Our latest project: Yellow Pages Canada

yellow 300x193 Our latest project: Yellow Pages CanadaWe are very proud of one of our latest project with Yellow Pages Canada. Our mandate was to create a new section called Video Channel, where users can browse through more than 10,000 videos according to different categories and their preferred location. In other words, Yellow Pages but with videos.

The main challenge was to figure out how their huge databases worked (geo-location ,videos types, etc…) and create the most efficient solution to handle all the requests. Remember, we’re talking about a website that gets millions of visits everyday, and gets a very large number of searches. Our solution had to fit in nicely. Any significant delays for the user would simply mean abandoning the project.

Obviously we delivered on time and I’m glad to say it now, above expectations ; )

And we were happy to count on Dan Mireault, our favorite art director, to create a clean and efficient interface once again. Thanks Dan

Please check it out here: video.yellowpages.ca

February 5th, 2010

Magento templates-it’s more than HTML

We get a lot of requests for Magento. Not only building a whole site, migrating an old one but also simply doing “PDS to Magento” jobs. And then we get back to the client and they’re always surprised at the time (and dineros) it takes. “But it’s just a PSD?”….Well, yes, but Magento is not just HTML. Really

Here are the main differences:

  • Magento uses mostly blocks for its modules and components so you have to understand how they work and how they fit with your HTML and the overall code. It’s not plug and play and it takes time to figure out. Even after several projects.
  • You have to take into account in your evaluation and work all the pages beyond the home page and product pages, like account log in, checkout, shopping cart, wishlist and so forth….
  • Don’t forget the “communication” pages like transactional emails, newsletter templates, etc…
  • Finally you’ll probably be using javascript to make things a bit more user-friendly, like an accordion menu, or a gallery, so you need to take into account as well.

Overall, creating Magento templates are easily twice or triple the time it takes for a normal “PSD to HTML” job so be careful before you quote anything if you don’t want to lose your shirt. There a lot more pages and templates to play with than the home and product pages

Have fun!

February 5th, 2010

What startups are really like

Really good article that came out a few months ago by Paul Graham and got picked up by Boing Boing again.

We could not have said it better ourselves (some points are not relevant, like investors….). Here are the main points for those who are too lazy to read the whole thing : )

  1. Be Careful with Cofounders
  2. Startups Take Over Your Life
  3. It’s an Emotional Roller-coaster
  4. It Can Be Fun
  5. Persistence Is the Key
  6. Think Long-Term
  7. Lots of Little Things
  8. Start with Something Minimal
  9. Engage Users
  10. Change Your Idea
  11. Don’t Worry about Competitors
  12. It’s Hard to Get Users
  13. Expect the Worst with Deals
  14. Investors Are Clueless
  15. You May Have to Play Games
  16. Luck Is a Big Factor
  17. The Value of Community
  18. You Get No Respect
  19. Things Change as You Grow
January 5th, 2010

Happy New Year from Chiang Mai

Happy New Year 2010

December 28th, 2009

What a great year

It’s that time of the year when we reflect on the last 12 months and see what we did good/bad, where we want to go, etc….And frankly I have to say it’s been crazy (as in crazy good). If I think back at where we were a year ago, we can be pretty happy. I’m not going to brag and tell you we exceeded expectations…..but we did. In more ways that we think. However, expectations do not (only) mean money and growth, it means establishing a viable business for the long term, on the right track, and especially learning and enjoying what we do. Really, I think it’s a nice achievement. OK enough about praises. Here are a few things to summarize 2009 for us:

- We started with a rough idea, two white guys with laptops, very far from Canada, and we’re now a limited company with employees, established clients, contracts and so many things to look forward to in 2010

- To give you an idea, between our first formal mandate and the latest one, the size of the contract (in dollars) is literally 10 times bigger (again it’s not about money, but it gives you an idea)

- We are still learning everyday. Managing a business, between the day to day and long-term goals, between hiring good people to understanding/navigating through thai laws while at the same time trying to deliver 100% quality on every project….well, it’s a challenge. Honestly, we never thought it would be this hard. Nobody is prepared really, the only way to find out is doing it

- Working too much really $&%& you up. We need to take more time off work, recharge the batteries, even if it simply means going away for two days on a weekend.Yes as a start-up you need to work extra, but there is always a balance to achieve otherwise….what’s the point really?

- I may repeat myself, but it is not the hourly rates, the distance, the experience, the “i know this guy for X years”, it is the quality of your deliverables that dictates everything else.

- Be honest all the time with your clients. If you are late, if your evaluation was over/under, if a new module needs 3 extra days (and more money), if you cannot do his project, if you don’t want to work with them anymore. In the end it makes life so much easier.

- Coming to Thailand and working here has been an extraordinary life experience. The people, the food, the mountains, the sun, the lifestyle, the nightlife, etc….Above all, no matter how much we work, we see everyday, every time people on the streets struggling to get by to feed their families. It really keeps everything in perspective. It keeps you grounded, humbled and makes you enjoy Life even more.

2009 was great, and so far all the signs point to a very good 2010, so let’s enjoy it

December 28th, 2009

We won our first award

Nice news to round up the year, we (sort of) won our first award. One of our client claimed first prize for a b2c website.

We played a big part in the project since we did all the integration and development (Drupal platform). They did the design and flash animation (very nice work especially the flash!). The whole team here in Chiang Mai spent a few long nights on this project back in July. We’re happy it paid off!

Because we have a NDA with this client, we cannot tell you more unfortunately. All we can say is it’s a prestigious web award in Canada.

For those interested, email us and maybe if you’re nice we’re going to tell you a bit more ; )

December 7th, 2009

Our new employee

He’s quick, a bit hyperactive, gets up very early….yes, our latest team member is quite a catch.

Now he needs to work on his English a bit but he’s getting there….

new employee

Ok, jokes aside, this is our new friend who decided to come visit us last week. We are downtown Chiang Mai by the way, which makes it even more….well, this is Thailand : )

November 23rd, 2009

Our latest project: the massage emporium

massage emporium logo Our latest project: the massage emporiumThis project is special to us because it’s one of our very first client and probably the project we were involved the most, from beginning to end (and it’s not over). We started this project with the strategy, market study, business model and marketing plan, and we followed with the development.

With the precious help of our super dooper friend designer Dan Mireault we created what we feel is a nice interface, and decided to use the Magento platform. We did a soft launch 2 weeks ago, there are still a few tweaks here and there but I have to say overall we are quite proud of the result.

We are using Magento to its full capability: catalog, promotions, newsletter and we added extra modules. The most critical one being the Moneris payment getaway for Canadian clients. That part was actually pretty straight-forward and easy.

Please go have a look, and let us know what you think!

www.themassageemporium.com

October 21st, 2009

We sponsor BarCamp Chiang Mai 2009, Nov 14th

Barcamp is a wondeful opportunity to meet web people in a very relaxed and unformal environment. We attended Barcamp Bangkok a few months ago and now that it’s “coming to town” we had to do something (i.e. sponsor)

For those who don’t know what Barcamp is (taken from the website, I could not have said it better)….”Barcamp is a conversation. It’s an open, participatory event. Anyone can come. There is no audience, only participants. The whole idea is to get smart people that love technology together to collaborate, network, and learn.”

We invite people from all over Asia to come and join us. Chiang Mai is really a nice place and you’ll meet interesting people I guarantee (and the beer is cheap, you can get 3 large bottles for $3 US)

For more info: Barcamp Chiang Mai

ps: If any of you guys need help for travel or accomodations, let us know we will gladly help. There are tons of nice and cheap places to stay in CM for less than $20 a night / 500 baht (and you can share a room for two at this price)

October 8th, 2009

Selling mp3 online with Magento

We recently launched a mini site for an independant music label in Canada. The challenge was to build a full site with CMS and ecommerce capabilities….in less than 3 weeks. Thanks in part to Magento downloable product module, we could achieve this

selling mp3 with magento -  boutique la confiserie

  • Magento downloadable products allow users to listen to samples of the songs and even buy individual songs (like on iTunes)
  • We choose Magento because for phase 2 the store will sell t-shirts and physical albums, and everything is already set. These are just different type of products, you don’t have to create a new admin or a new back-end, the logic is already there. And this is a huge plus
  • We played a bit with the templates to create a better user experience and it was fairly easy with Magento. For example we added a flash music player component for samples so users can click on the link/button and listen without leaving the page
  • It’s pretty user-friendly. The client is now using it full time with very limited input from us a month later. They add mp3, albums, images, content, etc…

You can see the store here at boutique.laconfiserie.net. Sorry it’s all in french but I’m sure you can get the idea. By the way, we did the development only for this project

September 30th, 2009