The CoachAccountable Blog

What's new with the CA platform, tutorials on using it, and customer spotlights.

Archive for Creating CoachAccountable

Delightful Collaboration VIII – Setting Location and Description for Appointments

Here is a great example of where CoachAccountable gets better through me being exposed to a style of doing things other than my own.

The calendar feed of appointments is a lovely thing, allowing both coaches and clients to have appointments [set within CoachAccountable] appear right within their usual calendars (like Google Calendars, iCal, and Outlook).

Beyond the what and when, calendar software aficionados know that it’s handy to have location and descriptive information about a calendar event be right there as well.

For my sake when it comes to coaching appointments there’s nothing to it: “where” is invariably on the phone, and there are no access or dial-in details to speak of, or really anything else–I call them and that’s that.

Liz HeimanBut last Thursday I had a great call with Liz Heiman of Percio Strategies.  We went over a bevy of great questions of how to setup and do this or that within CA, and Liz made a great case for how useful it would be to have location and description information about an appointment appear right along side appointments within people’s calendars: vital for coordination of meeting locations and a great boon to timely attendance to have dial in information right there for attendees. » Continue reading “Delightful Collaboration VIII – Setting Location and Description for Appointments”

Unit-Based Courses for Self-Paced Programs

Courses are great.  They allow you to create a coaching program as a progression of items that are to delivered over a days, weeks or month, where the items include videos, readings, worksheets, action items, and more.  They are super flexible, allowing you to set in motion a slow drip of materials to as many clients as you like with just a few clicks, precisely according to the schedule you define–you can have the system send an intro message on Day 1 at 8am, an audio lesson on Day 2 at 9am and a review worksheet 20 minutes later, and so on.

You can even make it so that completing one item triggers the release of the next, such as completing Day 9’s Worksheet triggers a “well done” message, or watching Day 2’s audio lesson triggers the assignment of a follow up Action.   You can make a rich, interactive experience for your program participants as they go through the timeline of your course.

But what if your Course is better suited as a time-independent delivery?  You might have a bunch of material wherein completing one section naturally invites flowing into the next.  There might be no reason to not let someone who’s cruising through the materials and assignments simply move through more quickly.  Similarly, when someone takes a two week vacation it might well be much better to not let assignments and messages pile up while they are away.

» Continue reading “Unit-Based Courses for Self-Paced Programs”

Delightful Collaboration VII – Course Whiteboards

Sometimes a would-be user of CoachAccountable just knows what they’re looking for.

This past Wednesday I got an email from Jason of Merchant Capital Partners, a company which offers loans and training programs to help entrepreneurs build sustainably profitable businesses.  He and his colleague Robert that got right to the point:

Hello,

We are evaluating your platform for use with our customers… would it be possible to hop on a call and talk through some of our questions and what a possible partnership would look like?  We’re looking to make a decision quickly so the sooner the better.

Please reply with some times that you are available.

The following day we spent nearly 2 hours on the phone and connected via screen share, them showing the ins-and-outs of the program they’re aiming to deliver at scale, and me taking it in and in turn advising how to best deliver it via CA.

» Continue reading “Delightful Collaboration VII – Course Whiteboards”

Zapier Integration Now in Beta

I’d never heard of Zapier until someone asked if CA integrated with it.  There is a veritable sea of other apps I might make CA integrate with, quite impractical to do them all and certainly not to be done in response to only one request, and so I tucked the idea away for the time being.

And then eventually I got another request.  And then another.  And then several more.

By about the third person to ask I gave it a good look and very much liked the premise: integrating with Zapier, it turns out, is not so much integrating with one app, but rather is a gateway to near-effortless integrations with a whole ecosystem of other apps.

Zapier LogoZapier makes it possible for your average person (specifically, NON-programmers) to make two different apps to talk to one another in order to accomplish certain tasks of automation, and with no programming necessary.  These include tasks of the form “when X happens over here, make it do Y over there”, like for example “When someone schedules an appointment with me from my WuFoo form, add it as an event to my Google Calendar.”

With the CoachAccountable API, CA is ripe for being one of the apps that can be integrated with others via Zapier.  I hadn’t yet made it a priority as of this past week, until just the other day I got another request for it, this time via chat from one Louise Beattie of Working a Better Life.

“Hey, since I’ve got you here, would you mind telling me specifically what you would use it for?” I asked.  She said she’d like to have it so that clients she added to CoachAccountable would be automatically added to her mailing list within ActiveCampaign.

Hmmm… “Are you going to be online for a little while?  I’d be happy to cook that up for you if you’d be willing to be my guinea pig on this, and let me know how it was working for you.”  I explained more or less how I myself wasn’t a Zapier user and so somewhat flying blind about the whole thing.  She was game.

So it was then that I spent some time putting the finishing touches on some toying around I’d done earlier, motivated by being able to serve a real and specifically requested use case.  Fun!

Even in this super early phase, this totally works, and is one of many MANY possible tasks that could be setup.

Even in this super early phase, this totally works, and is one of many MANY possible tasks that could be setup.

Louise was offline by the time I had things ready to go (being 7 hours ahead of me in the UK I suppose I might’ve suspected that) but the next day I’d got confirmation that the setup was a working success.

CoachAccountable as a Zapier app is now in invite-only mode.  Again, flying blind as I am (and more to the point, not myself chomping at the bit with specific integration needs), I’m leaving it up to users of both Zapier & CoachAccountable to guide in what would be useful, and the functionality of what can be easily setup via Zapier will grow and evolve in accordance with requests.

For example, two weeks ago another coach said this:

I’d love to have some rules fire when a new coaching client is added. Like connecting on LinkedIn, Facebook, maybe tie it in to a service that ships a card or brownies.

Automated brownie sending to new clients–nice!  I take it as proof positive that there’s a lot of room for creative ideas in this space.

If you’re a Zapier user and would like to link your CoachAccountable account to it for whatever purposes of automation with other systems you use, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to learn what you’d like it to be able to do, as well as invite you to the private beta.

My thanks to Louise for being the well-timed push that got me finally really rolling on this front!

Introducing CA Mobile

  • Yay!!!!! :-) THANK YOU! :-)
  • My clients have been asking for this for years. It looks great, you’re a champ! :)
  • Lovin it so far!
  • LOVE IT! CONGRATULATIONS! I can’t wait to dig deeper but it looks great!

Thus were the communications sent to me from the community of CA users within the first 6 minutes of my announcement that CA Mobile was ready to go.

Indeed this one’s been wanted for a while.  CoachAccountable has worked from day 1 on smartphones so I deliberately let a mobile version slide as a priority.  Having a second, complimentary version entails substantial overhead to maintaining and evolving the system, and so it was net quite useful to not have that while I grew CA in other ways, ways that made more fundamental expansions to what CA was capable of.

(That, and dragging my feet on this front has meant a much improved “least common denominator” of device that I needed to support over what it would have been a year or two ago, making the released product both nicer and easier to build & maintain.)

But I’ll grant that pinching and zooming about is clunky, especially when all you want to do is mark an Action complete or report on a Metric.  And since we coaches traffic heavily in the realm of getting folks to do that which they weren’t about to do of their own accord, ANYTHING that reduces barriers to acting on our coaching is bound to be a win.

Thus CA Mobile’s time has come.  Let’s take a look!

When you log in as coach you’ll first see a listing of your clients along with a summary of what’s new:

CAMobile Client Listing

(The “Appointments Outlook” button takes you to a succinct listing of all of your upcoming appointments in the system, as well as any pending requests for you to accept or decline.)

Tapping on a client takes you to their respective client page, wherein you see a detailed listing of what’s new and recent, broken into sections:

CAMobile Client Listing

Tap on any section to be brought to greater detail of that section.  See for example Actions:

Mobile Actions

Most items in a listing (for example the listing of Actions seen above) can be swiped to reveal controls: swiping right reveals buttons for common commands that can be done (like unmarking an Action done, or deleting it).  Swiping left reveals a button by which to view comments on a given item (for those items that support it, like Actions, Worksheets, etc.).

CA Mobile comments

Here’s what Metrics look like:

CA Mobile comments

Since hovering doesn’t apply on mobile, you tap a given data point to see the details and any comment.  Tap again to hid it.  If the graph is looking to squished on your upright device, rotating it 90 degrees will have it expand to fill the additional horizontal space.

For this initial release, CA Mobile allows your clients to do pretty much everything they’re allowed to do, and for you as coach to do pretty much everything you can do with client, like making action plans, scheduling appointments and assigning worksheets.  (Heck, though I don’t recommend it, you can even create new form-based worksheets from within CA Mobile!)

CA Mobile Worksheet Editor

(Let’s be clear: this is a squashed mess here, so I say edit complex worksheets on your smartphone at your own peril!  Tip: to edit a form input in a worksheet, do a double tap on it, and if that doesn’t work, a touch hold for one second will.)

Here’s the My Account page, which allows you and your clients to update personal info, including your head shot (no excuses now for your clients to not upload their own, given doing so can be as simple as taking a selfie on their smartphone camera):

CAMobile My Account

And finally the logout screen, which in addition to letting you log out gives you the option to switch to any other accounts you may have linked within CA (assuming there are any), and a button to jump you back to the desktop version of CA for whatever reason (nice if you need to do anything that’s not yet supported by CA Mobile).

CAMobile Client Listing

I’ll grant grouping all of these things together is a fairly loose take on what the phrase “log out” means, but really this is all the stuff of jumping out of one context and into another.

Getting in to CA Mobile

Accessing CA Mobile is as simple as logging in from the regular login screen a smaller device.  When CA detects you logging in from a device that would probably prefer to show CA Mobile, it’ll redirect you accordingly.  (This works the same for your clients.)

It’ll also remember the preference for a given device so that if, say, you or your client click a link into CA from your email you’ll go to the right place, desktop or mobile.  What if CA puts you in the desktop version and you’d rather be in mobile?  You’ll find at the very bottom when logged in a little link to “Go mobile friendly” in all cases, and a bigger one towards the top right when viewing CA on a smaller screen.

And if you’re in CA Mobile and want to jump back to the desktop mode?  Again, that’s always as simple as bringing up the “Log Out” screen and tapping the “Go to the desktop version” button there.

White Labeling and CA Mobile

One of the fun things about CA Mobile is that it can be made to be very “appy”, in that as a White Label branding user you can set an app icon.

App icons are the spiffy little square images that becomes the icon when you do the whole “add to home screen” thing for a given website on your mobile device. Since your clients will probably enjoy to have a home screen shortcut to CA Mobile on their smartphones, it’ll be quite slick indeed to have your branded app be what shows up.

You can set this up by going to your white label branding settings page within CA and finding the new “Custom App Icon” section within.

CA has a nice default icon for a home page app on a smartphone, but it’s kinda fun to have it be your own.  Compare the default versus a custom:

CAMobile App Icons

Your custom app logo will probably be more intentionally designed, and the name of your app doesn’t even HAVE to be a witty pun on “CoachAccountable”.

Another perk of White Labeling in this new mobile-friendly era for CA is that the standard login page (which has been remixed to be look and work great on screens of any size) will brand itself according to the white label settings of the account last logged into, meaning that login page can serve nicely as the one your clients regularly visit (you might want to change your Login URL setting to “https://www.coachaccountable.com/login” to take advantage!).

To wit, after being logged into an account with Couch Reclinable, this is what the login screen looks like:

CAMobile Branded Login

Looking Ahead

So far CA Mobile is a hit with users who’ve tried it.

Groups, Billing, Courses, and Team Dashboard are yet to come, but what’s in place already should be the 90% solution for the regular interactions with CA done by you and your clients.

I’d like to wrap up by sharing the words of one Michael Leahy.  I give his words on this matter a certain special credence, for he has been one of the staunchest demanders of there being a mobile-friendly CA for now nearly two years (so much so that when my wife and I made a bet of whether or not I would have CA Mobile done by 4th quarter 2015, we set his approval as the threshold of sufficient completion).

One hour and 20 minutes into CA Mobile’s release Michael wrote:

John, so far, all I can say is AWESOME!!! I’m really loving’ this!

So I haven’t really spent a lot of time on it yet, and only on my iPhone. Can’t wait to try it out on my iPad. I may never access CA on my laptop again (except for the obvious stuff where I’m doing a lot of document creation or course creation).

You’ve far exceeded my expectations! I can’t wait until I see what you come up with re- Groups, Courses, and Team Dashboard.  Again, let me just say in closing that you’ve really blown me out of the water with this new CA Mobile. Exceptional job!!!

With that I’m given hope that CA Mobile was worth the wait.

I’m looking forward to rounding out CA Mobile with the missing parts, and I thank everyone both for their patience with the process as well as their excitement for the result.

Here’s to giving our clients an exceptional experience of being coached by us.

Happy Birthday, CA: CoachAccountable’s Now 3!

Lordy me, has another year gone by already?

Fresh from the Photoshop I mean bakery.

Fresh from the Photoshop I mean bakery.

Indeed!  It’s now been a full 3 years since the public release of CoachAccountable2.0, and what a delightful year.

» Continue reading “Happy Birthday, CA: CoachAccountable’s Now 3!”

CoachAccountable turns 2 today!

Birthday cake

I’ll level with you here: I totally just Photoshopped last year’s cake to add second a candle.

Today CoachAccountable marks its second birthday.

With the release of the Client Manual, Groups, remixed Billing, Happenings Reports, appointment worksheets, Engagement Reports, Team Edition, Action Projects, client records exporting, embedded videos, and a whole host of other improvements it’s been a good year.

To celebrate, I have a big announcement:

Effective today, CoachAccountable Courses and CoachAccountable Groups add-ons are FREE.

» Continue reading “CoachAccountable turns 2 today!”

One of the Biggest Updates No One Will Notice

That was oddly satisfying.

I just released a major update to the CoachAccountable code base and database structure, and if I’ve done it correctly no one will notice any change whatsoever.

What’s the big deal?  I’ve spent the last week overhauling the mechanics of user accounts, news items, and customizable widget items including note areas and task lists.

(Especially the widget items, which were a kludge of bloated code to cover left-column widgets for the coach’s dashboard, the client centers, and the client view pages.  My only excuse is that this code harkened back to nearly five years ago in the early days of CA 1.0’s development, and this is largely the reason why widgets are some of the most useless and least interesting parts of the system.  This too shall pass.)

All of this under-the-hood work was in the interest of making a more robust and generally powerful platform upon which to build Team Edition.  As mentioned in a little update note a week ago, my fall emphasis on Team had given way to more immediately relevant work of marketing and outreach.  But it feels good to be back on the case of building Team.

Remixing user accounts was to enable a single user account to have multiple roles within CoachAccountable (e.g. admin of a Team, coach to his clients, and client of some other coach).  Remixing news items was to enable Team Admins to get new alerts just as coaches do now (and who knows, down the road coaches who would like to send news alerts to their clients may get their wish).  And remixing widgets was to enable Team Admins to enjoy flexible configuration of tools to be easily added in a variety of contexts, as well as to pave the way for more interesting ones.

All in all a good week, and Team Edition continues to progress.  Soon I’ll be setting my beta testers up with Team accounts of their own, bringing CoachAccountable a giant and very real step closer to supporting multiple-coach coaching organizations.

Happy Birthday, CoachAccountable!

You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a ribbon of the exact shade, #6C9C31.

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a ribbon of the exact shade of CA green, #6C9C31.

Goodness they grow up so fast when they’re young, don’t they?

Just yesterday CoachAccountable turned 1: it was one year ago that I released it from my laptop in Peru to deliberately very little fanfare.

In those days very few people who tried it really got the concept, because there wasn’t much by way of illustrating the why and the wins of using the system.  Now with explainer videos, an illustrated manual, a heap of blog posts, and a richer, more encompassing set of features people are much more able to understand the value of using CoachAccountable and put it into their practice (the change in my conversion rates make this most obvious!).

» Continue reading “Happy Birthday, CoachAccountable!”

Back in the USA!

After 365 days of living and traveling abroad, my wife and I returned last month to the US.  Last weekend we moved into a home here in Denver, and just yesterday I setup my desk and my trusty ol’ desktop computer for working.

Prior to leaving the country last summer we road tripped about the US for 3 months.  Thus this marks the end of a full 16 months of working on CoachAccountable exclusively on my laptop.

Put another way, the bulk of CoachAccountable 2.0’s creation thus far has happened with my very minimalist setup whilst traveling.

» Continue reading “Back in the USA!”