Product Exercise Day #1 — Hey From The Future

What makes them successful?

I might have saved myself a lot of grief had I actually taken my parents’ advice more than 11% of the time, but good luck convincing my teenage self of doing otherwise. If not my parents, then where did I turn for advice? Ah, yes, of course — strangers on the Internet.

Hey From The Future provides younger readers with pearls of wisdom written by those who have already been in their shoes. Those wise folks have the chance to turn their regrets into sound advice for younger generations. They also gain an audience also, who doesn’t love to talk about themselves?

What did they get right?

The site’s design is incredibly simple and intuitive. It is impossible to get lost. To use the service, there’s only a home page, a page listing the ages, and a page for each age.

Advice is categorized by each numerical age from 13 to 81. That said, it might make more sense to categorize advice by age groups rather than by each numerical age — what I would tell my 16 year old self only varies marginally from what I’d advise to my 17 year old self.

One obstacle that stopped me from posting anything myself is that you have to make an account to contribute advice. However, those with an account can “upvote” their favorite pieces of advice. Users have the option of sorting content by popularity or recency, which changes the reading experience to fit their needs.

How did the people behind this product think about this idea?

I think the inspiration I took from the site is exactly what the creators envisioned:

I love telling middle school girls that spending a Friday night watching your guy friends play video games is absolutely unacceptable. I could have used that time in an infinitely better way, but unfortunately, there’s no going back. Thanks to Hey From The Future, however, the weight of my regret is a bit lighter knowing that some 13 year-old girl might read my message and use that time to learn to code, or something.

The magic of the site is that it works both ways. As I go through advice written for those in their 20s, the authors are getting the same peace of mind.