Creating a web service is an interesting roller coater ride. At first, prior to the first release, it is daunting, very often fears of the tool "not being good enough" circulate in your mind. Delaying a release usually ensues once or twice until that leap of faith occurs where you make the site public ready or not.
On release of analog.io, I made a few tweets about it and shared the link on some forums. After all of that work coding, testing, polishing and perfecting ... nothing ... no activity on the site. Fire up all of the analytics tools like Google Analytics and Twitter analytics only to find that the tweet had 50 impressions, 5 people maybe clicked the link and 1 person signed up.
The moral of the story is that getting those first users is hard. You really start to realize that it takes a lot of exposure to convince users to join. Getting mind share is hard. The good news is that it always gets easier!
To get started I personally sought out and recruited each initial user via Twitter and Forums. I found some users on Hackaday.io as well. Striking a personal conversation with each of them and convincing them to give it a try.
I must say that the world is full of great people, I've enjoyed talking to all of them and learn quite a bit. Everyone has been very thankful for the discussion and the service. That is very fulfilling for me.
When the user count increased past 200 people, I just couldn't keep everything straight any more. I had Tweets and emails coming in from all directions and it was difficult to maintain cohesive conversations. At first I was using UserVoice because it was inexpensive but I eventually switched to Intercom.io because it has this great live chat which really helps me engage with people. Most importantly, engage them at the very moment that they are using analog.io. That is the best time to talk to them.
So today like most days, I logged into intercom and much to my surprise, noticed this exciting milestone!
So I thought that it would be fitting to analyze the data a little deeper. Here's what the chart looks like:
The most noticeable trends are the exponential nature of growth. The second is the incredible influence that external referrals can have on the site. We're still talking about small numbers when compared to Snapchat or Slack, but I'm still happy for a hobby project.
Of course any person familiar with the Lean Startup would caution that this would be considered a "vanity metric." I definitely agree. At this stage, I'm happy to see this growth. To take it to the next level, a strict focus will need to be put on making sure that these users are getting the most out of the site and integrating it into their daily routine.
One step at a time!