This post was originally published on Medium

Tictail is a global community with stores and customers in over 140 countries.

Metrics and data visualization are critical to understanding how the community is developing. This starts with absolute numbers displayed over time e.g., GMV, number of active stores, number of unique customers. Slightly more sophisticated is cohort data which offers insights on how a set of users engage with the product through time e.g., average monthly sales by store grouped by the month the store launched. Cohort data also helps us understand what type of users we are attracting and how product changes are helping them.

All of these numbers and graphs are great for analytics, but they don’t provide our community with an intuitive appreciation of just how global the community is. We thought it would be amazing to see an animated map of every Tictail order over time.

It is inspiring to see how many people, all around the world, find products they love on Tictail stores. This is just the beginning.

We recently launched our first consumer app to help stores reach mobile shoppers around the world, and we can’t wait to see what the next two years looks like!

Technical Background: To make this graphic we exported a uniform subset of recipient addresses, extracted unique city and country pairs, and geocoded those using Mapquest’s free geocoding API built with OpenStreetMap data. If you are interested in geocoding at scale, check out this brief introduction of available resources. We designed a custom basemap using Mapbox and used the CartoDB Torque engine to create the animated temporal map.

In an going effort to passively track everything, I recently set up a script to record just how bad I am at email. With the help of Kevin Kwok who showed me the wonders of App Scripts, I set up a script that records the number of emails in my inbox, and a trigger that executes it every hour.

The result is a Google sheet with a timestamp and my inbox count: you can see a live interactive chart here.

My email follows a fairly consistent pattern of small triages with intermittent substantial sorting, and I have consistently failed to achieve Inbox Zero since I started tracking. I think it would be bad if the graph was flat at zero though as it would indicate I was constantly interrupting my day to handle email (or got no emails). However, I would like to establish a regular cadence of achieving inbox zero (or close to it) every other day.

Some of the simple ways I try and reduce email workload:

  • Separate inbox and filter for notes to myself using Captio
  • Separate inbox and filters for all email lists, newsletters etc.

I know others really like GmailMeter, which has a lot more analytics, and many people find Unroll.me particularly helpful.

What does your graph look like?

In the first of many collaborations, Tyler, Bay and I recently launched Photobama. Our iOS app allows you to take selfies with Obama … and Miley … and Kanye … basically, ‘Selfies with the Stars.’

It was a fun weeknights project for us all. The first time we submitted the app we actually got rejected by Apple. They asked us to get written permission from Kim Jung Un to use his likelness:

We found your app includes features or content, in the title, keywords, and/or imagery, that bear a resemblance to the well-known, third-party mark, images of Laurence Fishburne, Miley Cyrus, President Obama, Pharrell Williams and Kim Jung Un. In order to proceed with the review of your app, we require documentation evidencing you are authorized by Laurence Fishburne, Miley Cyrus, President Obama, Pharrell Williams and Kim Jung Un to use features images Laurence Fishburne, Miley Cyrus, President Obama, Pharrell Williams and Kim Jung Un.

We tried writing to him, but didn’t get a response. So, now it is live with creative commons images.

The image hosting and analytics is all done using Parse, which is fantastic for bootstrapping quick projects. If you want your own likeness in the app for anyone to take a selfie with, just email us!