Just ship it: from idea to launch in five days

On the first day of my marketing internship at Google back in 2012, I was assigned to help with the launch of the Google Art Project in Paris. The team was worried because their agency still hadn’t delivered the website, which they needed to share all the necessary marketing content with museums around the world. I offered to build it, which only took a few hours. It was a super simple website, but when I applied for a full-time job later, several team members mentioned that story.

At the time, I was writing a novel, building an Android app, and selling t-shirts, all at the same time. Since then, I’ve become great at managing people and projects, but, somehow, I’ve lost the habit of making stuff. So, after a very successful month of using Product Hunt Makers, I decided to kick it up a notch, and actually build something from scratch, then launch it, fast.

I currently consult for startups and I’m working on a couple of other projects, so I decided to give myself five days from idea to launch. Five days is long enough to do some research, but short enough to feel pressured and just f*cking ship it.

Obviously, with only five days, I was not going to launch a Tesla competitor, so I decided to scratch my own itch and work on something simple: a collection of the most “Instagrammable” photo spots in the world. What do I mean by “Instagrammable”? I mean places that look amazing whatever the photographer or the camera — they’re so cool it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo. 🤘

When I visit a new city, I often Google some variation of “top Instagrammable spots in X”, and I sift through blog posts until I find some nice ones. I find the process way more rewarding than using structured traditional guides, and walking to those places allows me to explore the city off the beaten track. But the online discovery experience is not great.

Well, after years of travelling, I happen to know quite a few cool spots.

Even if I have some basic knowledge of front-end development, I’m not a developer, so I decided to keep the tech super simple.

Here’s how I went about it:

  • I collected all the spots my friends and I liked into a Google Spreadsheet;
  • went through this tutorial to use the spreadsheet in lieu of a database, thanks to the awesome Tabletop.js to pull the data;
  • refreshed my CSS skills to make everything pretty;
  • with more than 100 spots, the page was starting to take forever to load, so I added this lazy loader so the images would load while scrolling;
  • added the ability to filter by country with this tutorial;
  • added a page to accept user submissions through a simple Google form;
  • created a page for people to book a featured tile on the home page or support the project by donating a coffee, inspired by Nomad List;
  • and then all the usual stuff: logo in Photoshop, newsletter sign-up form and welcome email, legal disclaimers, analytics, etc.

If it doesn’t sound like all of this would take five full days, it’s because it didn’t. I also worked on other stuff and had a healthy social life. But some things took way longer than they should have: two hours on the phone with my domain provider to get the SSL certificate to be detected (it was all my fault and they were super helpful), a random white space on the right side of the page which took me forever to get rid of, etc. Every time I was struggling, I forced myself to go with a solution that worked fine, rather than strive for perfection.

You can see the result here: Instalist, a collection of the most Instagrammable photo spots in the world.

Yes, the countries are random, because they’re based on what my friends and I have visited, but with your help, I’ll keep adding more. And yes, quite a few of them are in France… Allez savoir pourquoi ! 🇫🇷

I’m looking forward to your thoughts. Please do contribute your favourite spots, share your feedback and suggestions on Product Hunt, and consider donating if you like it. I’d love to start adding more interactive features in the future.

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