How the F^$% Did That Happen? Recapping The Success Of My Weekend Side Project
It was born from an idea I have been thinking about for a few weeks yet it only took a few hours to build and launch. The success of this launch was completely unexpected so I wanted to write down my process and try to unpack what led to this result.
The concept itself was straightforward — curate a list of various product frameworks and approaches I’ve come across on the internet. I enjoy reading about these product frameworks on Quora, Medium, Twitter and other sources but I hadn’t seen a single place focused solely on curating this content. My goal was to create a repository where I could find and learn about different approaches, methodologies and frameworks to building products.
I knew that I wanted to create something that was visual and allowed users to easily browse and learn more about each framework. Despite my limited development experience, I was confident I could create something lightweight and static that met my needs. I decided to use the Bootstrap library and host the content on S3.
When I first thought of this idea a few weeks earlier I added some frameworks and links to a personal Trello board I use for side project ideas. This was the initial content I used to seed the page.
I also created a Typeform page with a link to allow users to submit new content or ideas to be added to Product Frameworks. Although not ideal that users are directed off page, it took 5 minutes to create and allowed me to spend more time focusing on the content and formatting of the page.
I built the page on Saturday and decided to post it to Product Hunt on Sunday. As you might imagine Sunday is not the best time to promote or launch new products, but since this was my first effort I didn’t mind that. Sunday came and went with not much action — only 4 upvotes and minimal activity.
On Monday I woke up to a few tweets from folks in Europe who seemed to really enjoy the content and saw that it had picked up some upvotes on PH. By midday Monday I was trending to the top of the page and receiving more positive feedback. This continued into Tuesday.
I think ultimately what made this product successful was three things:
1. The content was interesting and highly relevant to the Product Hunt audience. PH users are makers and tech enthusiasts and early adopters — which made them highly interested in learning different approaches to how products get built.
2. The website itself was really simple and provided unique value. There was no signup or action users needed to take to access the learning content.
3. There was no other resource like this available. I knew this because this was something that I was interested in but hadn’t been able to find. I created this to solve a problem I had faced.
Mistakes and Iterations
By Monday afternoon I realized that I was onto something and this product was really resonating with users. I knew that I would have no way of re-engaging with users or getting them to come back to the site when I add new content once this initial PH traffic died down. I quickly added an email capture form linked to MailChimp at the bottom of the page.
I emailed Kevin Lee from Product Manager HQ to share my new resource and he provided some great feedback to add tracking parameters to the URLs on the site so they could see the traffic being driven to them from my site.
I also screwed up initially by not having Google Tag Manager setup properly to be able to track the clicks on the site and accurately gauge which frameworks were most popular.
I’m really encouraged by the feedback and responses I’ve received thus far. I’d love to keep this going and continually expand the content. I’ve received a few dozen submissions via my Typeform on the page for new frameworks which I’ll be adding over the next few weeks.
Looking ahead my focus will be on these three areas:
Obviously I cannot rely on traffic from Product Hunt forever. I didn’t focus on SEO at all for this launch by I think it could become a viable long-term growth lever for the site. The evergreen nature of the content means it will be valuable and relevant for a long period which bodes well for search.
Now that I’ve been able to build a small mailing list my plan is to send out a monthly recap of sorts to those subscribers containing new content that has been added.
Another area that could help in discovery is adding on-site search. With only a dozen or so frameworks it is easy for users to scroll through to find content that interests them, but as I built the library of frameworks I anticipate this becoming a bigger problem.
One early idea I had for the site was to provide a voting mechanism to allow users to vote on frameworks they liked and use that to bubble up popular content. While I ruled that out for my initial launch I still think it is worthwhile to explore. This could allow ‘popular’ frameworks to rise to the top instead of me just curating them in a ‘most recent’ format.
If you’ve made it this far please check out Product Frameworks. I’d love to hear any feedback you have.