The (un)finished product.

Launch a landing page in 5 minutes with Firebase + Google Analytics + Mailchimp

Do 80% of the work in 20% of the time.

Ok. Well maybe not 5 minutes, but the idea is to get a working landing page out there ASAP, without worrying too much about the 20% of distractions that take up 80% of the time.

I’m working on a landing page for Vessels’ latest product: an SMS based chatbot service. Instead of spending hours labouring over fonts and designs, I want to get a simple landing page + signup form out there as fast as possible. By the end of this process, I’ll have a working landing page, email signup form, and analytics to top it all off! Exactly what anyone needs to get a new product off the ground. Let’s get started!

8:12 Setup Firebase

I already had Firebase setup and linked to my Google account, so this was a breeze. I simply went to firebase.google.com, clicked ‘Add Project’, gave it an awesome name, and configured the hosting using the given instructions. Easy!

After initialising the project on my computer, all I needed to do was run firebase deploy and it is up and running!

Note: firebase has a 5 free project limit, so this easy hosting trick won’t work forever!

8:17 Download template and customize

I’m not much of a web developer, so my goal is to steer as far away from css and HTML as possible. I found the templates on startbootstrap.com to be beautiful, simple, and the project layout easy enough to figure out.

The quick part was writing the HTML markup; the slow part the css. I found stuck on picking color schemes (I didn’t want to stick with the originals), but I just ended up going to a friend’s website and stealing his colors.

I then hit another roadblock: The English Language.

I was stuck between:

  • Bring the power of AI to your data collection tools, and
  • Supercharge your data collection

After a minute or two of procrastination, I reminded myself that ‘it doesn’t matter too much, we can always fix it later’, and went with the second choice. Which do you like better? Let me know in a comment below.

Note: Since originally writing this, I’ve added a section about smscollect, and changed the call to action to ‘Build SMS bots for remote surveys’.

8:30 Email subscriptions

8:30?!? Ugh. I spent far too much time tweaking the .css (why I don’t really like web development). Moving on.

I went with mailchip, as they provided a nice and easy signup form that I just copied and pasted into the site. I then had to tweak some more css (yay), but it didn’t take long to make it fit in with the rest of my site.

8:40 Buy domain & point it to firebase

I was hoping to get the domain smscollect.ai, but unfortunately it costs about $150 per year. .ai is popular among AI companies, but it’s actually the domain name for Anguilla. Anguilla sure is cashing in on it’s popularity.

I went with smscollect.xyz — it was $1.50. I might go with smscollect.io or smscollect.co down the track, but .xyz will be fine to start with.

Firebase has some really easy to use guides for this (even a ‘Connect Domain’) button. The thumb twiddler was waiting for GoDaddy to get my domain set up, and wait for their DNS to update for Firebase to verify that I own the domain.

you can’t miss it!

Instead of sitting idly by, let’s jump into setting up Google Analytics.

8:49 Google Analytics

As with Firebase, I’ve already got a Google Analytics account lying around, but it doesn’t take long to start from scratch anyways.

After a minute of being lost on the site, I found the ‘create a new property’ button, clicked, and found my tracking code. All I need to do is paste that in between the <head></head> tags on my site, and it will be good to go.

At this point, I’m also resisting the temptation to write more information about what smscollect actually is. My goal here is to launch a super basic landing page — and we can iterate on the design, copy etc. later!

Once again, a simple firebase deployto get it deployed, and we can check back on the Firebase domain verification, and add Firebase’s IP’s to the dns.

9:02 Up and Running!

It took a little while for the DNS to update, and for Firebase to finish configuring the domain, but here it is:

There is a whole bunch more to be done on this site, but this is a decent start for sure, and it took under an hour!

Next stop: the evil land of SEO. I’m thinking of outsourcing my SEO, because I just hate it so much. What do you think? Is it better for me to learn myself or let someone else deal with the tedium of SEO? Let me know in a comment below, or feel free to email me at lewis@vesselstech.com.


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