An Overnight Success — How Product Hunt + Hacker News fueled 300k views in 30 days


Just over a month ago on August 22, I found myself working with my friend Nate at his kitchen table, sketching out a wireframe for a new site. We had been bouncing ideas off one another for a few weeks over text and an idea had finally surfaced. . .

Jad: “Like maybe find a celebrity wearing a cool outfit. Copy the outfit for way cheaper.”
Nate: “Focusing on men’s clothing could be a winner. Lots for women, few for men.”
Jad: “Just posting an outfit everyday. And have a simple email subscription.”
Nate: “That’s an awesome idea”

I immediately opened a new browser tab on my phone and quickly stumbled on a surprisingly good domain name that was available. I found a GoDaddy coupon code and bought it for $2.99 before our conversation was over.

Jad: “How about famousfashion.com”
Nate: “That’s available!?!”
Jad: “For $45,000, lol.”
Jad: “Famous Outfits? It’s available. I’m buying it.”

We both agreed this wouldn’t be another one of those domain names that would lie dormant waiting for the “next great idea” to be developed on it. So, we met up a few days later and began brainstorming. What happened next was far beyond what we ever could have imagined.

If You Build It, They Will Come

My friend, Nate and I, are both self-taught designers and developers. We worked together in the past creating some really neat stuff. Since we had both moved on to different jobs, we were eager to collaborate again. After spending countless hours meticulously creating content for others, we wanted to build something to call our own.

Our idea was pretty simple — create a site that would show guys how and where they could affordably get the same look as popular celebrities. A well-designed, fun, and informative site that would have new content everyday. We found there were tons of sites like this for women, but very few for men. Even fewer that offered affordable clothing options. And none that weren’t overrun with ads. So, that’s what we set out to create.

Forgive me for the horrible sketch. That was done in like 2 minutes.

It didn’t take very long to come up with a game plan for the new site. Our goal was to build and launch in less than a week. That night around the kitchen table, we completed a rough wireframe. The following day, a mockup of the site was completed, and over the course of the next three days, I coded a custom WordPress theme. We created the site responsively with a mobile first approach.

V.1 of the website on an iPhone 6. Thanks to https://dribbble.com/cobe for the iPhone photo.

We knew the UX had to be equally as good on a mobile device as it would be on a desktop, including the image maps, galleries, and navigation. We took the same approach in designing our daily email too. A large portion of our users would be viewing the Daily Outfit email on a phone, and the email had to look great no matter what device it was viewed on.


Dress for Success

By the following Tuesday, only five days after we started, famousoutfits.com was live! Sure it wasn’t a perfectly polished site, but our idea had come to life and fast. We beat our 1-week goal.

This was the original website design that we launched with.

To get things rolling we asked a few questions on Reddit to get some constructive criticism about the design and concept. We posted to subreddits like /r/startups, /r/web_design, and /r/entrepreneur. Though we received only moderate traffic from these posts, we did receive some valuable input that we immediately implemented. It wasn’t until Friday morning, after we posted our first blog post on Reddit that we got a nice spike in traffic. But, that spike was nothing compared to Product Hunt!


Let the Hunt Begin

I’m a HUGE Product Hunt fan! So, I was shocked to see this tweet shortly after I sent out my first tweeted announcing Famous Outfits from my personal account.

https://twitter.com/mbavio/status/505356133931180033

Nate and I started going crazy. Three days after launch and we were already on Product Hunt. We couldn’t believe it! We began thinking how we could finish in the top 5. Based on the other products featured that day, we knew would have to get pretty creative to move up the list. So, we created Famous Outfits — Product Hunt Edition. Ryan Hoover, Product Hunt Founder, was up first. . .

The dog is optional.

We posted Ryan’s outfit breakdown in the comments and the upvotes started rolling in. Ryan loved it! But, we were just getting started. We then created one for Erik Torenberg, Hunter Walk and even Snoop Dogg based at Ryan’s request! We were having a blast watching the traffic come in from Product Hunt and seeing the comments and tweets from Ryan and Erik.

We don’t recommend that you copy Snoop Dogg’s outfit.

When the clock struck midnight, we had squeezed into the number 3 slot finishing with 100 upvotes and 27 comments. Product Hunt was definitely the tipping point for Famous Outfits. Only three days old and top 3 on Product Hunt. It was an unbelievable day!

How many people can say they have the best Product Hunt thread ever?

Hack Attack

After a week of good traffic still coming in from Product Hunt, we were looking for more feedback. Only expecting a few comments, I posted Famous Outfits on Hacker News the following Thursday at about 2:00 p.m. Nate and I were both working at the time so I quickly submitted the link, not really thinking twice about it. Earlier that day, I just so happened to set up MaxCDN for the site to speed things up a little. I had no idea this would be just in the nick of time. After I posted it, Nate and I began texting back and forth in shock. . .

Jad: “Submitted it to hacker news.”
Nate: “Um. It’s blowing up.”
Jad: “124 on the site now.”
Nate: “292. We’re going to hit 300!”
Jad: “Oh my goodness Nate. This is sweet.”
Nate: “407! So much good feedback!”

We ended the day on Hacker News as the top post with 200 comments, 356 points, and over 22,000 unique visitors! We were completely blown away. It was quite the roller coaster ride.

We’re still getting traffic daily from Hacker News!

More importantly, the Hacker News community was awesome. The helpful feedback we received in the comments got us thinking how we could make Famous Outfits even better. Later that night, we began mocking up a complete redesign to increase engagement. The redesign was coded and launched the very next day.


Launch, Then Iterate

Our plan to quickly launch an MVP then iterate based on user feedback was a success. In just over 2 weeks, we were already on our fourth revision. As you can see, our initial design is completely different from what the site looks like now. It’s now far more engaging and easier to navigate. Take a look at how Famous Outfits has evolved in such a short period of time.

  1. Blog style layout
  2. Daily outfit featured at top
  3. Pinterest embed with new layout
  4. Added sidebar for signup and sharing

Content is King

Early on, we realized featuring a Daily Outfit wasn’t going to be enough. Fresh, compelling content was needed to get people to return to the site on a regular basis. The blog at Famous Outfits was the place where we began to feature this content. We wanted to create posts that wouldn’t just attract visitors to Famous Outfits, but would also be worthy of social media shares. As designers, Nate and I sweat the details of every post, giving each a unique look. Here are a few that we’ve created and the success they’ve had.

Apple Watch: The People’s Choice

2014 Men’s Fall Fashion Guide

  • Over 430 Social Shares
  • Over 22,000 Pinterest Views

1 Item 3 Looks

  • The ‘1 Item 3 Looks’ Pinterest board has 263 followers
  • Over 100 social shares

Expect the Unexpected

During the past month, it has been fascinating to observe traffic and feedback for every update, post, and design revision. There were times we were so focused on things that we were absolutely convinced would bring an increase in traffic and engagement, but turned out to be a waste of time. Other times, like when Gigazine.net and Fashionsnap, two popular Japanese blogs, put us on their homepage, we received over 10,000 unique visitors and 400 retweets in just a matter of hours. It’s been fun to see the how different people have discovered the site.

If you want a good laugh, try to read the articles with Google Translate ☺ buff.ly/1mNC8hW

10 Tools We Used

We can count the tools we used to create Famous Outfits on two hands. We didn’t see any reason to rely on a bunch of different tools to create or maintain the site. Each tool brings great value and efficiency. Take a peek inside our toolbox.

  1. WordPress— The popular content management system needs no introduction. Though we could have created a custom app in Rails, WordPress helped us get up and running so fast.
  2. Photoshop— From creating mockups to designing the Daily Outfits, we use Photoshop extensively for almost every aspect of the site.
  3. Sublime Text— It’s our go-to text editor of choice for development. Simple and efficient.
  4. Dreamweaver— You read it right! We turned to Dreamweaver to streamline the image maps we create for the Daily Outfits. It’s amazing how fast we can get this done now.
  5. Google Apps — When our personal inboxes started to overflow, we turned to Google Apps to handle our mail. It’s so easy to setup address aliases too. Not to mention, Google Docs collaboration is invaluable.
  6. MaxCDN— There’s no doubt our server would have tanked when we experience the crazy traffic spikes over the past month. MaxCDN never flinched. Not once.
  7. MailChimp — MailChimp handles the heavy lifting for our mailing list. We quickly outgrew the free service and gladly paid the monthly cost. Their design tool makes creating responsive emails a breeze.
  8. AddThis Pro — A no-brainer to add sharing to your site. We opted to go Pro on Famous Outfits to make the social sharing buttons responsive and customizable.
  9. Buffer— We rely on Buffer to automate our social posts so we can focus on creating the stuff that we want to share. They make it so easy.
  10. Slack— Nate and I live on Slack. We constantly have it open on both our phones and laptops. With Slack, we can easily look back to past threads, links or attached files for later reference. We just wish they would send us a pair of Slack Socks!

Thank You!

Thank you so much! We are completely blown away by all the positive responses we have received. We receive comments like these every day. . .

https://twitter.com/SachaGreif/status/507774142637035520
https://twitter.com/tanayj/status/507386814999834624
https://twitter.com/aacook/status/508953409534590979

As Nate and I sat around his kitchen table, we never expected Famous Outfits to take off so fast. It’s amazing that two communities could have such an unbelievable impact on the site. There’s no doubt that Product Hunt and Hacker News sparked these results. . .

  • Over 300,000 page views
  • Over 95,000 unique visitors
  • Average time on site over 1:15
  • Nearly 2,000 email subscribers

We’re having an absolute blast building Famous Outfits! Stay tuned because we have some incredible things in the works that we are looking forward to rolling out soon. Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. We welcome your feedback.


Celebrate Good Times!

Last, but not least, to celebrate 1 month at Famous Outfits, we want to do something big! We teamed up with Combatant Gentlemen to give one lucky person $1,000 worth of clothes. Here’s an idea of what you could buy with $1,000.

That is A LOT of clothes.

The $1,000 Famous Outfits + Combatant Gentlemen giveaway ended on Tuesday, October 7 at 12:00 a.m.

THE GIVEAWAY


Update: The giveaways were a HUGE success. We ran two different giveaways, and here are the stats.

  • 1,685 comments
  • 2,300 social shares
  • 3,395 emails

We will be writing a detailed write-up about what how we did the giveaway, including tips on how to get user engagement, as well as making the giveaway viral.

Thanks for reading! ☺