How I’ve Managed to Build Digital Product as a Designer

[This is extended story originally published on Indie Hackers]

They say “Scratch Your Own Itch” when you want to build something from scratch. So I did, I scratched so hard that I’ve learned to code and built a tool I had been missing. I’ve managed to deliver very simple but yet fully-functional webapp — Mailist while learning to code.

My name is Marcin, and I’m designer and graduated architect. I specialize in Branding and UI/UX design and I would call myself Visual Designer unless I’ve recently became a developer. Yes, I’ve built a fully functional product, from scratch!

So, there was this idea.

For a quite long time, I was reading a lot on the internet about growth-hacking and marketing, so I was browsing thousands of blogs, apps, groups; watching videos on YT. While discovering more and more interesting content, it turned out, it’s impossible to read everything at once. So I’ve started to save the links in my Chrome bookmarks — as I always did with other resources. At some point I started using Pocket to manage my save things, but the problem was, I kept forgetting about my saved bookmarks and the content I wanted to read. I didn’t have the routine to open my Bookmarks and browse the content I saved there.

That’s why I started to look for a tool which would allow me to save the links but somehow remind me of them after some time. Luckily (today) I haven’t found any. Of course there were plenty of possible work-arounds (f.e. using Zapier to connect Pocket or exported bookmarks with some notification system) but I wanted something super simple.

The Idea came in — let’s build the app. I thought the product through, and I was thinking about my programmer friends and whom I am going to ask for help. But as some of you might have already know that (non-developers 😉), developers are either very expensive or not available for such small projects. After talking about the idea with some of my close friends — validating it at the same time — I got so excited about it, I decided I was going to build it on my own. I’ve had some little experience with Rails before — did some tutorials in the past, therefore I decided I can get back to it. The frontend part was not that scary for me, so I decided to jump into deep water and try myself with building the whole product.

It took me over a week to build fully functional MVP.

Equipped with the internet knowledge (so-called „Stack Overflow Development” 😂), Youtube videos from Mackenzie Child and little help from my Rails-guru friends, I’ve managed to launch the product live!

For the backend part, I used Ruby on Rails, integrated with Mailgun. App’s layout is written with pure HTML + CSS (and some JS), and landing-page was designed and developed in Webflow which I’ve already known while delivering webdesigns for my clients (I love it, seriously!).

That’s how I’ve brought this product alive — Meet Mailist.app!

What’s Mailist?

Mailist allows you to save any links from the internet easily and store them for later, to read whenever you have time. Every week (on Saturdays) you receive an email with five random links you saved for later. Think about your personal, carefully tailored weekly newsletter, with the content you add on your own. It’s that simple, isn’t it? And the best part — it’s free, without any limitations forever!

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Mailist — simple app to save links and get reminded about them in a weekly email

Where am I know?

After 1 week after launch I’ve managed to find over 300 users who really love the simplicity and the experience the app offers. Mailist was even hunted on Product Hunt (without me knowing 😅). Right now it basically grows organically thanks to the users sharing it. I’ve received so much positive feedback I’m really motivated to work further on it. I’ve managed to convince my friend-developer to become a cofounder so he can take care of the code — this time in more professional way ;-).

Right now we are working on very exciting feature which will be an amazing offer for influencers and content creators. Hopefully, we can manage to deliver it very soon!

The dream is to present Mailist to everyone— because I really think it’s a handy tool! And more seriously, I really want to develop this product further and deliver value to active, engaged users. Am I able to this? The future will tell but today, just give it a try: https://mailist.app

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