This is the first part in a series of making the Hack Your Design project. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ll try to document our behind the scenes steps as we keep working on this project.
In this post, I’d like to talk about how we researched the market, came up with HYD idea, and what approach we took on how to market it.
We both got stuck in analysis paralysis before, so we wanted this project to be different. We decided to make quick decisions and move fast.
We didn’t want to skip any steps in the process but we also didn’t want to overthink every single piece of it.
It helped us to get fairly quickly through that first phase and focus on what’s most important.
Listen to your audience
I think we often focus too much on what we want to build, instead of what our audience really need. We’re going to spend many hours working on that product, so better be sure that it’s really something people want to buy.
If you’re looking for ideas for your new product, listen to your audience. It’s all in there and you just have to tune in and find the right thing.
When I say “listen”, it’s not necessarily asking straight questions and collecting answers. Asking people “What do you want?” can be very misleading.
Henry Ford famously said:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
We listened by observing and it’s very easy to do with social media these days.
We started by following some Twitter conversations related to our audience and looking what people are frustrated about. We watched some Facebook groups and seeked for problems and confusions.
Talking to people and asking questions is very important too. I attended some conferences in the past two years, talked to many people, but I just asked some general questions about their habits and work:
- How do you work?
- What does your work day look like?
- What tools do you use?
- What are you studying now?
- What are your short-term goals?
- What are your long-term goals?
This little research gave us some ideas for products and helped us to make some first assumptions.
We heard people asking how to customize something simple in their theme, or what are good practices when it comes to designing for conversion, or user experience.
We heard people’s frustration when their styling was broken, or couldn’t really express their brand feeling in their website’s design.
Learning HTML/CSS from scratch seemed overwhelming, and hiring other designers and developers for simple fixes was expensive.
Look for values and benefits
Not all problems can be easily solved. Some solutions can be just too expensive for users, or maybe they don’t bring enough value to pay for. Sometimes we don’t feel confident, or we don’t have skills to provide such a solution.
So, when searching for our audience needs, we had to select those ones that we could realistically provide solutions for, and that could be marketed as something that provided a clear benefit to user.
We wanted to find something that could solve particular problem while providing a lot of value and helping to save money, time, and stress.
Many people emailed me saying that they want to learn how to code their own websites from a PSD template. At first, I thought that this is what they really needed, but when I thought about it deeper I realized that even coding a simple WordPress theme from scratch requires a lot of PHP and HTML/CSS knowledge.
Then, when you learn all of that, your first websites won’t be that great, so you’ll need time and experience to get to the level when you’re satisfied with the results.
So, I asked why do they want to learn how to code websites. Then the answers kind of surprised me. Most of people just really wanted to improve their own website, or make it look less like a template.
They didn’t need to learn how to really code, they needed to learn how to hack their website, make changes they needed, improve experience, conversion, and focus on their online business.
We got some product ideas, made our assumptions, and started validating the idea. Another big question was what kind of product should it be?
It could be a plugin, a web app, a productized service, or maybe educational product (course or ebook).
We decided on the educational product, as it’s something we both felt most confident with and we just love teaching!
We want most of the content to be evergreen, so we think that an ebook or even a physical book could be a good idea to start with. As we start adding more interactive materials, videos, audios, we may want to upgrade it into an online course.
We’re going to listen more to our audience and see what content format would be the best to learn from.
Our marketing strategy is simple. We want to build the audience the right way by providing a lot of good and free value.
We started an email list where we have an autoresponder with a series of design and marketing tips. We had just three of them when we announced and we keep adding more as we continue working on the book. (psst, just those tips put together in an ebook would be a great resource, so don’t wait with signing up 😉 )
We also want to be very transparent about the entire process of creating this product. We decided to share everything we do behind the scenes.
I always loved reading articles like that from other blogs and I’ve learnt a lot from them. We think it can be a great way to keep reminding our audience about the product, and get even more interest around it.
Seems like the strategy has worked really well so far. We got first couple hundred email subscribers just in the first week, and the response from the audience is great.
In the next post, I’ll talk about how we chose our brand colors, typography, and designed the logo. Also, we’ll look into the landing page design and what tools we chose to use.
In the meantime, go ahead and check out HackYourDesign.com.