Brittney Sheffield / User Insights / November 11th, 2014

Marinara Timer Cooking Up Productivity for Thousands

Marinara Timer is a tool a few members of our team cooked up in August 2013 as part of our annual Race to 352. Yesterday, Marinara Timer cooked up a strong batch of productivity for its 50,000th user – which isn’t too shabby for a free tool that’s had almost no promotion. Along with being one of our favorite productivity tools around the office, Marinara Timer has also been a recipe for quality digital products.

One of our software developers, Peter Brownstein, watched videos featuring the Pomodoro techniques (the idea of committing specific amounts of time to work and break periods to maximize productivity), but nothing quite fit the flow of the agile web development process we practice at 352. Just when he’d get in the groove, the Pomodoro timer would tell him to take a break. Not the most ideal productivity tool.

That’s when he decided to form a team and create a more flexible timer with a simple interface and the ability to adapt to your schedule.

Meet the Team Behind the Timer

Peter-Brownstein
Peter Brownstein – Idea Man, Software Dev

drew-kellert
Drew Keller, Software Dev

damion-wasylow
Damion Wasylow, Marketing Strategist

Nicholas-Forneris
Nick Forneris, The Designer

Helpful Tools Market Themselves

Just like our interactive developer-education tool Dungeons and Developers, Marinara Timer became a hit almost overnight after it launched in 2013. With almost no promotion other than our blog posts, it was featured on lifehacker shortly after it launched last year. More recently it has been featured on productivity discussion forums and in a productivity guide published by Internet.Frontier.

People say that good work is its own reward, and that applies to digital products as well. Marinara Timer has been the poster child for our belief that genuine, helpful content or tools will always be rewarded. We intentionally used minimal branding and put it out in the wild and promoted it only through social sharing. We love the opportunity to help people simply for the sake of helping people. The team saw a need for a productivity tool with some flexibility, and they built it. No frills, just useful features.

Since its launch, about 600 people have been interested enough in the Timer’s creators to click through to 352inc.com, which has been an added bonus to helping our peers get their jobs done.

Just the Facts, Jack

Last year’s Race to 352 was all about activating our new brand, especially the core values of the company. Marinara Timer is a great example of my favorite value: Smart solutions create exceptional results. Marinara Timer has seen great success thanks to its emphasis on function over form – it solves a problem that we felt other people faced and doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

To Nick’s credit, the design and its nuances are rock-solid, but the team didn’t concern themselves with bells and whistles. Instead, they focused on two important goals and prioritized their efforts accordingly.

  1. Allow users to customize their work and break time periods.
  2. Give users unique Marinara Timer URLs so that teams in remote locations can work together on a synchronized schedule – if one person makes an update to the timer settings everyone sees the change on the same URL.

They nailed it on both fronts and have made an impact on a lot of people as a result.

Since the launch in August 2013, Marinara Timer has been used by more than 50,000 users from networks including The Walt Disney Company, J.C. Penney, Nestlé, Groupon and hundreds of universities. Users from 170 countries around the world use Marinara Timer. 352 also uses it during every company-wide staff meeting to keep our presentations time-boxed and in sync.

Now those are some tasty results.

Do You?

You can check out Marinara Timer at MarinaraTimer.com. Drop us a note if you have ideas about how we can make the tool even better, and we’ll keep you posted when we make improvements.

  • Christopher Burns

    I love using the timer… we use it in long meetings to make sure those with more stamina don’t put the rest of us to sleep. 55 minutes of meeting, 5 minute break… on repeat until the meeting is over.

  • dwasylow

    It was a fantastic project to work on. It’s amazing how many people now use it to make their days more productive.

  • Jennifer Fix

    Really nice synopsis of the making of marinara… such a great tool that we use all the time.

  • Michael Sheftic

    You had me at Ed’s laugh. How could that not make a meeting better?