New messaging system

We have a new messaging system, but since a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Searching Staffer Profiles

A quick example of how you can easily search WITHIN a staffers profile.  We’ve logged in on the manager side of Watu as Steven Spielberg.  We’re going to search for Michael Duncan as we’re shooting a movie about Ben&Jerrys and we’ve heard he loves ice cream.  This is how his profile appears;

Now we want to search within Michaels profile to see what type of ice cream he loves.  By clicking CONTROL F (windows) or COMMAND F (mac), we can easily search within his profile…

And within his notes too.

Making it much easier and faster to get to the information we’re looking for.

Watu, saving staffing teams time and money.

An example of why search is hard

We recently struggled to produce a positive search result for a staffer that we knew existed in the database. Will Ferrel, an example candidate in our staging site, appeared to pitch up in search results when and if he pleased:

If we searched for Ferrel or “Will Ferrel” (with the quotes) he appeared, but not when searching for Will:

Having a CTO who used to work at Google helped explain this conundrum with little difficulty. Will Ferrel just happens to have a first name that is also known as a stop word in the world of search. Here’s the explanation:

Stop words carry almost no meaning in search, they are words that connect one word to another. “be”, “there”, “a”, “will’, are all examples of stop words. Search works by showing you results based on the score it attributes to that piece of information (derived by the number of times your search term appears in that article), so if you searched for batman, an article with Batman in it numerous times would appear high in the search result. However, if you searched the batman, without a stop word protocol, search engines would produce articles with many mentions of “the” in them, which as you can imagine would invariably produce a dud result.

Nevertheless, searching using Watu will now return the expected result:

Related articles:

Small improvements for Notes and Photos

Two new small but very handy improvements today!

We’ve been hearing your feedback and are making it easy to see a staffer’s photos and notes.

As you can see, the profile page looks quite different today. At a glance now, you can see that Andy has 4 notes added by managers.
Let’s take a look:

You now also have direct access to all the photo albums:

And easy navigation between the photos of each album, to be able to check all photos much faster

That’s all for now! Like I said, short, but hopefully this will save you some time when evaluating staffers

Resource Dictates Design

I recently saw this timeline of design from foursquare demonstrating their progression since January 2009.  It was a great reminder to me that patience is a virtue and that great design, functional and aesthetic, will be achieved in due course.

One of the great things about working on Watu is that we get to tinker with design as we go.  In true lean startup spirit, we’re building quick and simple, deploying to our customers, watching how they behave in the app, learning and tinkering with design.

Most of our focus goes in to functional design, ‘are our buttons in the right place’, ‘can our customers achieve their aim in as few clicks as possible’ and ‘does the screen give as much valuable information as possible to the manager or staffer at any one time’?

For the time being, aesthetic design questions, ‘does the manager avatar look incredible?’, ‘how awesome is our ‘Create Note’ button?’ ‘does Watu’s bum look big in that?’ have to sit on the sidelines.

When resource permits, we’ll be all over both functional and aesthetic as we push to build one of the most beautiful apps in the world.

It’s all in the contract

We’ve recently met with a couple of promotional staffing agencies who are desperate to move across to a simpler, more intuitive application and are excited by the possibilities of watu.

As they sit toiling away with their current infrastructure, in most cases some form of permanent recruitment application that they’ve tried to bend their business around, they talk forlornly about the contract terms that they had to sign, committing them to lengthy periods of engagement, which are stopping them from jumping ship.

You can learn a lot about the nature of a product, and a great deal about the faith that the vendor has in their product, by the type of contract they want you to sign.

Onerous contracts that have lengthy break clauses, long tie in periods, high switching costs and restrictions on how much of your data you can migrate, imply that the vendor needs this final bastion to discourage you from moving away from their service once you’ve been engaged.  It implies an insecurity about the one thing they’re selling to you.  Why else would you need such restrictions?

At watu we have a pretty simple contract.  WE need to be awesome, YOU need to love what we build, and WATU, as your staffing technology platform, needs to prove itself as a fundamental element in the success of your business.  If we fail at any of these, you’re free to leave, immediately, with all of your staffer data.  No break clauses, no hidden costs, no data restrictions or migration hitches.

If we don’t rock for you, we don’t deserve you as a customer.

To enquire about watu, the promotional staffing technology, e-mail

New search functionality

We recently released a new search functionality that included both an infrastructure change as well as a new design that allows us to show more information on the search results.

Like before, you can search for the staffers’ names:

You can also search for any piece of data that is part of a profile and it’ll show it to you right back in the search results:

I suppose you need to know how to operate a radio to be 007 or to travel back to the future.

Your search may as well match data in different fields, like in this case matching both colours and flavours of ice cream:

You can drill down your search results by adding keywords that can match any other information in the profile:

This means, that at a glance, you can see why we are displaying each result. There’s no need to go into the staffer profile and scan it. As we handle more and more data, bigger profiles and as well more people there’s only one way to manage it: search. Search is hard, but at watu we put a lot of emphasis in finding the right results and displaying them in the correct way.