Less of a success: launching my website

This is my story about launching my website WieMee. But before I’ll start, let me introduce myself a little.

I’m a 25 year old developer. My day job is at an app company I co-founded. With a team of 7 guys we build awesome B2B apps used by tens of thousand users every day (mostly) around Europe.

Since the company started to grow, I became less of a developer and more of a manager. And although growing my own business is something I enjoy every day, I need a side project for myself to keep my own programming skills up-to-date.

WieMee

The website I’m talking about is WieMee. It all started years ago as a tool for me and my roommates to share who would be home for dinner. This was during the start of the iPhone era, so no easy chat apps were available at the time. In the years after I added a feature lots of users asked for: split payments. And that's it.

By word of mouth this resulted in about 1600 users over 5 years (I don’t know how many of them where actually active users). And at that point, I decided it was 2.0 time.

The website (also available in English and several currencies)

The launch

July this year I launched WieMee 2.0. And that’s where the struggle began. Although switching from the 1.0 version to the 2.0 wasn’t obligatory for users, most of them switched rather quickly. And they where in shock at first. The design changed radically, and most improvements where in the code base (something that appeared hard to understand for some users).

But after implementing the first feedback, everybody was happy again. So far so good. So at this point I decided to mail all users in my 1.0 database who hadn’t switched, notifying them of the existence of the 2.0 version. Of the 1400 people that received that mail, about half of them opened it.

After the dust settled, I came to the rather disappointing conclusion that only 250 of my original 1600 people where willing to try the new version.

How shitty is this website

With the initial launch not being the success I was hoping for (insert a Slack growth image here ;-)), I asked myself the question: how shitty is my website?

Therefore I jumped into the numbers. And it appeared that about 60% of the users who created an account where still using the site a month later. So perhaps my site isn’t that shitty, I just need more exposure.

How to get exposure

Being a little familiar with the startup community, I knew I had two great options: Hacker News and Product Hunt. Both are potentially amazing traffic generators.

However my gut feeling told me It would be better to get some more feedback first. So I joined the Product Hunters NL Facebook group (435 people), and posted WieMee asking for feedback.

The response? 0. Nothing. Nada. Not even a single like. Yet again bringing me back to the thoughts about how shitty my website is. But I’m not a quitter.

My Facebook post to the Product Hunt NL group

Product Hunt and Hacker News

After adding some features the last 2 months, I decided that it was time to try the big league. And I wanted to show up prepared. So I started to Google tips & tricks, and boy did I find them. Here are three very inspiring stories:

https://medium.com/@maurosicard/how-i-successfully-launched-bookicious-on-producthunt-672172420f18 (by Mauro Sicard Salcedo)

https://medium.com/design-philosophies/an-overnight-success-660739c2a7e9 (by Jad Limcaco)

http://blog.frontapp.com/2014/06/30/hacker-news-techcrunch-and-product-hunt-which-is-most-effective-to-launch-your-product-2/ (by Mathilde)

Very impressive GA chart

This should be easy. So I made my post to Hacker News, and I told a friend, who told some friends. And in an effort to up-vote WieMee, it resulted in a SPAM flag (since to many new accounts up-voted my website). Instead of generating potentially 5k+ new visitors, I got 5.

My new hope is now entirely based on Product Hunt (yes this is a shout-out). But the process of finding a hunter isn’t that easy. I have send Tweets to two hunters, who have hunted similar products, in the hope of getting some feedback (and perhaps being hunted). But none responded.

In conclusion

I just wanted to put out my story, which is still in progress. There are so many success stories out there, mostly of people who already are in a great network for launching these new websites, that from time to time it sounds rather easy. But it isn’t.

So by putting out the story of my launch till now, I want to let other people know what they can expect. If people like it, I’ll post again if something changes (hopefully when the site gets noticed, and I’ll also be able to post awesome GA graphs).

And for now, thanks for reading. If you think my site is shitty, please also tell me ;-)

Ernst