When I was a product manager at Gerson Lehrman Group, Ask.com and AOL, I developed an addiction to trying out new products as soon as (or before) they hit the market. This got me the nickname ‘Beta W**re’ (I personally prefer ‘Beta addict’) by some of my colleagues. Behind the fascination of playing with a new toy for the first time, there was an element of research: How did the PM think about onboarding a new user? what fonts and interactions do they use? What happens after you sign up? usernames or real names?
There are a lot of decisions to make when launching a new product. Ultimately, your audience knows best what they like, but you rarely have a chance to get their real feedback before you put something out there. This is why I recently fell in love with Product Hunt (PH).
Product Hunt is a curated platform for new products. A select group of product recommenders (myself included) are able to post new products to the site using 3 simple attributes: name, link and tagline. Another select group is able to comment and form a discussion around the product – often times, the founders would reply to questions about product decisions and vision (my favorite part). The community at large is only able to vote and share the product page on social media.
While ‘beta sites’ have been around for ages (I’ve posted a bunch in the startup intelligence tool list), Product Hunt offers something different. First, the founder. Ryan Hoover, PH’s founder and former director of product at Playhaven, is the driving force behind the community. Ryan personally responds to posts, actively engages on social media and has a dialogue with his early users to constantly better the product. For example, last month Ryan requested feedback on new mockups. Here’s a video of the latest design process. Second, the UI. Simple, clean and Pintrest-like layout that enables the user to scan the lists quickly. I’ve also found Quibb to offer a similar pleasant experience. Finally it’s the quality, a combination of crowdsourced suggestions and limited recommenders, creates an interesting mix of startups that I wouldn’t normally discover (for example: Notifyr, Honeybadger, and Pie).
There are also a few opportunities to improve ProductHunt. the daily leaderboard gets tricky with different time zones. It’s hard to browse effectively. Adding a Taxonomy for filtering would create a better browsing experience. Search is available but this is more of a ‘discovery’ use case vs.search (where the user knows what she’s looking for). It would be great to add additional attributes for each product (or use APIs from Crunchbase, AngelList, SimilarWeb etc to add additional info on the team, funding, analytics etc).
Lean startup extraordinare Andreas Klinger created the super-sticky Product hunter Chrome plugin to help product addicts get their daily fix. How do you find out about cool new products?
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