Darren Nix

Ironman, poker player, post-apocalyptic lit fan, startup founder.

Read this first

Improving our team health one question at a time

Indeed Assessments is primarily a remote team and that makes it harder to keep a pulse on how the team is feeling. Our team of software engineers and IO psychologists is 40 people strong and only 15 of those sit in one of Indeed’s offices in Austin, SF, Seattle, and NY. We get together twice a year for a full team offsite and each subteam gets together in Austin once a quarter, but day to day it’s harder to get those signals we take for granted to tell us if the team’s feeling energized, upset, happy, or bored.

Six months ago, I decided to start doing periodic team surveys. Having been the recipient of many long, boring surveys that I ignored, I wanted to keep the surveys short. Bonus credit if they ran on an automatic schedule so that I wouldn’t have to remember to send them.

 Solution

We found TinyPulse. It queues up a single question per week like “How well are you recognized...

Continue reading →


Ironman Vichy 2018 Race Report

 Thinking about starting to train

In 2016, I finished my first Ironman in Cozumel with a finish time of 11:43. I took all of 2017 off from training to focus on Interviewed so by Christmas I was itching to start training again. When Lanae and Danny brought up registering for Ironman Vichy it was an easy sell.

With 8 months to go until race day, I figured I’d wait until February and then start a serious training plan. Nope… when people asked how training was going, my guilty response was “I’m easing back into it.”

 Actually training

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.04.15 PM.png

On May 1 it hit me: I had less than 4 months until race day, so I finally got off my ass. The plan was to average 10 hours a week for the next four months and I came pretty close:

Month 2016 Cozumel 2018 Vichy
T-4 18 28
T-3 40 32
T-2 34 54
T-1 28 33
Total 120 147

My full-year training stats were also pretty similar except for...

Continue reading →


The mobile/AMP version of websites on desktop are so much better

Here’s what the regular (cluttered) desktop version of Techcrunch looks like:

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.11.49 PM.png

And here’s the AMP version (note URL):

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.11.43 PM.png

I run aggressive ad blockers but there’s still a lot of cruft on most sites… I would love for sites to return to the minimal simplicity (on desktop) that they’re forced to provide for mobile with AMP.

View →


My approach to triathlon training

The race I’m training for, an Ironman, consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. Pros will average around 9 hours and 20 minutes to the finish line, but I’m an age group triathlete. That means that just finishing the race is often enough; finishing in the top third of my age group would be a great day.
cropped37-208x300.jpg
During each race, I try to ignore the hundreds of younger and fitter racers flying by. I’m just trying to keep up with the other guys in M30-34; you can tell who they are by the color-coded swim caps and the conspicuous 30-something numbers written on their calves in magic marker. For us, the race will last a little over 12 hours, during which time we will burn 8,000 calories and eat 4,000 calories of Clif Bar, Hammer Gels, Perpetuem liquid nutrition, bananas, potatoes, oranges, Gatorade’s, and flat Cokes — whatever our stomachs will tolerate.

My first step...

Continue reading →


Our homegrown A/B testing framework at 42Floors

Six months ago we created a homegrown A/B testing framework wherein we randomize traffic between three servers running different branches of our codebase.  Conversion rate has since increased 251%.

Original article published here: Using split testing for office space search

My goal in sharing our results is to encourage you to take bigger risks with
your A/B testing. Please treat our particular designs with skepticism; the UX
that worked for us probably won’t work for you.

 The original

As a search engine for commercial real estate, our site has only one goal: for
visitors to find at least one office space that they
like enough to contact.

Version 1

Version 1

So, the simplest measure of our success rate (our conversion rate) is the
number of visitors who contact a space divided by the total number of
visitors.  A contact is any phone call, email, or web-based tour request.  For
the sake of...

Continue reading →


How to choose the optimal domain name using Adwords split testing

Choosing a new domain is usually a gut-driven decision. Maybe you’ll spend a few hours getting domain suggestions, check out a few Sedo auctions, build a shortlist, ask some coworkers for opinions, then pick one and hope for the best.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Last week I wrote about how running a domain split testing experiment for my RV rental weekend project led me to a domain that performed 127% better than my personal favorite. Several readers asked for more details about the methodology so I’ve described it in detail below.

 Methodology

What we’re going to do is set up several domains, write identical ads on Google AdWords, and then measure click through rates.

It’s important to test domains that are significantly different from each other. For example, if you were testing FriedChicken.io vs FriedChicken.co, you’d expect to need a very, very large pool of data before...

Continue reading →


Going to work from home today… our office is too loud

Repost of original at 42floors

We’re about to sign a lease on a new office space for 42Floors. The architect suggested this floor plan. It looks great… unless you code.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-25-at-3.37.30-PM-1024x549.png

Our current office is a 3,000 sqft 2-story townhouse with an open layout. The first floor is engineering with customer service and ops on the second floor. Even though everybody tries their best to take phone calls outside and move conversations to a conference room, it’s gotten so busy around here that the flow of ”Going to WFH today so I can get shit done” emails has become almost daily — myself included.

I’ve installed a white noise machine under my desk and a lot of us wear active noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones, but it’s still hard to focus. It’s not just the noise… there’s the steady stream of office commotion happening just over the top of every monitor.

Given that context, when I saw this open...

Continue reading →


She’s learning to code by building a site a day. Friday was day 180.

“Hacker News is going to love you,” was the first thing I said when Jennifer Dewalt told me about her plan to leave the art world and become a coder by building a web site every day for six months straight.

HN did indeed love her, doing its best to crash her single AWS server when she posted on Day 115. Apparently the Russians love her even more, though – Habrahabr.ru (think Slashdot in Cyrillic) edged out HN + Reddit and tossed in 443 Facebook friend requests from guys named Vladimir, too. All told, she pulled in 2,140,000 pageviews in a week.

Despite being something of an online celebrity, Jen is quite the opposite of attention seeking – she’s shy and speaks softly and thoughtfully. At close to six feet tall with a sporty pixie cut, she looks like a hybrid of a typical programmer and a college volleyball player (which she was).

I’ll confess to being skeptical about her...

Continue reading →


You’re not anonymous. I know your name, email, and company.

This is a repost of my original post at 42Floors.

Sumit Suman recently visited a site, did not sign up for anything, did not connect via social media, but got a personal email from the site the next day.

Here’s how they did it.

I’ve learned that there is a “website intelligence” network that tracks form submissions across their customer network. So, if a visitors fills out a form on Site A with their name and email, Site B knows their name and email too as soon as they land oan the site.

It all started 2 weeks ago when I got a promotional email (anonymized to avoid promotion) offering to

discretely integrate with your existing web site to identify visitors to your website.

I get B2B marketing emails all the time but what caught my eye was the inclusion of a report snapshot for 42Floors.com showing names, companies, and emails of site visitors and the information seemed plausible.
...

Continue reading →


RPGs need an auto-scaling off switch

TLDR… Single-player RPG games should include an Auto-Leveling off-switch. Instead of scaling up or down to match my character, a level 35 dungeon would stay at level 35 whether I’m level 15 or 38. This would make certain bosses impossible, which would motivate me to do side quests to level up, which would make the game longer and extend the fun. Single person RPGs would feel more like World of Warcraft where level 60 elites don’t just magically nerf themselves so that my level 15 gnome can take them on.

I just finished my second run-through of Skyrim. It’s a great game just like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Fallout 3 but these games all have the same problems:

A) too short

B) too easy (even on the hardest difficulty)

I understand why the developers nerfed these RPGs – most gamers don’t want to spend 200 hours and suffer frequent deaths along the way and occasionally get stuck...

Continue reading →