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Etsy Update: The Latest From the Belly of the Beast

Jul 23, 2010

by Rokali

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Hi all, 

Here’s my much overdue update. I apologize for the radio silence. I’ve been focused on getting things done, rather than talking about getting things done.

Introduction

Everything we’re doing is for the sake of improving our service, and we all know there are myriad improvements to be made. To better describe what we’re working on, I will also note who is working on it.

Etsy recently surpassed 100 employees, with half of us working in engineering and product. In other words, 50 people are working directly on building the website. 

We’ve created a dozen individual teams inside the company, each focused on a particular part of the website. This means that we’re working on many things in parallel; just because we’re working on one thing doesn’t mean something else is on hold.

Outside of product and engineering, we’ve more than doubled the size of the support team, now numbering twenty-six people strong. We plan on hiring another eighteen people in support this year, working here in Brooklyn and in our Berlin office. 

Our goal is to offer phone, live chat and email support around the clock. We’re prepared to invest whatever it takes to get there, and while we’ve made good progress, we still have a ways to go. I’ll write more about this in a future post, since it’s so important to us. For now, let’s look at who is doing what.

Side note: If you’re an engineer, designer or product manager and the teams below interest you, please hop over to our jobs page to learn about how you can join us.

1. Search and Explore (how people find and browse items)

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This team has been focused on the infrastructure and performance side of search: how quickly items are indexed (and reindexed, when edited), and how quickly results are returned when someone enters a query. There are almost 10 million items on Etsy to keep track of, and this number is constantly growing. 

What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • An A/B testing framework that allows us to more carefully roll out site changes, testing multiple variations of a feature and also monitoring performance.
  • Adding search to the Treasury.
  • Dynamic site maps for shop homepages, shop sections, and listing pages.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Infrastructure improvements, allowing us to move more quickly and be more reliable and robust. Right now it takes about 14 hours to index all the items on Etsy, and the new framework (currently in testing) takes only 7 minutes.
  • Item taxonomy, improving the metadata on items to help buyers find them.
  • Making searching and browsing on Etsy a more international-friendly experience.

What’s next?

  • Improving how people can shop for items, and creating custom experiences for different categories.
  • Continuing to build a world-class search team.

2. Storefronts, a.k.a. Seller Tools (ways to run your shop)

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This team is focused on improving the selling experience. They’ve accomplished a lot these past several months, as I’m sure many people reading this have noticed. 

What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • Improvements to the item listing process, including the ability to upload five images at once and drag & drop image ordering.
  • Google Product Search improvements.
  • Including listing title on page URLs, improving SEO and readability.
  • Improvements to managing a shop, including the ability to delete expired and inactive listings and to edit shipping profile names.
  • Updated orders page design, added a “sort by buyer” and “view ship to address and message from buyer.”
  • Updated purchases page design and added sort by shop and filter by month or year.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Enabling buyers to browse the site in any currency.
  • Making listing URLs canonical, so they stay the same even when an item that sells out (or expires) is renewed.

What’s next?

  • Currency work: checkout, listing an item.
  • Managing multiple shops from a single account.

3. Curation (creating and managing lists of items)

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • Released Treasury East, which is now the Treasury. This was a complete rewrite of the Treasury.
  • Improvements to Treasury: adding tags to lists and searching lists. Read more about the technical side of this work in Code as Craft, our developers blog, here and here.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Stability and speed improvements. There are already over 60,000 lists, with almost a thousand new lists created each day.

What’s next?

  • Leaderboards and other ways to surface top Treasury creators.

4. Shopping Cart and Checkout

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • Numerous bug fixes to the existing checkout, working closely with PayPal on many of them.
  • A complete rewrite and redesign of the checkout framework, using PayPal’s Express Checkout API.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Final testing of the new checkout. Code and design reviews.
  • We will require buyers to actually pay for an item before marking it as sold on Etsy.

What’s next?

  • Evaluating ways to allow for buyers to pay multiple sellers at once.
5. Social and Personalization (connecting people with people, and learning people’s tastes)

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • Infrastructure for large-scale data crunching.
  • Suggested shops.
  • Explorer.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Explorer improvements.

What’s next?

  • Gifting.
  • Better integration with Facebook.

6. Community and Content (this here blog, and Groups)

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • A ground-up rewrite of the Teams section, soon to be called Groups.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Final design and testing of Groups.

What’s next?

  • Continued work on Groups.

7. API (empowering others to work with our data)

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • A totally new API, supporting OAuth, with new methods supporting add to faves, sales data, purchases, billing and payment. Read more about it here.
  • Redesigned developers portal.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Listings upload via the API.

What’s next?

  • Shop management via the API.
  • Better use of geographical data.

8. Atlas and SCRAM (our internal tools for running the site)

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • New Atlas framework (so we can build better support tools, more easily).
  • New member lookup.
  • Shop flagging.
  • Updated transaction emails.
  • Internal Etsy employee directory.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Moving data into the lookup page so the support team has a more comprehensive view of member data.
  • Giving the content team more tools to filter and sort flagging cases.
  • Adding new checks to SCRAM.

What’s next?

  • Revamping how we handle non-delivery reports, how we guide sellers and buyers through resolving reports, and how we handle failure-to-resolve reports.

9. Infrastructure, Testing and Security (making sure the site is up, speedy and new features are working)

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Functional partitioning for db tables (performance, stability).
  • Security improvements.
  • Improving the image management system.
  • Test framework.

What’s next?

  • More functional partitioning.

10. Engagement (key landing pages, customized shopping)

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What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • Redesigned the homepage, the search results page and the category landing page.
  • Added Translation tools.
  • Improved performance and accessibility of the homepage.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Redesigning the shop homepage and listing page.
  • Personalizing the the homepage.

What’s next?

  • More personalization.
  • Redesigning the member pages (Profile, Feedback, Favorites).

11. Technical Operations (the integrity of our service relies upon this)

    

What work was completed in the past 4 months?

  • Installed 1,200 CPU’s worth of new computing power.
  • Increased the geographical diversity of Etsy’s servers.
  • Much improved automation for turning up new servers.

What’s being worked on right now?

  • Long-term capacity planning.
  • More system automation, so we can roll out more capacity faster.
  • Enhanced monitoring and metrics. We currently do over 1,400 checks per second.

What’s next?

  • More of the above!
  • Increasing resiliency, building a more fault-tolerant infrastructure.

And one more thing…

We’re excited to welcome Kellan, our new VP of Engineering.

In conclusion…

There’s a lot going on here at Etsy. It’s important to note that there are a number of other teams working on things just as important as site features, and they aren’t listed above. Customer Support, Business Operations (legal, finance, analysis), Product (UI, UX), Editorial (our blog), International, Marketing, Human Resources, Community and more are all hard at work.

We will be posting more updates soon. Head over to the Forums for questions and discussion.