Notes about efficiently building a great social product.

We have been building social products for several years now so there was a need to commit the lessons learned on a more permanent medium besides my brain. This post will be updated from time to time as more lessons will be learned while we approach the launching of Lifebit.

Idea

  • Choose between 1 to 1 (Skype, Whatsapp, Snapchat)  –  1 to many (Twitter, Secret)
  • If possible go after a baseline human need.
    • Level 0 human needs = communicating with friends, gossiping, stalking, entertainment
    • Level 1 human needs = eating, reading, communicating with family or partner, dating
    • level 2 human needs = reading news, getting money, buying/selling
    • Level 3 human needs = expressing oneself, productivity, efficiency, file management, discounts/savings
    • Level 4 human needs =  finding great X, curation, travel
    • Level 5 human needs = exclusive items, charity,
  • Find an offline concept that is very close to your concept. (Facebook > the face book paper book at a university, Skype > telephone but free, Uber > hailing a cab virtually) – the closer it is to a normal offline activity BUT with steps removed and made faster, the less risky your idea is.
  • Define the main CORE action and a couple of secondary CORE actions. Then define 3-10 surplus actions you want users to do on your app.
  • Take those surplus actions and lock them up in a box far away from your mind.
  • The flow should just be > Sign up / Login > DO my CORE action1 > optionally do the 2 other secondary actions.

Design

  • use Sketch for designing. Vector based, has lots of modules to hasten mockup creation, simple.
  • avoid anything FANCY on the UI level.
  • Copy 80% to 90% of the UX of  the leader in the vertical. If its social follow Facebook or instagram – not twitter or foursquare. If its a on-demand app – follow Uber. If its a chat app  follow Whatsapp. etc.
  • spend a lot of time perfecting the Onboarding process
  • go iOS 7-only, iPhone (not ipad), tall screen (don’t mind the people with short screen at the moment) and focus on that for at least 6 months.
  • If you get above 5% weekly growth for 3 consecutive weeks. Start building on the Android.
  • Use the stock iOS design and adhere to the bottom tabbar design.
  • FOCUS on HOW IT WORKS and ZERO FRICTION TO THE AHA MOMENT ****NOT**** HOW EVERYTHING LOOKS.

Components

  • use Parse so you can instantly get a backend, push notification, analytics and user management system in one go.
  • Contact book is now a safer bet vs. FB or Twitter social graph (fatigue has set in)
  • Layer.com for chat
  • Real-time stuff use Pusher or Pubnub
  • SMS and voice https://www.nexmo.com/
  • For transactional email – Sendwithus or Mandrill, we also use Sendy.
  • Use Tumblr or Medium for blogging

More to come!