On the 14th of March, the first version was ready. We showed transformy to some people but did not receive much feedback. To many, it wasn't even clear what the app was supposed to do, while we felt it was too simple at the time to show to a tech-savvy audience such as the one on Hackers News.
We started working on a much more complicated version of the algorithm but it was taking way longer to complete. So after a talk, we decided that for a one-week project this was taking too long and we should get some feedback to see if anyone was actually interested in this thing.
We rushed the launchBy Thursday, April 23rd (yes, way longer than a week), we had reverted to the first version and ironed out most bugs. The next day, I wanted to post transformy on Product Hunt. Apparently you can only log in with a twitter account... and twitter is blocked where I work. No problem, I ask Tomas to post it. Well, apparently you need an invitation before you can actually post something. And none of us had a Product Hunt account yet. So that was disappointing. We thought this could get some traction on Product Hunt. Not so much on Hackers News, people over there seem to be more sceptical, and transformy wasn't that advanced yet.
Around 3PM I submitted the link on Hackers News anyway, not expecting much to happen but always hoping. It took us only about an hour to get on the front page, and a little later we even made it to the first spot! The next day someone had submitted us on Product Hunt as well. Again, after a few hours we got first on Product Hunt as well.
So many visitorsWe received huge amounts of traffic the first few days. Transformy was also picked up by some other sites, but nothing as impressive as these two.
Most part of the traffic was obviously from Hackers News but Product Hunt kept sending us visitors for a longer period.
We posted transformy on a Friday and in hindsight that might not have been a great idea. I think traffic would have been higher if we had posted it earlier in the week, but maybe it would have been more difficult to get to the first spots as well.
More than just traffic
For the long term, the traffic we received is probably the least significant, compared to the other things we gained in the process:
- Lots of insight on how people use transformy.
- Feedback about bugs and unexpected behaviour.
- Some people made great suggestions, and we will be implementing a few ideas soon.
- Many subscribed to our mailing list and started following us on Twitter.
ProblemsAs was probably to be expected, there were a few problems when traffic started peaking. First off, we had made a small error where a new request was sent to the server after every letter that was typed. And naturally, our server was having some trouble with that but we were able to fix it quite fast.
Worse was the fact that we hadn't properly tested our contact form and mailinglist signup. We lost about 35 contact requests and 120 mailinglist signups.
Last thing, and this was more of an oversight, we didn't have a twitter account. Assuming the traction would be minimal we never really thought it was necessary. We created one and added a link to it a few hours later and we still managed to gather some followers, but it was definitely a missed opportunity.