Bolasalju's WooCommerce Story

In this post I want to share our story released a subscription and membership system to provide an investment education and research services on Bolasalju.com using WooCommerce platform. This is a part of my entry for WooConf 2017 Golden Ticket Competition.


Bolasalju Story

Bolasalju.com is a website I create since 2010 where I shared toughts on my stock investing activities. At first it was published under anonymity. The first plan, I just want to make notes on my stock transactions. Or why this stock interesting, why I bought them, why I sold them, and so on. I make notes on that blog because I want to have records on my investing activities. Having some records, I was expecting to be able to look that later, making evaluation where I made some mistakes, or whether I make a good investing decisions.

Stock investing was a new thing to me, since I worked as programmer and designer. I learned stock investing seriously since 2007, and later since 2008 I committed to investing method called value investing. According to Wikipedia, "value investing is an investment paradigm which generally involves buying securities that appear underpriced by some form of fundamental analysis."

Okay back to the story. I published some investment education and research articles there. It was beyond just a personal notes on my investing activities. Bolasalju attracted some loyal readers since 2011. They shared comments and appreciations that they learn many investing insights and got investing knowledge from Bolasalju. Some even say they produce quite good profits by following some of my stock stories on that blog. If you asked, I recorded 651% returns rate compared to 108% for Indonesian stock index, for 7 years performance. Not bad for a starter, right?

Starting 2015, I reveal my anonymity and decide it was time to make this publication a serious business. Bolasalju has been acknowledged as one of serious value investing blog in Indonesia. By 2016, Indonesia currently have about half million stock investors, compared to 170 million adults. I believe Bolasalju could have a chance to become a site that provides education, researches, and data for helping Indonesian investors to success.

But I have other work. I let Bolasalju as my side project before committing some serious effort and put some investment on it.

September 2016 was a turning point. After working freelancing for 10 years. I believe it's a right time to pursue other endeavour. I worked hard to publishing new posts and more stock researches on Bolasalju. By late 2016, Bolasalju published 64 new posts. By February 2017, it published more 41 articles.

The business model for Bolasalju is simple: it provides education, research, and data for investors in Indonesia. Some education articles will be free (as it is now), the others will be a paid services/products.

Education materials ranging from free articles, protected articles, and digital/real products (e-books and later a real book). Researches will be published in the form of restricted contents and digital publications. Data will be available for subscribers.

Our WooCommerce Story

By March 2017, after gaining back old visitors and new readers, I think Bolasalju was ready for a prime time. It was time to decide an ecommerce platform for Bolasalju.

Not long consideration, I decide WooCommerce is a good choice because Bolasalju already runs on WordPress. Knowing that WooCommerce has been acquired by the same guy that build WordPress, I think rest assured that Bolasalju will be supported in the long run.

We currently building a custom system using Ruby on Rails for managing stocks data. We feel the data service will be a future business, since it also takes a lot of time to improve them. We are now focusing on education and research, since it's already established there and it was quick to deliver. Making a full all-in-one Ruby on Rails system for ecommerce/membership could takes a lot of work, since I worked on this by myself right now. I felt it was not ideal to make a quick turn around and delivery. We decide to think later about integration between WooCommerce and Rails, I believe it could be done.

After knowing our business model and how to achieve them. We looked for a solution on WooCommerce platform to solve the problem for delivering Bolasalju's business model to customers in tightly deadline. Not long, We bought the WooCommerce Membership Bundle at March 20, 2017. We decided to use WooCommerce Subscriptions and Membership (all valued $348). We could use Name Your Price and Subscription Downloads extension (valued $98) for some future needs. The bundle provides all extensions we need, and it was discounted about $147 (in respect to extension we may need), if purchased separately. Value investor loves discount, right? It gives additional extension and themes as bonus. It provides 12 Storefront's child themes (each valued $39). We may not use them right now because Bolasalju already using other theme at that time.

The decision for using WooCommerce solutions was an easy choice. First, again, it makes us rest assured that Bolasalju will be supported in the long run. Second, WooCommerce Subscriptions and Membership Bundle solves our problem to provide the subscription and membership solution so we can launch our education and research services in timely manner. We launched the service on Bolasalju at April 20, 2017 (Psst, it was my wife birthday, it's a surprise present for her!).

We have released an e-book, a basic investment education for common people, it's title "Cerdas Berinvestasi". We are preparing to write our next value investing book for serious stock investor. We have launched an annual subscription service for users to be able to access our investment researches and exclusive contents. We just released a private tutor and consultation service yesterday. We have a couple services and products on our plan.

By the time I write this, we have returned our initial investment for Bolasalju. We still have a hard path to make sure Bolasalju become a sustainable business. We expect Bolasalju to be a trusted and successful education, research, and data provider for Indonesian investor. It will be long journey for us, but I believe we are on the right track with WooCommerce.

Our WooCommerce Build

Plugins:

  • WooCommerce by Automattic – 3.0.7
  • WooCommerce Memberships by SkyVerge – 1.8.4
  • WooCommerce Name Your Price by Kathy Darling – 2.5.5
  • WooCommerce Subscription Downloads by WooCommerce – 1.1.6
  • WooCommerce Subscriptions by Prospress Inc. – 2.2.7
  • WooCommerce Helper by WooCommerce – 1.7.2
  • WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration by WooCommerce – 1.4.2
  • Facebook for WooCommerce by Faceebook - 1.3.1
  • Genesis Connect for WooCommerce by StudioPress – 0.9.9

Current Theme:

  • Bolasalju, by LokaLab - 0.7.1.9 - LokaLab is a new development studio also founded by myself.

The theme was a StudioPress's Genesis child theme, created and modified by myself based on Genesis Sample theme. The homepage is a custom made layout, delivered via widget based container so I can easily put and change its contents quickly. The theme is simple and clean. It works!

Thanks for reading. May the Woo force be with you!

Big Decisions

It seems I have to make a lot of important decisions this year. Here I'll share the first three decisions:

  • Closes axinside.com. The idea looked interesting when it was started. But as my focus changes, priorities have to be adjusted. And here's the decision. I let the domain expired yesterday.
  • Making a content subscription scheme for Bolasalju. Some categories like research, stock analysis, and new exclusive articles on this site are now protected. Reader have to buy a yearly subscription to be able to read them. Hopefully this experiment provides a solution for me and readers so that Bolasalju can produce quality content and still get support to do it. We also launched promotions for this May.
  • Launched my first book (e-book).

More projects to come this year, hopefully.

axinside

My interest and passion to wireframing world began when I worked on a small wireframe project for this particular U.S. company. The task was to make registration process flow for their huge member base more easier and more efficient. It was March 2007. I was paid $1,500 for finishing that project.

Axure 4 First Project

Since worked on that project, I learned a new software for doing wireframe project, it called Axure. It was Axure 4.4. And the rest is history.

Today... I am proudly announce a site with this statement:

It aims to be the resources for wireframing and prototyping topic, especially for Axure software, and user experience and information in general.

It's called axinside.com.

Axinside, Aug 20

I have the idea for this site since early this year, then I bought the domain on March 22. I tried to build some basic foundation for the site: CMS—which finally using Jekyll, a bit premade design with little customization, and setting up and managing hosting stuff. Later it was getting delayed due something here, project this, that travel, and so on, so on.

When Axure announced that they are about to launch new Axure RP version 8 last June, I decided that was the time I have to focus on this thing, seriously. So here we go.

Yesterday I published my first long post, about my first impressions of Axure RP Pro 8 Beta.

Wish me luck.

Journaling

I kept few diaries way back since my high school. Apparentley I have no success even tough I desired to do more with them. When digital lifestyle came into my life since 1997, this journaling habit of me getting much worse.

Until the last three or five years ago, I started to begin to love the journaling activity. I put some serious efforts to make journaling into my daily life.

I really glad to have diaries when I read some old records from our family travel to Thailand at 2013, or some notes around our experiences on moving to this place which we agreed to call it home, or some notes of my second daughter's birth.

There were some interesting things to look back and I think we can refer to the notes more to make some future travels, future life events, more enjoyable.

Journal makes me realize that I am human. I feel this journaling habit keeps me sane, it makes me feel more closer to myself by knowing how at certain time doing or planning something, or what I didn't do, or how I failed, or how I succeed at some things.

With repetitive tasks programmed to our life every day, the way journaling enabled me to feel this thing is extraordinary. Love, memories, and experiences. These are what I look for when I grab the pen and staring down to the clean page on my desk. And I really love that feeling to really write again, with hand, with pen, in a sheet of paper.


There are various ways to make journal, either via analog notebook (ala moleskine, but cheaper price), or using digital methods. I've tried some of them, but to be honest, I think my rate of success is decent. Some of my favorite journaling apps are iA Writer app, Notes app, Evernote, and Day One app (only trying the iOS version, got it free).

Today I find a journaling method called Bullet Journal. This framework seems workable and promising. This framework offers a way to jot down tasks, notes, and events methodically easy. This framework providing a way for us to record and look back our records through various indexes, future reminders, all the way, I believe, just enough for making daily, weekly, monthly log, and yearly log.

Actually I've tried some methods like this, such as: separating some entries in my journal for working stuffs, family, notes, etc. And then I also tried to reschedule some list to other days, or a way to look how long I managed to do something, or how's my performance for certain times. I also tried to make some signifiers and reminder to certain date. But, due to some lack of disciplines or not consistent process, then I easily get lost. I'm sure I will try this framework and see what comes next. This makes journaling even more useful.

Developing iOS 8 Apps with Swift 

I am late into Swift—the new programming language for developing Apple Apps. I've read debates about it, yeah, those praising vs those who complained. Since I still busy working on other project, I'm waiting.

I'm very excited now I can learn it, for free, from Stanford's Developing iOS 8 with Swift course on iTunes U. It currently on Lecture 3, so it's best time to hop on.

Apple WatchKit 

Apple released WatchKit:

WatchKit apps have two parts: A WatchKit extension that runs on iPhone and a set of user interface resources that are installed on Apple Watch. When your app is launched on Apple Watch, the WatchKit extension on iPhone runs in the background to update the user interface and respond to user interactions. WatchKit provides three opportunities to extend your iPhone app to Apple Watch: WatchKit apps, Glances, and actionable notifications.

See also, Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines.

A whole new toy.

Using Github to Learn Real-World Code Programming Tricks 

Justin Weiss:

When you want to go beyond the documentation and see real-world uses of a library or feature, use GitHub’s code search.

For example, say I just read the Rails guide on Conditional GET Support. I feel like I understand it, but I want to see some more examples before I use it for real.

I could hop onto GitHub search, and look for "if stale?":

Why I never think of this before? Nice trick.

Old Masters 

John D. Rockefeller in his 80s was known to his business associates as a crazy old man possessed by the stubborn and ferocious will to know why the world wags and what wags it, less interested in money than in the solving of a problem in geography or corporate combination. By sources reliably informed I'm told that Warren Buffett, 84, and Rupert Murdoch, 83, never quit asking questions.

Men and women, at old ages—from author, filmmaker, actor, actress, artist, painter, singer, drummer, runner, fund manager, lawyer, senator, naturalist, illustrator, and architect—all are at their good time.

Interviews are accompanied by an essay by Lewis Lapham, himself on the cusp of 80.

(via Kottke)

Bad UX?

I recently have an opportunity designing wireframes for a mobile commerce site. I communicated through a project manager for this work. In the final review of the project, I got an email like this:

...this is bad UX for add to cart functionality, the user should stay on products page when he taps on add to cart, and when he is done he should click on cart icon to go to cart.

I shocked. I'm not complaining the tone of her message. It's just business as usual. I care more about the thing we discussed, how's a bad UX? I raised my concern because I felt it was interesting case to be explored.

UX/UI Decision

I hope we agreed to conclusion that a very very bad UX decision, is definitely bad. Bad UX is bad. You know it is a bad UX when it certainly, is bad.

But we're here to discuss other case. What about the case above? A shopping cart workflows. May be figures below can explain better.

Many ways to shopping cart
Many Ways to Shopping Cart

While viewing the product page, after he taps "add to cart" icon, these could happened next:

  • Interaction A, user brought to shopping cart page showing the product has been added, and presented with the summary of the order.
  • Interaction B, a flash message showed that "the product has been added to cart". The flash message disappeared after a while. User continue shopping in the same page.

Priority

I disagree if my solution is said to be bad UX decision. I think the final decision on the UX part should be about client's priority.

Actually the flow pattern I use is so common. Amazon, Apple, eBay, and many more you can name it, many sites using this pattern. The pattern is so easy to understand. The focus of this flow is giving user current state of their order by showing products in their shopping cart, and tells customer how much money they have to pay.

I agree the other solution seems more modern, more dynamic, or could we say flashy? But, is it appropriate? Does it add more value to the shopping experience? Could it add more revenue opportunity to client? I think the interaction of "add then continue browsing" seems appropriate for cheap merchandise, in the believe that users could purchase more items to make additional revenues. So, I make my final remark, for the client which happens to be an eyeglasses retailer, which sells mid-range price merchandises, I believe the pattern is more to my solution.

Here I think some other things that taken into consideration before making appropriate add-to-cart UX decision:

  • what's the expected shopping experiences?
  • focus on more shopping items?
  • focus on quick shopping turn around?
  • trends on buying pattern also could affect this decision, whether user buy more products, or user average buying is no more one item per purchase (such for luxury items).

Priority is the key.

Admire someone? Write them an email, you might be surprised 

This isn’t a unique story, either. Before I started working at Basecamp, I would occasionally email Jason – just to say hello and to thank him and the team for Basecamp. Eventually those individual emails turned into conversations. And those conversations ultimately turned into my dream job.

Our friend and current CEO of Highrise, Nate Kontny, has written about a similar story. He’s cold-emailed hundreds of people over the years. And while most have been ignored, some have started some really important conversations (like the one that led him to become the CEO of Highrise!).

Even DHH did that:

Around the same time I wrote @martinfowler and asked if I could redo the PoEAA online diagrams using OmniGraffle (http://t.co/LmEGqYxjgy). — DHH (@dhh) October 15, 2014

I sent few thank you note emails to open-source libraries authors, tough without ever getting any returns yet. But I am happy to sent those emails because I felt obligated to do so, they helped us a lot. But I never send emails just like this. Reminds us that we are human.