A large chunk of our business comes from our events and we felt it was time to invest in the backend that runs the sites and bookings for Future of Web Apps, Fuel, Future of Web Design, Future of Mobile and Carson Workshops.

We currently have this barely-functional thing we call the ‘CMS’ which was built in a hurry and is basically a pain in the ass. Its worked pretty well up until now but we’re noticing that bugs are starting to appear and it lacks a ton of the functionality that we need.

screenshot of the CMS system showing several Carsonified events

The first step

The first thing we did was sit down and decide what we loved and hated about the current system. We had to be careful here because it would’ve been easy to get carried away with adding superfluous functionality (‘It be great if it did ….’).

We basically came up with a very rough list of things the system should be able to do. Once we all agreed, Adam constructed a flow diagram of the booking process.

A flow diagram of the booking process

Our main goal was to make life easier for everyone when they’re booking tickets to our events. Therefore we started with the Booking Page. Adam did a very rough layout for this (we didn’t even bother to wireframe it).

The first obvious step was to break the booking process down into steps. Previously it was just one huge, long page and it was very unwieldy. By showing the person booking the seat that there were four basic steps to complete, it would give them an idea of where they were in the process and that it did indeed have an end 🙂

screenshot showing the new booking page

View full size image.

By the way, you may be wondering why Adam is working on the events backend when we hired him to work on DropSend. Well, the truth is that after he joined us, he realized that he left the company he started a little too soon, without giving it a chance to really take off. It was nothing to do with us, he just realized he should’ve given his own company more of a chance before leaving it. Of course we were surprised but he’s super talented so we decided to keep working with him. This was the perfect project to team up on. Anyway, back to the story …

The power of Rails

I’m an ex-PHP developer with a Computer Science degree, so I’ve never touched Ruby or Rails. Of course I’ve heard about how you can build apps much faster in Rails, but we’ve never actually used it at Carsonified.

Holy crap, I’m a believer.

We went from a visual of the booking page to a roughly functioning app in two days. TWO DAYS. Here are a few screencasts of the system in action.

Event Stream – Part I from Carsonified on Vimeo.

Wireframe to working app in seven calendar days

Just three days later, we had added the design skinning to the process and it was looking really great. We still have quite a few copy and design tweaks, but it’s basically there. Seven days – unbelievable. And keep in mind that’s calendar days not week days.

Carsonified’s new web app – Event Stream from Carsonified on Vimeo.

What’s its name?

We’ve decided to call this system ‘Event Stream’ and we’ve done a temporary logo for it.

The Event Stream logo

Once we have more time, we’ll probably redo this logo, but for now, it’s great to have another Carsonified Web App.

Well, I’ve got a ton more to share with you about the system. We’re so excited about it!