Effectively Building in the Open! 🍱
Top 5 highlights from my interview with Chris Raroque - who has effectively ideated, built, and shipped two awesome apps fully in the public's eye.
Hi everyone - we often hear about the benefits of building in the open, but what exactly does that entail? To get to the bottom of this, I had a great chat with Chris Raroque, who made Ellie and Mogul right in front of us through his public updates and conversations:
I always end up learning a ton through these conversations, and below are the Top 5 things I learned that you may find insightful as well:
📣 1. Building in public increases accountability (Link)
When you publicly declare your intent to do something, there is an amount of healthy pressure where you now have an added incentive to deliver on something you stated.
😄 2. Make yourself customer/user zero (Link)
Echoing what Kushagra Gour of CSSBattle described, building something that addresses a problem you personally have is a great place to be. You can reduce the time it takes to validate whether something is useful or not. Both Ellie and Mogul were born out of a need to address a problem Chris wanted to solve.
🗒️ 3. Engage with users Early. Engage with users often (Link)
A benefit of ideating and building in the open is that you will attract others who may have a similar problem as you (#2) and want to help you test your solution. Chris talks about how some of his earliest users helped validate his immediate solution and suggested improvements that improved the app greatly, not just for himself but also for other users.
🎉 4. Maintaining user trust is critical (Link)
During the early stages, Ellie was a free app. As Chris honed in on the key features and found product market fit, he decided to switch to a paid model. To ensure early users weren’t negatively impacted, he ensured that whatever price you signed-up for was respected throughout the lifetime of that user’s engagement with Ellie.
Chris didn’t need to do this. Many services we regularly use don’t do this. By going the extra mile on this, Chris ensured that his early users love the product even more. Happy and loyal customers are the biggest evangelists of your product, so doing the right thing is just good business.
⌛ 5. Spend your development time wisely! (Link)
As many of us know, building an app requires us to depend on and use a plethora of tools and services that each have their own learning curve. It is easy to be sucked into major time sinks where you are spending more time on some tangential development activity that doesn’t accrue value to your primary activity.
Chris’s primary activity revolves around ensuring he builds a great app that he and his users will enjoy, and we can see that in the tools/services he uses to optimize for his primary focus:
Ellie’s Web app 🌎:
Github, React, S3 Storage Buckets, Firestore, Vercel (hosting / staging / previewing)
Ellie’s iOS app 📱:
Github, XCode (Swift / Swift UI), Test Flight, Sentry
Till Next Time
I hope you all enjoyed a TL;DR highlight reel of my interview with Chris. These interviews are also available on a bunch more platforms beyond just YouTube, so check this interview out on Spotify Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, or Google Podcasts if that is your preferred platform for listening/watching content like this.
You can discuss this interview further by posting on the forums or just Tweeting at me.
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