The world is constantly changing at break-neck speed, so it’s important as a software-solutions company to keep up the pace. This means that aside from creating new projects, we also have to keep our focus on existing products and make sure that they stay up-to-date and run as smoothly as possible. Recently, however, we decided to take one of our more successful products - Timetag - even further.
Timetag came about as an internal project, a much-needed answer to a growing company’s need to develop some kind of time tracking solution. Since XAOP had some bad (usability) experiences with corporate time tracking software, we were looking for a low-overhead solution, without interfering with our agile workflow.
We came up with the idea of registering our time in Google Calendar, the main advantages being:
- most people already use this calendar every day, so no need to learn and use yet another a new tool,
- lots of different calendar tools available - you can use what you want, BYOA “avant la lettre”,
- a calendar UI inherently gives you a good overview of the “completeness” of your entered time,
- it not only lets you log your time, but also plan events, such as meetings, holidays, etc., and
- being able to share your calendar with your colleagues.
Originally intended for internal use only to manage the budgets of the projects and help the invoicing process, Timetag was quickly made publicly available for free to do its ease of use and success amongst our colleagues. Over the next few years, we continued to add small improvements to the app and build a small but loyal customer base.
The next phase started in September 2014. Because of the growing number of customers and the Timetag architecture, we were starting to hit the Google Calendar API limits. The only solution to solve this was a rather drastic one: thoroughly considering the risks, we started a full rewrite of Timetag. Then, after a couple of months and about 320 workdays of effort later, the new version was ready for prime time. Obviously we tackled the blocking backend issues, but we also implemented a completely new design, added some new features, improving user experience, and making the reporting much more powerful.
Activity graph of the Timetag rewrite project (source: XAOP Timetag reports)
Finally, we also took the decision to add two paying models with additional features and integrated the Stripe payment platform. Timetag remains free for personal use but we ask a small fee per user when using it as a team. Reductions on the standard price and free trials are available, so don’t hesitate to check these out. This past year we’ve also built an API for Timetag, which allows developers to reuse the raw data and automate updates, and an iOS app, an easy-to-use alternative for adding information (without the need to know your tags) to Timetag that will be stored in your calendar.
Still, there is always room for improvement. What’s most important to us is how our users feel about using the application:
- Do they find it easy to use?
- Do they like the design?
- Is there something that we could add to the application to make it easier to use?
- Are they still using Timetag regularly?
- What could motivate the people who stopped using Timetag/use it infrequently to use it more often?
To find the answers to these and other questions, we launched a Timetag Feedback Campaign, where users were asked to fill out a short survey regarding their user-experience with the application. The response we received from our users was overwhelming - filled with useful suggestions, constructive criticism and grateful appraisal. We’re very pleased and appreciate the time everyone took who filled out the survey to help us out.
Now it’s our turn to process, analyze and integrate these suggestions into the new release of Timetag. We’re excited to get started. Stay tuned for our next update!