Lessons Learned from Hacker News and Product Hunt
On January 10, at around 12:30 AM, I submitted my project Facebook Page Unliker to Show HN. I originally started this project as a challenge to build a useful app using only EmberJS. The submitted version was (and still is) pretty buggy, but quite functional. After watching it get a few upvotes here and there, I closed my laptop and went to sleep.
I woke up the next morning and swiped down from the top of my phone screen to check my notifications, as per my morning ritual. Right next to the Thunderbolt speech bubble of Facebook Messenger, I read, “Dude, your app is on the frontpage of Hacker News!” I quickly scrambled out of bed, logged into my computer and checked. Sure enough, there she was, maxing out at #8 with 82 points.
It wasn’t long before my app was posted to Product Hunt, making its way quickly to the top of the list.
Facebook Page Unliker was shared a fair amount through Facebook and Twitter. She had her 15 minutes (or 24 hours) of fame. From appreciative mentions on Twitter to emails of thanks, I was truly humbled by the attention my application was getting. After replying to commenters on Twitter, HackerNews, and Product Hunt, I looked back at this experience and tried to extract some lessons from it.
Function Over Form
Facebook Page Unliker is by no means the fanciest looking application out there. It’s relatively simple in its appearance and not the fanciest web app out there. Although it may be unsightly, its effective and efficient function of quickly unliking pages makes up for its lack of aesthetic polish. Even if the solution is buggy, if it does what it is supposed to do well for the most part, then people will still use it.
Find Common, Unsolved Problems
I like to think that Facebook Page Unliker reached #1 on Product Hunt and the frontpage of Hacker News because it scratched an itch many people had. While there were more beautiful and cooler applications in the top ranks of Product Hunt, many of them were not solving actual, shared problems. Since Page Unliker solves an unrealized, yet common problem, the users are compelled to use it.
Share Your Side Projects for Feedback
When I realized how my application was taking off, I was nervous as hell. I knew of the bugs that existed and was scared it would bring a lot of critcism, yet nearly all of it was constructive feedback. Just reading the positive comments allowed me to take steps towards curing myself of impostor syndrome. Is my code a hacky solution? Yes. But does it work well enough? You bet it does. While this project was a successful proof-of-concept, I can safely say that I am less scared to put my projects and code out there for the world to see.
My quick weekend side project was able to receive over 20,000 page views. While I’m not the best EmberJS developer out there, this entire experience has motivated me to keep on working on side projects to share with the rest of the world and strive towards further refining my skills. While I still have a lot left to learn and improve upon, it was a humbling and motivating experience, and I encourage individuals to keep on building solutions to unsolved problems, no matter how ridiculous they may be.
I’d like to thank Romeo Kwihangana for helping me edit and revise this blog post, in addition to Kyle Johnson, Gerard O’Neill, and Bryant Satterfield for helping me polish out the more pressing bugs in Facebook Page Unliker! Also, shout out to the EmberJS team for being awesome and making such an amazing framework!