In this special questions-and-answers version of CodePen Radio, we reached out to you, and now we’re going to answer your questions.
1:31 Q: Would you ever consider running a UI competition to redesign the CodePen homepage?
A. Probably not. We’d love to have a great designer on the team to help with design stuff, but it’s not something we’d ask you guys to do. We are taking steps towards some design updates… Keep your eyes open.
5:14 Q: Could you talk about how you use Git? Do you have a Git branching model that you follow?
A: We just use a pretty standard branch model. We have our master, and master can be pushed to production. If we’re working on something new, we cut a branch and merge down from master, and when we’re ready to launch the feature, we merge from master to the new feature branch, and then back to master and push it up. We’re looking at ways to get better, though.
10:00 Q: Which college courses were most helpful for getting you where you are now?
A: Tim liked his C class, but mainly because he met Chris and Ryan Campbell there, and they worked on Wufoo together, which completely changed the course of his life. So not necessarily because of what he learned there, but who he met there.
13:55 Q: Was health insurance a concern when quitting your jobs to work on CodePen full-time?
A: Tim has insurance through his wife, Chris lost his insurance when he left Survey Monkey, but recently got insurance thought the Affordable Health Care act. Alex lost his insurance, but was able to get coverage, mainly for emergencies.
17:47 Q: Will you help me with my website?
A: Yes. Here’s a link to Team Treehouse.
18:13 Q: Was CodePen paying your bills before you quit your jobs, or did you live off your savings? Are you still living off your savings?
A: We were definitely living off our savings and significant others during the transition. We’re starting to get back into normal developer salaries, but it’s been a struggle.
It never really felt risky, because now we all have some pretty great skill sets. We could get great jobs if we needed to.
22:13 Q: Do you ever feel guilty when you aren’t working on CodePen? How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
A: We do feel guilty sometimes. We spend a lot of time working on CodePen, but we try to maintain a healthy work/life balance. We’re in it for the long haul, we’re not trying to build and sell a company. We’re not in our 20’s anymore, we can’t work 100 hour weeks.
25:35 Q: Where did you have the most success when initially getting the word out about CodePen?
A: There are a couple things that worked really well:
- Embeds. Anyone can add a Pen to their website, which brings branding with it.
- CSS-Tricks. Get yourself a Chris Coyier, and have him tweet something.
- Blogging. Do you want to launch a product? First launch a publication and get people interested in what you have to say, then you can put your product in front of them.
30:27 Q: Do you ever disagree about what features you should implement next, or the direct the product needs to take? If so, how do you handle these conflicts? Have you found working remotely from each other hinders communication on these issues?
A: Do we disagree? Not often. We’re pretty good about prioritizing, though. We did a “3 wishes” thing recently, where we all picked three things we wanted to implement, then we ranked our choices by which would most benefit the users.
We do standup meetings online every day, so we discuss new features often. By the time we get around to implementing the features, we’ve discussed them many times.
Would it be easier to communicate if we weren’t working remotely? Maybe. There’s usually a few kinks to work out when we jump on a Google Hangout to chat, which is several times per day. We also get together and hang out in person every quarter, so that helps too.
36:13 Q: Do you find it hard to “turn off”, and not work too may hours in the week? Do you have any strategies for taking time off and not reaching burnout?
A: Rescue Time is an eye opener; it’ll tell you exactly how much time you spend working on your things.
Another thing is to get yourself out of the house, and go to the gym. Team CodePen has decided that personal fitness and health are really important to us. It helps you break up your day and get your mind off tech and other stressful things for awhile.
Get out, get away from your computer.
39:33 Q: Was there ever time where you doubted yourself, or didn’t see the growth you were expecting? How do you stay positive when things don’t go as planned?
A: There’s been moments. When we were building the Team accounts, we practically rewrote the whole site over a period of about 2 months. We spent so much time on that feature.
When we finally launched it, the internet didn’t go wild. It was a little disheartening, but over time, usage picked up and improved. Teams started signing up.
What we learned was that you have to think about the long term. You usually won’t have instant success, you have to work hard to reach it. You have to work everyday to make it happen.
45:02 Q: Are there any plans for user-specific stat pages?
A: We’re looking into it. We may start off with offering simple stats for free, and then add more detailed stats as a pro feature.
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