How we built an easy date picker to solve our problems, and reached more than a million people from all over the world in the process.
About 4 years ago, we started working on LouLou; a simple app to plan events directly in WhatsApp. Last month we reached a million users, so we figured this was a good a time to write about how we got to this milestone!
In early 2013, my colleague Jurriaan and I were brainstorming during one of our regular Innovation-team meetings at Triple. We were thinking of small app ideas that could help Jurriaan expand his iOS development skills. However, we didn’t want to create something that would be of little use in the real world.
A few weeks before I became annoyed that every time my friends and I wanted to meet up, our shared WhatsApp group would burst into an unstructured message overload. Jurriaan and I set out to fix this problem by creating LouLou; a simple date picker directly connected to WhatsApp.
Jurriaan had just joined Triple and was learning a lot of new languages at the time. He was a fanatic Android user but quickly noticed that he had to start making apps for iPhones if he wanted his innovation prototypes to get any traction within the organization as most people were using iPhones at the time.
Fast forward to a week later when Jurriaan presented both an iOS and an Android version which were connected to his own server back at home. Although the design was very crude we could already see the potential and quickly started spamming our friends with LouLou’s for every small occasion that needed a date!
When we were finally ready to launch the app, we reached out to our friends over at iCulture (back then it was still called iPhoneclub) and they wrote a very nice article about LouLou and the problems we were trying to solve. This helped us reach our first 1.000 users and immediately gave us the social boost that helped the app grow over the years.
From that first week, LouLou has had steady growth due to the viral nature of the app. Users send a LouLou to their friends, who immediately see the benefit and want to use it for their other group chats. Over the years we’ve added tons of small growth hacks and A/B tests to improve retention and other user metrics (we aim to keep the time on-site as low as possible for example).
One of my personal goals when building LouLou, was to create a close relationship with our users. It’s humbling and insightful to get user feedback on a product you make as it shows you the impact you can have on other people’s lives through software.
Throughout the years, I’ve received over 500 emails which ranged from feature requests and bug reports to compliments about the ease of use of the app itself.
My favorite thing about these emails is when users ask me to look at their LouLou to fix something. This gives me a small glimpse of how users use our product in their daily lives.
If you’re an avid LouLou user you might already have seen some of our upcoming changes appear in your polls.
On a sunny Monday morning in August we decided to make some changes to the design of the LouLou web pages. By the next day, we launched the new design and we started experimenting with the new tools. LouLou is mostly used as a learning tool within Triple. Having our own product with a wide variety of users teaches us a ton. While the costs of LouLou are not astronomical, we want to experiment with different monetization strategies over the next few months.
Our main goals were to make the design more dynamic and to allow us to experiment with small advertisements at the bottom of the page. LouLou is obviously most used by people who want to plan an event in a group setting, so we thought it would make sense to find relevant content and products related to these kinds of activities. The color and destination of our advertisements are determined by the type of question that is asked in the LouLou, so we can provide relevant and hopefully fun content without obstructing the user experience. Because that will always be our main goal: to provide a super smooth and chill experience, leaving users happier than they were before.