grabbed them both.
I read Randy’s book yesterday while procrastinating working on my next book, Startup Opportunities. Randy was the Creative Director at Etsy for a number of years and has written a strong, easy to read, and very accessible book for anyone interested in better understanding how to design web products. And, he does a great job of defining a “web product” as much more than just a web site – think Etsy, Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter – and all the corresponding pieces including the APIs, native apps, mobile apps, and website.
I love the way this book starts off – with a quote from Paola Antonelli, MoMA Senior Curator of Architecture & Design + Director of R&D.
“People think that design is styling. Design is not style. It’s not about giving shape to the shell and not giving a damn about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.”
If that sounds a little Steve Jobsian, and it resonates with you, then you will enjoy this book. Randy treats the subject simply and clearly. He does it in a way that anyone who is not a natural designer or developer will understand. It’s not about UX, UI, IxD, or any other initialisms or TLAs. It’s about product design.
Thanks Fred for the recommendation. While short, I learned a couple of things, which made my time with this book worthwhile. And, for the zillions of entrepreneurs out there who think they grok how to design things, I recommend this book as you’ll learn something that will make you even better at what you do.