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A Lean Start for Digital Ocean

When it comes to development you can always add more, tweak features, test, commit, push, deploy, etc. Luckily before getting lost in the endless cycle of improvement, I read Eric Ries’ Lean Startup and immediately realized we needed to do a user focus group.

I can’t express how invaluable this experience has been. We’ve spent all week bringing users into our office and watching them interact with our website and control panel. On more than one occasion, I had to resist the urge to slap my forehead in a Eureka realization of how blind we’d been.

We hadn’t even realized that a “Sign Up” button wasn’t in our top Nav header. In other instances, we went too far in making things simple; as a result they actually became less obvious. We didn’t even include a section in the FAQ that asked the simplest question: What is a droplet?

But the real treat of the process wasn’t until Dave, our last tester, dropped by the office. Up to this point we’d enticed people with a bit of cash to give us an hour of their time. After wrapping up, we went to give Dave a check but he wouldn't accept it. We were surprised and asked him why he didn’t want it-- he told us that he just wanted to see what we’d put together. He was excited to see someone in the NYC tech scene developing infrastructure and not just doing another social media play.

We were floored and humbled by the experience. We thanked him for his time and in the end came away feeling that we’d taken away something much more valuable than a few user stories for our basecamp.

What we got was inspiration.

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