We all ask this question. It’s a common conversation starter, especially in the startup community. I’m particularly fond of this topic—I enjoy geeking out about products, writing design deconstructions, and swapping discoveries with smart folks. But these conversations provide more than just entertainment value: They are also a great learning opportunity. Understanding the subtleties of good and bad products is critical for product builders. As Paul Buchheit says, you must “live in the future” to shape it. Playing with early, innovative products can provide a competitive advantage.
This was the basis for Product Hunt. Here’s how we prototyped it.
The Idea in its Simplest Form
The concept was simple: to build a community for product people to share, discover, and discuss new and interesting products. But when I came up with the idea, I lamented the amount of work needed to build a first version of Product Hunt. Even a basic Ruby on Rails app would take me weeks to build. Although confident in my idea, I didn’t really know if anyone else would use a service like this. I wasn’t about to spend dozens of my nights and weekends building something no one cared about. How could I bring it to market sooner to test my hypothesis?