Focus for May
I wrote last month:
We're starting May with another look at our email templates. This will include some small improvements to the weekly newsletter template to make it more consistent with the website and optimizing the use of space. We don't currently have a "welcome email" that goes out to all new subscribers. As we implemented our customized confirm flow last month, we will also be designing a welcome email to highlight some initial content before you receive your first newsletter. Our first major research article will also be published in May. This is a long-form piece that we're creating a customized design for, similar to the "long reads" you might be familiar with on other sites.
So how did we do?
Updated newsletter email template
We have now settled on the final design changes to our weekly email template. These changes slim down the padding and spacing and also make use of consistent glyphs to represent the separate "Interesting Tools" and "New betas" sections. For example, we're now using the same beta glyph on Beta Console as well as in the newsletter, rather than emoji.
We spend a lot of time working on design and consistency because we believe attention to detail is an important marker of quality. Good UX has not always been a feature of developer tools, but over the last decade design has become more and more important. Today, everyone expects the same level of experience in their developer, infrastructure, and enterprise products that they have from their consumer devices. We're not building complex software ourselves, but where we do have a UX, we want it to be polished.
There are a few minor tweaks still remaining to tidy up the email but it is now close it to its final state. Our cultural value of simplicity really applies here.
All new subscribers now receive a welcome email containing three interesting links to the most popular tools over the last few months, and to some of our top developer interviews. This is important because it gives a sense for what they can expect each week.
Inclusion in this email is a prime spot because it goes out to every subscriber - we plan to review the tools each month to keep them fresh. We don't track open rates but the click rate is around 25% compared to an industry average of 0.8% (as reported by Mailchimp). This shows the high level of engagement we're seeing from our subscribers.
We didn't quite manage to publish our first research article in May. We had hoped to publish it this week, but with public holidays in the UK and US, we decided to push it back a week. This has allowed us to spend more time polishing the design and to build out components that can be reused across the site. We set our internal deadlines to ensure we have something to aim for, but have no problem pushing things back if more time is needed.
Hiring a technical writer
Founded in Jan 2021, Console is still an early-stage startup. Our goal is to be the independent voice that developers trust to help them discover the best and most interesting tools. We're a team of three working full time but there is always more to do.
We're hiring for a technical writer to join our team to help us evaluate developer tools both for the weekly email newsletter and as we expand our website. This role will involve tracking the software industry, playing with new tools and technologies, then writing about your experience.
We started advertising for this role about a week ago and have several candidates under consideration. We've tried to be very transparent about what the role will involve, the skills required, and how we will run the hiring process. However, I am always amazed at how few people read the description!
If I was applying to a job where I might be spending a significant part of my day, I would want to take my time to understand everything. Our application instructions are quite simple - email us an example review of a tool you've been playing with using the same format as our weekly email - yet we've received multiple applications where people just fire off their CV.
If you're interested in writing for Console (and will read the full job description), please consider applying! We're hiring a minimum 1 day per week but will also consider candidates looking for full-time employment. You can work entirely remotely (from anywhere), entirely in our Central London office, or a hybrid.
Focus for June
As mentioned above, this month we'll be publishing our first research article. We'll then continue our focus on the website by starting work on a tools archive. We've been asked multiple times about tools we have featured in the past, so are planning to release browsable directory on our website. The design work will start in June but we may not finish the implementation this month.