Last night I was going through some old files and came across one of the very early versions of the AirShare website. It was not dissimilar to the early versions of Amazon, ‘The’ Facebok, and what not. After some amusement and shame, I took it upon myself to collate the following iterations of the website. So this article annotates the progression of the AirShare Website since the beginning. After all, we are a web-based platform and this is the primary means of how the business operates. So let’s get stuck in!
Shortly after the conceptualization of AirShare, Gauranga and I started teaching ourselves code. We began with html and css – the 2 basic programming languages required to put something on the interwebz. We endeavoured to make a pitch for an accelerator, and I was hell-bent on providing some sort of demonstration of how the ‘product’ worked. So I had 2 days to make a website, and very little experience or knowledge on doing exactly that. So with each painstaking detail, the first ‘prototype’ was born. A lackluster web page with very little functionality and criminally bad code. I was so proud.
We knew that getting a website like this to actually work would be a timely process, so a longform landing page was made with some info about what we were working on and little ‘subscribe to newsletter’ call-to-actions. This was technically the first version of the AirShare website which people could browse from their phone or computer. Honestly, it was awful to look at.
We kept this one up for a while we worked toward having a red-hot platform with back-end functionality through the wazoo. We had our sights on a super clean and easy user experience like AirBNB. That is cool and all, but at this point we’d done next to no proof of concept or research. It got to a point where we realised if we wanted a platform like that, either we’d have to improve our programming skills at least 100x, or pay big bucks. Which is why we settled for a nice little upgrade of the landing page.
I had some fun with this one. It’s not like we were getting loads of traffic to the website, however we were starting to gather data and opinions from people in the industry and meeting with charter companies etc. We put the development of the ‘superior platform’ on the backburner and started working toward more tangible goals. There is the theory that when you begin any arbitrary venture, create a minimum viable product – even if it’s a turd that solves the problem you want to fix. Just put it out, gather insights, and flex incrementally. We could’ve wasted over a year continuing with the development existing development and no useful data.
So through these conversations, a helicopter tour company informed us of problems they were having. Within a handful of days, we were able to put together our MVP (minimum viable product) and was offering seats on underutilised choppers and dead legs through Brisbane. As a result, we secured our first formal partnership in them!
About a month went by and we were starting to see the limitations of the platform we had. Processes were slow and functions were limiting – all the while we still had no sales. So while small iterations of what we had were helpful, we decided a complete overhaul of the platform was necessary.
It was late October when we decided to publish the ‘new and improved’ website: AirShare 2.0 – the one that exists today. I’m glad we did it, and within 2 days of going live we made our first sale. From that point onward, AirShare started to see developments in requests for joy flights. The phone started ringing and people were making bookings.
As with anything, increases in interactions and time will expose inefficiencies. Over the last few months, we have started to see limitations where programming should take some of the heavy lifting. Processes where monotonous repeatable tasks could be automated. Some a quick fix – some not so quick. But as with everything, there are things that can be done to improve even the current platform.
We are currently in discussions and early-stage planning of the AirShare 3.0 platform. As we gain more web traffic, it’s imperative to use the best possible systems to facilitate scheduling and engagement when dealing with a high number of customers. After all, this is now the longest time we’ve kept a particular ‘version’ of a website. We’re getting antsy and are very keen to fix all the issues we’ve been unable to resolve thus far. Whether the update comes sooner or later, I could not say – however feel free to follow us on Facebook or Instagram. We will post all important AirShare news on these platforms, on top of the AirShare Newsletter.
We’ve recently started working hard on our search result performance. It’s something which has always been on our mind as an overarching goal to improve, however it has really come to the forefront since the beginning of 2019. Many modern businesses rely heavily on having tip-top SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The ultimate goal of being #1 on a given Google Search query is what allows many websites to survive. So for an online business like AirShare, we figure it’s really about time we pull our finger out and get working on this.
Anyone who has done research on SEO knows how much of an imperfect science it is. There is no secret weapon or overnight fix that shoots you to the top, however it’s always worthwhile to address the obvious indicators. We’ve massively de-cluttered and have been able to increase loading speeds by up to 4x. We’re working on better technical practices and creating content (like this blog, for example)! It seems to have paid off, and we are noticing better search engine results, on top of a better user experience.
As always, we value all feedback we get in relation to how people interact with our website. We recently added a pink tab on the right hand side of the website where page visitors can provide any feedback. Whether you’ve encountered a problem with the website or just have general ideas, we’d love to hear them.
It’s been fun revisiting some of the old projects throughout 2018. I’m sure that in 5 or 10 years I can look back at this and laugh moreso. Part of the reason I enjoy journaling a blog is so I can look back in x years time and relish in the PROGRESS!!