Interview: Meet the Buffer Team!

Google+ may have gotten all of the publicity this past month, but for most of us, Twitter has continued to be the social network we check most. That’s good news for the Twitter team, which just raised another mammoth amount of funding, but it’s also good for the hundreds of other teams working on products that rely on the Twitter ecosystem.

Today we’ve got an exclusive interview with the guys behind Buffer, a popular tool to schedule your Tweets for the time they’ll be most effective. Keep reading to hear their thoughts on web app development, the Twitter ecosystem, and their new HQ-in-progress in San Francisco.

Tell us a bit about the Buffer Team. What makes you excited to get to work on Buffer in the morning?

So at the moment, the Buffer team is just Joel, who founded Buffer and does all the development, and me, Leo. I am working mostly on the marketing and community side of things for Buffer.

What is really exciting about getting up each morning is to work on our vision of rethinking and creating a completely new way we share news. Every day, we are working from a different coffeeshop here in San Francisco. We are meeting more and other entrepreneurs and investors. This is like magic.

It is exactly where we want to be and also the exact casual yet focused form of how we want to approach things.

The Buffer team in a coffee shop in San Francisco

Where did the idea for Buffer come from?

Buffer, in its current state, is actually only the tip of the iceberg. It was born from our vision of making the way we share content more intelligent. We felt that the way we consumed news has changed a lot. From weblogs, to RSS Readers, to Twitter and Facebook, and to Flipboard or StrawberryJ.am.

Yet, sharing hasn’t changed for the past 10 years. The sharing buttons do the same job as they did in the past. With Buffer, we want to make sharing more intelligent, and also save the items once shared for later use, like a dynamic Del.icio.us.

Buffer

Why did you choose to focus your product on Twitter? Are you worried about Twitter’s increased restrictions on developers?

Twitter is the starting point we picked, as it is the place where most items are shared right now. It was a great place to test the waters and we saw some fabulous responses from our amazing users. Within 6 months about 25,000 people started Buffering.

As for our relationship with Twitter, I think the company is one of the most developer friendly platforms out there. We have spoken to the Twitter team several times and are also invited to visit their offices. So we really want to collaborate with them and comply to their restrictions. So far, it has been going great and I am convinced we will stay on good terms with them.

Many of our favorite web apps, such as Instapaper and Pinboard, are integrated in a number of apps. Do you see Buffer being integrated in other apps the same way?

That’s a great question and absolutely the way forward for Buffer. Our goal is to make sharing easier and more intelligent. We are in touch with many other applications, such as news aggregator Apps similar to StrawberryJ.am, Summify or XYDOApp. Offering them a “Buffering” functionality in the future, is fortunately of high interest for these Apps.

As soon as our API launches, we want to set the ball rolling and also speak to Instapaper, ReadItLater and Pinboard.

What are some of the more unique ways you’ve seen Buffer used?

We have seen some really great use cases out there. One of our users approached us and explained, how he is reading through all his Twitter lists on Twitter.com. With the Buffer button next to the reply function, he can Buffer as many ReTweets as he wants, without ever flooding their stream. That was a pretty awesome way to use Buffer I thought.

Are you worried about Buffer being used for spamming? What steps are you taking to combat that?

That’s another fantastic question. Our main goal with Buffer is to optimize the way you share, not to automate. Every Tweet you post is still written by yourself and dropped into your Buffer.

A few users approached us for automatic feed tweeting or the like. We tried to explain to them, that this might turn some users into robotic spammers. Many understand this and think, focusing on the genuine side of things is key.

Could you share with us something you’ve learned from developing a professional web app?

Sure, so Joel wrote a fantastic piece about how he initially went from idea to paying customers within 7 weeks. There are lots of great lessons in there I believe and if anything, the key point we learnt was to always put something out there in front of users, even if it is unfinished and minimal. Getting lots of feedback and getting it early is a really important way to get the experience right.

Buffer dev at the old HQ in Spain

Do you have plans to make any more web apps?

At the moment, the focus lies on Buffer. The App you are seeing now, is only the starting point. We want to expand to other social networks, improve the analytics and make Buffering from anywhere even simpler.

The next App will definitely come though. It might be a little while until then.

What do you think about the future of web apps? Will simple, single-purpose apps continue to be popular?

Yes, absolutely. I think above all things, simplicity and design are the core components of a great web app.

I believe, that as we all spend more and more time online, there will be a lot more opportunities to fill niche markets with new ideas for Apps. Keeping them simple, especially at the start and focused on one problem only, makes a big difference.

Thanks, Buffer Team!

We’d like to say a special thanks to the Buffer team, and especially Leo, for taking the time to do this interview with us. We’re always excited to hear more about the thought and development behind the latest web apps, and it’s great to talk to a team that’s so excited about what they’re doing. If you’ve got any questions you’d like to ask the Buffer team, just leave a comment and we’ll make sure they see the questions.

Along the same lines, do you have any web apps that you love and would love to see us interview their developers? We’re always looking for suggestions, so feel free to send us a message or leave a comment, and we’ll see if we can pull off an interview you’d love to see!


Responses

Add Yours
  • Very well done interview.

    I have been using buffer for quite a while now and the team is just so much supportive to the users always offering tips and advice.

    Got to learn a great deal from this interview!