Back in the saddle, what’s been going on, and… hire #1 (Week 50)

Matt Webb
Matt Webb
Mar 22, 2019 · 4 min read
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How Job Garden looks today

Hey so the last time I posted here it was week 33, now it’s week five-oh, how come the big pause? 🐻

Well we were blessed with a baby (Hello Stella!) and, well, before she came along I anticipated continuing to build Job Garden at least some of the week.

And, yeah: not happening :)

So that’s been and is continuing to be a ton of fun. But as a family we’ve got our heads above water now, and I started again on JG about a month back.

Let me give you the headlines…

Three things and I’ll save the best for last.


So the crazy thing that happened while I was off was (a) it continued to mostly tick over, so yay automation; and, (b) people were getting in contact with feature requests.

It’s a funny thing, making something that it turns out people want, even though it’s super feature lite. You can figure out what’s valuable to whom, and that guides you about what to build next.

So I wrote down literally everything I’ve been imagining in terms of what I want to do with Job Garden: all the ways to get the right job under the right person’s nose at the right time. And who that’s useful for and why.

And then… we did customer interviews. Or rather, we went to meet some gardeners and took them through our prospective roadmap, and listened and chatted, and now we know where we’re headed for the rest of 2019.

Thank you Sophie at Downing Ventures! Thank you Keji at Connect! We think you’ll be pleased at what’s coming up.

Foundations and a new lick of paint.

Once the roadmap got more concrete, it was pretty clear that all the experiments and proof of concept stuff from 2018 needed to be locked down so more ambitious stuff can be built on top.

That’s pretty much what the last month has been:

  • tightening the screws on how things are stored in the database, and adding things like tests to make development more confident
  • rewriting the web crawler that underpins the whole service with one that is simpler to extend, and has a bunch more headroom to deal with 10x the number of companies
  • taking control of the front end so the webpages aren’t just using default templates now. They have knobs and dials now that we can tweak to iterate on layout and colours
  • building a better development environment so coding the site is simpler and smoother

As part of that the site looks slightly different. See the screenshot at the top of this post. The idea is that it looks almost precisely the same, but now the process of looking and working slightly different every week is easier.

What’s neat is this re-engineering period is gradually wrapping up.

And now features that are on the roadmap that previously looked insurmountable, or I had zero idea how to approach them… well, they’re suddenly looking a bit more tractable.

Hire #1 💥

Okay, this is the biggie. I am super super delighted about this.

The third and final bit of news today is that, after I had looked at the roadmap and realised that there was something pretty interesting and fun to build here, I twigged that it would be good to build it with someone.

Then I thought to myself: who would the exact best person be, in skills and character? Then I went and asked him. And now he’s working on Job Garden. (Along with his other clients, we’re not selfishly hogging him.)

Say hi to Phil Gyford 👋

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Hello Phil!

Phil’s an old friend and we’ve worked together before.

What’s more important is that he’s a supremely competent engineer on both the front- and back-end. He has a considered method and well-articulated perspective both with the code and in regard to what users need—and let me tell you, it is awesome to have a sparring partner when it comes to figuring this stuff out. We overlap a bunch but we’re also pretty complementary in skills and approach, and I’ve seen myself levelling up just in the last few weeks.

I also have a bunch of ambitions for Job Garden that come from my experience of early days of the web, that golden age of the early 2000s. They’re… quirks, perhaps. But they’re opinions I have and things I still want to explore. The web is chock full of old potentialities and they are being made new again. 2019 is an exciting year for the web. Phil and I are of the same vintage. We get on regarding stuff like that.

Check out Phil’s portfolio over at Well-Formed.

Big week.

Hopefully see you back here in not too long.

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