eHub Interviews Staction

Posted by Bryan Collick on Tuesday, April 21st, 2009. Filed under: eHub Interviews

Visit Staction, originally added to eHub on Mar 16, 09.

Thanks to Jon at Paste Interactive for this email interview.

eHub: What is your web application/service about?

Staction:Staction is a project management tool focused on communication and on being fast. It uses a simple tags system to handle all interactions so you don’t have to worry about opening multiple pages to keep your workflow going; projects are tags, time entries are tags, file uploads are tags, etc.
It uses the Twitter concept of having small portions of content to communicate better and more objectively. It gives a sense of place to the virtual space, and you feel the office atmosphere when in Staction even if your teammates are 2 thousand miles away. Staction is what we like to call a “people management app.”

eHub: Why did you start this project?

Staction: Basically we started the project because we were very frustrated with the web-based project management apps we were using at the time. To us, they felt outdated, and a lot like a huge corridor full of doors linking to unrelated rooms–we usually had to keep 5 or 6 different tabs opened just to get through the common tasks of our days. It was painful. All the apps we used tried to tackle the problem in similar ways, and we wanted to do something completely different, show our new approach to things and hopefully help take the market forward.

eHub: How much time do you devote to its growth? Do you have a day job?
Staction: We split our time between project development for clients, and app development for ourselves. App development for Paste is our day job, but only half of it…

eHub: How large is your team and what are your backgrounds? (If you’re solo, what is your background?) Please include the full names and roles of team members.
Staction: We’re currently a small team of 6 working remotely across the globe. 2 of us have been the main creators of Staction. Brian Barbutti handled the bulk of the work, including dev from start to finish. Joe Morrow did the original concept development, and front-end design. More recently Jeff Gardner has taken on some writing, and promotion related duties.

eHub: What is your design philosophy?
Staction: For us, design is just as much about how it works as what it looks like. We concentrate a lot on making interfaces that people will like looking at. But we concentrate even more on making interfaces that will disappear into the background while people are using them. If there is a difference between us and most, it’s that we’re not afraid to make interfaces that require more advanced users. There is so much concentration these days on making apps simple to learn. While we think that’s an important part, we think that the more important part is making an app that is sustainable to use daily, even if there is a learning curve.

eHub: What technologies are you currently using?
Staction: PHP and MySQL.

eHub: If your project is live, what are the most requested features from your users/community?
Staction: The most requested features are: API, iPhone version, and a desktop dedicated version to take Staction out of the browser.

eHub: Does your user base reside in a primary geographic location or is it distributed?
Staction: It varies month-to-month, but it’s safe to say that 50% exist in the US, and of the other half there is a concentration in Europe.

eHub: Where do you see the project heading in the next 6 months? The next 2 years?
Staction: Over the next 6 months we hope to launch our API and potentially an iPhone or desktop-based version of the app–not just because we get a lot of requests for these from our users, but because we would also love to have them for our daily workflow. We like the idea that Staction will be the core of all sorts of convenient intuitive ways to work collaboratively.

eHub: What is the greatest challenge to your success?
Staction: It’s probably getting attention from users and getting them to try out the application for enough time to actually understand the concepts behind it. With the clutter and the number of apps the web provides nowadays, attention from the user is priceless.
We honestly feel that Staction can help in the workflow of a lot of people, but it’s not that easy getting users to actually try the app.

eHub: What is the one thing you need to get to the next phase of the project?
Staction: There probably isn’t any one thing. We make small improvements every day. But what excites us most is making Staction the core of all sorts of simple ways to work together. Each day we make strides towards that. We’re not the type of business that needs VC or an adviser. We build these things because we love them, and we think they’re a contribution towards helping the community move forward.

eHub: Do you have a business model? If so, what is it?
Staction: We charge subscriptions fees for our premium plans.

eHub: How much traffic or usage do you see on an average day?
Staction: Our usage has been on the rise since we launched our first app Jumpchart, and recently we had to upgrade our server twice in order to keep things running smooth. Since our apps so far have been mostly targeted at niche users, we’re proud to say that we have around 15,000 accounts across our apps.

eHub: What is the one thing you’re most proud of about the project?
Staction: We’re most happy when we hear about a user switching from another app. It’s proof that the reasons we built Staction in the first place were right for the people we were targeting. We love the idea that we’re helping people work better, faster, and more smartly than they have been able to so far.

eHub: How would you describe the shift that’s occurring with the web right now to future generations?
Staction: Things happen slow until history looks back on them. Right now it might seem like we’re all just recombining browser form fields in the hopes of making something new, history will look back on this period with a more astute view. The importance of these small apps, experiments, and websites can’t be overestimated. It’s important to keep perspective about all this, though some people get wrapped up in it. But it is really really important.

eHub: What site(s) do you visit or have in your RSS reader other than your own?
As a random sampling of sites all of us like:
Seth Godin
The Big Picture

eHub: How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Staction: It varies for all of us. But for the most part, despite our lack or surplus of sleep, our concentration is on life rather than work. We find that the number of hours worked is not proportionate to the success of the project. Yes, it takes lots of hours to make an app work, -but the more important quotient is how fast workers recharge their batteries to make great things again. We’re not a “butts-in-seats” kind of outfit. And we’re most decidedly not an 18 hours a day shop. We try to work obsessively for 8 hours and then stop.

Thanks again to Jon at Paste Interactive for this email interview.

Visit Staction
Originally added to eHub on Mar 16, 09