It's 2021. If you are building a SaaS product, you should do it publicly. Here's why.
As a product designer, I tend to overthink the UI and UX of every product I build. Even the little things make me itch if not properly implemented. This is great if I'm working for a huge company. Not that great if you have a bootstrapped startup.
After studying a bunch of "build in public" products, I realized it's not about the quality of the product, but about the problem you are solving. You can have the ugliest hard to use product, but if it's solving a real problem and people are interested, it has value.
Taking from these examples, I tried to do the same adapted to solve my own problems. As a front-end developer, I've converted hundreds of static designs files (e.g. Figma) into code. My clients are usually busy startups or web agencies wanted to speed up their workflow.
However, the ability to automatically publish designs into a custom domain (without going to an engineer and "design to code") is something that would benefit all stakeholders. Especially for simple projects.
How to get started
So, I wanted to build a tool to deploy design files directly in their platform. I wanted to start with a niche and chose Figma - the most used design platform. They allow developers to build Plugins to be used inside the app.
The first thing I did was to ask r/FigmaDesign what they thought about the idea. After understanding people actually wanted this, I quickly built a landing page to collect early access requests. I called it "Makers". On that day I got dozens of signups. I was on to something.
The difficult part (especially for technical solo-founders)
Ok, clearly people want me to build this. Now I have to study how to build a Figma plugin and at the same time have the discipline to keep our early access users updated on our progress.
Basically, I had to split work between product development and marketing. Erie Ries in The Lean Startup book says that we should do split this work 50 / 50.
I failed miserably... on average, I'm probably at 80 / 20 (product dev / marketing).
To force me to split my work, I created a newsletter. My goal with this series was also to be kept accountable and also keep myself motivated while building the product.
Here's the summary of the four weeks I'm working on this problem:
Fast-forward one month, my early access requests have grown by 900%. I can't stress enough how powerful this is. While building a new product or project, share your weekly progress with your audience.
- Get feedback while you are building it
- Keep yourself accountable and motivated
- On launch day, you already have potential customers ready to buy
I'm still developing this product and despite all this theory, I'm not yet sharing anything on Twitter - which everyone says is where the big opportunities arise.
If you have read thus far, let me invite you to follow me on Twitter and give me a push to start sharing these insights on Twitter as well. Are you up for giving me that extra help / motivation?
Hope you guys had a good read and learned a thing or two :) Feel free to ask anything about the journey.