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More News on YouVersion’s Scaling Progress: User Support

Phase one of YouVersion’s scaling process was completed a little over a week ago. It involved both hardware and software upgrades to help handle the increased traffic from both website visitors and mobile application users. You can read more about that process here, but we’re already seeing drastic improvements in up-time and reliability.

While the engineering side of YouVersion’s scaling was under way, we quietly started a project to scale our support infrastructure to better serve the millions of new users that are being added to the YouVersion community. With YouVersion adding more than 10,000 new users every day, it was apparent that our former support setup wasn’t going to work.

Nearing the end of 2009, we set out to overhaul our user support infrastructure so that it could scale to serve tens of millions of users efficiently and effectively.

First, we moved from GetSatisfaction to Zendesk (http://support.youversion.com). Zendesk allows us to support users one-on-one through a private ticketing system while maintaining an open forum environment where the YouVersion community can help each other find answers. Second, we assigned a single person to be responsible for ongoing support. This doesn’t mean that one person has to answer every support request. Rather, this person is responsible for making sure the YouVersion community is cared for, heard, and helped. It’s more of a leadership role than a “customer service representative” role.

The most important change has been who supports the YouVersion community. While we have a dedicated support manager to guide and lead in this area, we’re going to start leaning on volunteers to provide answers and troubleshoot problems for other YouVersion users. The volunteers we’re trusting with this role are handpicked to join this team; the YouVersion Community Champions.

If you’re interested in being a YouVersion Community Champion, here’s what we’re looking for:

- Used YouVersion for at least 4 months on a very regular basis
- Very familiar with the main website and at least one YouVersion mobile application
- Displayed the ability and willingness to meaningfully help other YouVersion users in the public support forums by answering questions or providing guidance

We’re excited about how this new approach to user support will provide value to the entire YouVersion community. If you’d like to know more about volunteering for YouVersion support or in other areas, go to http://goo.gl/9CkB. If you’d like to sign up immediately, go to http://goo.gl/XixQ.

With the new system in place, we’re confident that we’ll be able to continue to effectively support the ballooning YouVersion user-base as it grows into the tens of millions. And what’s more, we’re prepared to make constant adjustments and improvements as necessary to make sure the YouVersion community is always well cared for.

Scheduled Maintenance Tomorrow Morning

In our continued efforts to keep up with the growth of YouVersion in recent months, we’re scheduling some downtime tomorrow morning to spend some time upgrading our hardware. YouVersion will be down for an hour (or less) between 9am and noon CST. We’ll post from the @YouVersion Twitter account when maintenance begins and again when we’re finished.

Sorry for the inconvenience. We promise to work as quickly as possible.

Scaling…phase one complete!

For the past few weeks our team has been focused on bringing stability and reliability to the YouVersion infrastructure. You can read a few posts about the process here and here. I am pleased to announce we have completed the first phase of that process, and had a very successful and stable weekend…more here and here.

As you are aware, YouVersion is growing at an amazing rate – over 1/2 million new mobile users added in the last 30 days, and over 250,000 new registered web users this month alone! We are not seeing growth slow down, so we are also preparing for continual scaling (phase 2, 3, etc.) to be able to handle the additional users.

Finally, with all this scaling and infrastructure talk you might be thinking we have stopped ongoing development…well, that is not the case! Look for some fun and exciting releases and announcements in the coming weeks.

Scaling to Handle YouVersion’s Massive Growth

As you may know, YouVersion grew by leaps and bounds in 2009, and 2010 is already shaping up to be a record-setting year for Scripture engagement on the web and on mobile phones. January is on track to see more new accounts, more new Bible app downloads, more YouVersion.com unique views, and more time reading the Bible than we’ve ever seen before.

But with growth comes the challenge of scaling to accommodate it. God has brought together an amazing team of talented developers and engineers that have made it their single focus to stabilize and expand YouVersion’s infrastructure to handle the current load and prepare it for the increasing demands of new user-accounts, hits, downloads, and minutes reading the Bible.

Today we completed the first phase of infrastructure expansion and you should already start to feel the increased speed and better up-time from the changes we’ve made so far. Continued server and code-base optimization will take place over the next several weeks with ongoing evaluations and tweaks throughout the year.

As a side note to these challenges and our response to them, the YouVersion team is incredibly thankful for our users. You’ve been patient, courteous, helpful, and encouraging through this phase of growth and we don’t take that for granted. We know that God has big plans for YouVersion in the coming months and years and we’re honored to partner with you to see His plans come full circle.

(As a reminder, if you have questions, problems, ideas, or praise for the YouVersion team, you can post them to our community forum at http://youversion.com/support.)

Massive growth…and the impact you are feeling!

Over the past few months YouVersion has been growing at an explosive rate, and for that we thank you! Many of you might not realize, but in the last 30 days we have added over 1/2 million new mobile users to the iPhone, Blackberry and Android Bible application and that continues to grow. In addition to those new users, we are seeing significant growth in mobile web usage as well as traditional web usage of YouVersion.com. We are excited to see so many millions of people interacting regularly with Scripture.

However, with the great news of new users…and people being able to engage in Scripture, the reality is we have had a few rough days this month, specifically on Sundays. As we see huge amounts of people using the Bible Application our core server infrastructure has not been able to handle the peak load. What we want you as our users and partners to know is we are very sorry for this issue. We are highly committed to addressing these current problems, and building a solution that will have the capacity to handle millions and millions of new Bible users each month. We have already made some major changes and improvements this afternoon, as well as initiated a plan to triple our server infrastructure.

As challenging as these past few days have been…we are excited and encouraged about the future. The idea of reaching hundreds of millions if not billions of people with the power of God’s Word is unfolding as a reality! We thank you for partnering with us and ask for your continued prayers and support as we continue this exciting journey.

New Living Translation Available Offline for iPhone/iPod Touch

We’ve been looking forward to this announcement for some time and I’m glad to be able to finally tell you about a new addition to the growing list of offline-available Bible translations for the iPhone and iPod Touch Bible app. Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, the New Living Translation is now available to download so you can enjoy it anytime and anywhere, whether you have a network connection or not.

We’re highlighting this addition specially because you’ll have a limited amount of time to take advantage of it. The NLT will be available for download for 90 days and will remain there forever (unless you delete the Bible app from your device, heaven forbid). Again, we want to thank Tyndale House Foundation for their generosity in making the NLT available offline for this time.

To download the NLT, or other offline translations, open the Bible app on your iPhone or iPod Touch (make sure you have a network connection) and tap the “More” option in the dock at the bottom. From there, go to Settings, then Offline Translations. Scroll down about half way and select New Living Translation from the list of options. Then tap Download Translation and the app will begin downloading the offline translation for you.

NLT Offline

The download may take a few seconds or minutes depending on the speed of your connection, but once it’s finished the NLT will show at the top of the Offline Translations list. When you’re reading the Bible, to switch to an offline translation, just open the translation selector (near the top of the reader) and look for the translation that has the little icon to the left of it.

Thank you for using the YouVersion Bible app. More than 3.3 million people have installed YouVersion on their mobile device. Know anyone who could us a free Bible on their phone? Send them to http://youversion.com/download.

20+ Ways to Read the Bible in 2010. Pick Your Plan & Personalize It.

Just in time for the new year, we’ve launched more than 20 new Bible reading plans on YouVersion!

  • 20+ plans are available online and on your mobile device, so you can keep up with your reading no matter where you are.
  • You can customize each plan to match your schedule by making it shorter or longer.
  • Easily track where you are by checking off each day’s reading. We’ll also show you how far along you are with a percentage of completion.
  • Your online and mobile accounts will synchronize your information, including your plan and your progress.
  • Soon, you’ll be able to build a support system by opting in for accountability emails to you and/or a friend.

Following a reading plan helps you stay on track with your Bible reading goals. Choose one (or several) and each day a special selection will be ready and waiting for you.

Pick the plan that’s the best fit for you:

http://www.youversion.com/about/reading-plans

See what God reveals to you when you spend time in Scripture each day!

The YouVersion Team

Read more at Swerve

youversion_readingplan_400x100.jpg

YouVersion iPhone Bible App 2.2

The YouVersion offices have been buzzing with anticipation for version 2.2 of the iPhone Bible app that has just been made available in the iTunes App Store. We’re excited to put this new version in your hands before the New Year because it includes some amazing new features! Let’s take a look.

When you open the new version, you’ll see a welcome screen that gives you the option to “Sign In to YouVersion.com” or “Create An Account.” If you choose not to sign in now, you will still be able to sign in later within the app.

welcome-splash

Most of the new features in this version are related to the advanced Reading Plans options. The first time you open this section, you’ll see the option to “View All Plans” or “View Default Plan.” If you choose to stick with the default plan, you’ll still be able to go back and take advantage of the advanced features later.

read-plans-splash

Choosing “View All Plans” will take you to a list of all available reading plans from YouVersion.com. From here, you can sign in with your YouVersion.com account to see the plans you’ve started already or to start a new plan. Tapping a reading plan in the list will show you the details of that plan.

my-plans-list

When viewing the details of a reading plan, you’ll have several options. You can view a sample of the plan (View Today’s Reading), start following the plan (requires sign-in), or stop following the plan (if you’re already following that plan). You can even read a description of the plan, see your start/end dates, percentage of completion, or get more information about the provider of that reading plan.

plan-detail

When you tap “View Today’s Reading,” you’ll see the list of reading selections for today which you can choose to read, along with the option to go to tomorrow’s reading assignment or share your plan on Twitter or via email. If you’re signed in and looking at a plan you’re following, you’ll also see check-boxes to mark off what you’ve read. (Your progress will be synced to your YouVersion.com account.)

ref-list

Tapping a selection in the list takes you to a modified version of the main Bible reader. Notice the different dock at the bottom of the screen. That simple tool will allow you to jump between all the selections for that day. As you read, the app will track your progress for you. So, when you return to the list of today’s selections, you’ll notice that your plan is already checked off for you. If you didn’t actually read a particular selection, just uncheck it.

basic-reader

If you don’t have a YouVersion account yet, you’ll be able to sign up for a new account from anywhere within the Reading Plans section of the app or from the Settings page.

sign-up

We hope the new Reading Plan features will help you meet your Bible reading goals for 2010. As always, to download this application or the YouVersion Bible app for Blackberry or Android, go to http://youversion.com/download from your mobile device.

YouVersion Blackberry Bible App 2.1

Today we are excited to announce version 2.1 of the BlackBerry Bible app. We have been working hard on this update, and are happy to put this in your hands just in time for Christmas! So if you are a Blackberry user think of this as our special gift to you!

So, without further ado let me walk you through some of the new features and user experience.

As you might notice here, there is a slight change…what once was Daily Reading, you now see Reading Plan. We now have dozens of reading plans at your finger tips, and many are much more than just daily plans. Read more about all our reading plans here http://www.youversion.com/about/reading-plans

Home View

Here you see a view of the reading plans. In this you you will notice “My Reading Plans” as well as Available Reading Plans. So yes, you guessed it…you can now login to YouVersion via your Blackberry device. The login will keep your reading in sync with the desktop web version…and any other mobile device you might use.

Reading Plan List

This view shows today’s reading for the Life Journal Reading Plan. You will notice there are 3 readings for today and the ability to email them, Tweet them, as well as see the plan details.

Life Journal View

Ok, check this out…here you are seeing our new custom daily reading scripture reader. At the bottom of the reader notice “Today” and specifically the 1 of 3. We tried to make it as easy as possible for you while reading your plan. In this view you simply see you are reading today’s plan and you are on Reading 1 of 3.

Daily Reader View

Above, I broke the news that you can now login to YouVersion via your Blackberry Bible App. //Applause goes here// You now have the ability to manage your YouVersion login as well as your Twitter login in your settings screen. Yep, it is that simple.

Settings View

Finally, it’s time to take what you have learned here and Share it with the world. On your Share screen you can now Tweet about the YouVersion Bible App being amazing…and yes it is Free as well. So go ahead, take out your Blackberry and tell the world how much you love it!

Share

Download now…here is how. Take out your Blackberry, and go to http://bit.ly/bb-bible. This will take you to Blackberry App World, our preferred method of installing. If App World is not available in your country, you can also download it via http://youversion.com/download from your Blackberry, Android, or iPhone mobile device.

Stories from the YouVersion Billion – What is yours?

Last week YouVersion hit a major milestone: YouVersion users have spent one billion minutes reading the Bible on mobile devices. That’s 19 centuries! It makes me wonder if something like that would have happened so quickly without the Bible being in the pocket of around 3 million people all day, every day.

Although the sheer number (1 billion!) is amazing, the more important factor is that “1 billion” represents real people spending real time reading their Bibles. The stories from those people are moving:

“I have a wife, 3 kids, a full-time job, and I’m the part time (but really operate at full time) worship pastor at a large church. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of things to make all of these things work, and at times I would drift away from consistently reading the Word. Having YouVersion on my Droid has made an incredible difference in my life, my families life, and my ministry. Thank you so much for doing so much for His Kingdom.”

“Your app has been a Godsend, and led me back to attending church regularly and seeking spiritual help during my more recent trials and tribulations.”

“I have found that I read my bible on exponentially more than ever before as it’s always available anytime, anywhere. I love the fact that I can send text’s that I’m reading by email to my friends/family.”

“I lead an adult Disciple Bible Study at our Church. Having the many translations available on my iPhone makes comparing texts very convenient and aids our study.”

These are only a few of the many, many stories we’ve received from YouVersion users that have seen God work through the Bible on their mobile device. If you have a story of your own, go to http://www.onebillionminutes.com and let us know. We’d love to hear your story.

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