My case for a 'more intuitive' BT

After a few restarts, I finally got moving and become productive through the afternoon and evening.  


Confirming what bugs are being worked on and have a new bug ticket for the programmers.  The next several days should take care of the 'medium' issues people are still having.  Race and race report stuff, forum stuff, etc.  Of course nutrition logging, that will be online soon...get rid of those errors.

I started redoing some of the 'old' tutorials on using various things.  The main intent of the new site was to reduce the dependance of 'tutorials' to do something.  It should be intuitive with the interface.  Of course this means retraining current BT'ers on how to do things...many will agree that 'it's harder'...I would think due to being so used to the old way...and several things may take an extra click...but is the new design more 'intuitive'?  That is the MAIN reason behind the 'training log' dropdown.  THAT is intuitive.  A NEW user can easily figure out where things are at without resorting to a tutorial.  Many of our things were buried in a users control panel (goals, route manager, etc).  Getting to an imported training plan was constantly a PITA for new users and I got the support email to prove it.  That is why we uber simplified it:  Upload, My Log, My Training Plan, My Progress, etc.  You can't miss it.

I fully realize there is going to be attrition from this redesign.  People are people, some people are patient, some people are not.  But for those that are still understandably irritated and on-the-fence...

Get to know me first...

If anybody knows me, I'm not just going to sit on my @ss with broken stuff and rightly irritable users.  Of course not.  It's going to get fixed, and SOON.  I answer all the support email.  Of course it would be in my best interest to fix everything as soon as a I can so I have less email. ;)  Who likes that stuff anyways?

We just finished going live with the first ever redesign of 10 years of prior work.  THAT'S RIGHT - 10 YEARS OF PRIOR CODE.  (Yes, it's our 10 year anniversary next month).  In less than a week, the uploader is up (and should be timestamping workouts correctly), many of the forum issues and timeouts are taken care of.  The training log is fully usable with the exception of some nutrition bugs that we should be updating any day.  Nothing really wrong with the articles, homepage, or races (except for some race report issues that don't really affect posting). 


If I was a betting man, I would bet-the-farm that nobody else could have pulled what we did off in the amount of time we did.  We are a DIVERSE site right?  Who in the world has a more in-depth race listing+reports+race log?  Nobody.  Our triathlon training log is at the top of the list, depending on what type of user you are.  And not-to-mention a very busy forum at the top of the list.  We also have training plans, custom plans, etc.  And all of those things are socially linked.  THAT IS A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF CODE.  Really think about it.  Many sites only focus on one or two of those at the most.  We do them all, pretty damn good.  And to totally redesign and only be crippled in some respects for a half week (uploads) then starting-to-hum with some frequent sputters a week later.  THAT'S GOOD. THAT'S EXCEPTIONAL especially given the size of our team and what we had to do.

Don't get me wrong, there are still several, several things that need optimized and still several, more minor bugs and annoyances to find and to improve speed (I did good on the friends didn't I?  And that is still not even complete).  It's analogous to the friends, it's your good, patient feedback that worked and created something 'maybe even better'.

We have come a long way in a week.  In another week we will just about be 'there'.  End of next  It's going to be awesome.  And it's never a 'done-deal'...I'm always accepting of criticism and ideas and will be when all of this is 'complete'.  Because it's never really 'complete.'

Trust in your caretaker.  Help me understand the remaining issues.  Be part of the solution by given me details and to give me your thoughts - knowing that I can't fix something immediately.  Because like the friends-page revisions based on user wouldn't want to miss 'something better' would you?

Wiped out.

The last 6 days caught up with me.  


Worked on several forum 'annoyances'...getting some behavior back to normal.  We also worked on finishing version 1.1 of the 'Friends' page. 

We will be getting back to optimizing and debugging the nutrition log.  We had to divert to friends.  It's ironic, I checked the stats and right before the redesign, the nutrition log was barely used....for good reason.  Now that access is front and center in the navigation and it's suddenly getting a lot of play - which is ultimately good feedback.  Almost there.

  • 20m 50s
  • 1000.00 yards
  • 02m 05s /100 yards

4x250 on 6'
10' hot tub

  • Calories out: 2752 From lifestyle:2565, From activities:187
  • 20m
  • -----
  • -----

Just a quick workout. Time is a little short at the moment.


Another day in the trenches.  We're getting better.  Programmers and I only went to bed around 12/1 last night.

Was Axteraa right in thinking I was nuts in going live?  I still would disagree, even given the last, brutal 72 hours.

A little retrospective:  Up until now, BT had 10 years of bolt on-code.  The core always stayed the same, we never broke much when 'adding on' a new feature.  It was all carefully balanced, intertwined and it worked.  That code is 10 years old, there were many technical reasons to migrate some of our stuff to .NET, doing interopt stuff (not that I understand), etc.  To continue for another 10 years, we also had to update our core to make developing new features faster, etc

The majority of the bugs we are dealing with were fine on our dev2 server.  We were actually testing the training log for a month a least and worked out many, many things.  But as we found out, going to live 'just introduces things'.  And for technical reasons, we couldn't even test the Garmin functionality on the dev2 site.  We had to cross our fingers.

I knew that there were several, unoptimized items...BT blogger (that page was always a dog anyway), the nutrition log, possibly the friends page.  I also knew that by increasing the number of testers from 24 to 'several thousand' per day, we are going to find a lot more stuff.

A user indicated that 'we should have gotten another group of beta testers' and tested for more months.  I disagree.  It wouldn't have helped 'that much'.  They found the main bugs.  Their time was donated...there is only so much time people have.  I am grateful for the time they gave.  Prolonging it wouldn't have helped much more.

SURE, I knew several pages (nutrition, friends, etc) weren't 'ready for prime time' but that is JUST IT...what better way to REALLY improve upon a feature without a little FORCED EVOLUTION? Yeah, it sucks that it may be buggy for several days...but you will get a much better product then just me and a few eager beta testers trying to make it perfect.  What we get is a lot more ideas AND ESPECIALLY I get to 'really learn' how users use a particular item.  Take the Friends page. I have learned a great deal on how exactly that page is used by members, what they love about it.  I didn't have that information before.  Sure, I was very open in the redesign at the beginning, taking polls, showing screenshots, accepting comments (Whizz convinced me to put the dashboard back)...but there were only a few handfuls of people that took the time at that early stage to offer feedback.  I went on the information I had at the time.

So dumping on you a site that was, I would say, 95% complete (~80% optimized)...was a risk I took and I would take it again.  At the end of the day, the forums 'worked', the training log (aside from garmin) 'worked', the other pages 'worked' for the most part.  This was the time for the masses to find out all the other lurking bugs that n handful of beta testers with busy lives didn't find.  It was also a time for critical feedback on items (such as friends, nutrition log) so I could really understand how you use them and work on some quick changes so you have the best product once the bugs get worked out.

With ANY site that you took 10 years to add-on code, that you then have to overhaul for the future from the core to the user-interface, there will be A LOT of issues going live that you just won't catch in development.  You would need a team of about 6 programmers at least, running a completely new development live site not on a subdomain, on it's OWN server (not shared with the live site), with mirrored development environments on the servers and local possibly pull this off any better than we did.  That is A LOT of money and resources.  We are not a big company, just a couple of part-time programmers spread out over the country.  Anybody remember the TP upgrade a few years back?  I followed that, more for a learning experience.  Similar website, similar antiquated core and UI that we had.  They were a bigger company at the time, and pulling off their huge redesign had just as many issues, if not more, than what we have had recently.  The outcry was far-reaching as the interface changed even much more than ours.  MMR too.  One of their transformational redesigns left their equipment tracker on the old site and not on the live, beta site that users were defaulted too.  I knew better than to do that.  ;)

I know a portion of you think this was a terrible decision to go live with the bugs we have, but I politely disagree.  Given what we had to do, we pulled it off well and are quickly working out the 'oddities' and bugs that a few dozen eyes weren't ever going to catch, even on a geological time-scale.

Thank you much for your patience.  We are getting there.

  • Calories out: 2790 From lifestyle:2566, From activities:224

Ron's Training Log

 May 2013 
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