A little more than two years ago, after subpar experiences with other online tools, I set out to make my own online baby pool application. I blogged* about my experience with the competitor's interfaces and created my own in a google form/survey as a proof of concept. Brainstorming with talented friends we hatched a name: "Baby Bookie" — it was perfect!
As I sat back down at my desk and attempted to research the domain name, I found the entire idea executed with stunning quality and ease of use. I was so impressed I wrote an email**:
Quickly replied to by "Co-Founder / CEO Brian Williams" (Yes, I did get permission to share this email) I shortly thereafter found out about Pointless Corp., Viget, and eventually met some great folks that do great work. I also learned the site was built in only a weekend — which to this day has blown me away.
Baby Bookie is special to me, not because I spent the sleepless*** nights making a fine product — but because it served a need for me and others, and it brought me here to Viget. So many feature ideas I had years ago were recalled and pitched, and when time allowed, I recently took a lead attempting to improve the application and setting our sights on a redesign of sorts.
And I'm very excited to announce that it's here [insert birth joke here]. A few highlights:
Knowing the original Baby Bookie was created in only a weekend, this was no two day task. So working with Jason, Billy, Mindy, and Chris we crafted a responsive layout that was flexible for the new features we had planned. The result is an experience absent of the "pinch and zoom" of many of our competitors — and one we are quite happy with.
When looking at user behavior, we found that many pools were abandoned. In addition to some simple UI changes, we created a "Pool Godparents" feature where users can assign a "back-up" admin to assist in managing the pool. New parents like Ryan (lead Baby Bookie Developer) and Khanh (Baby Bookie Fan and Office Manager Extraordinare) thought this was a particularly helpful if you are busy with the (new) demands of parenthood, but would love for a grandmother, best friend or uncle to help out in completing the pool and crowning a pool winner.
Baby Bookie users have been filling out our famous feedback form and requesting this feature for at least a year. Now you can provide the parents with some written support, or brag about your bet — anything you want to type with our new commenting functionality.
Perhaps my favorite feature (and not because the example image is my [now 3 month old] son Winston) is the update to the pool announcement page. All too often nowadays we see informal (within the hour) birth announcements via Facebook and Twitter, and we thought to provide our users with a quick way to do the same with a simple, elegant, and sharable design.
These are just a few of the improvements and features that the team thought through over the past 3 months. A team**** of (mostly) parents helped raise this baby, and we're excited to share it with the world and get feedback from our users as we continue to improve and grow the application.
* No one reads my blog, really.
** Note: using "dope" in an email will eventually get you a new job.