Here’s a short note for me to reflect on in the years to come! Maybe you’ll enjoy it too.
Yesterday I “launched” https://usescaffold.com/, a paid, premium Figma Prototyping and Animation Library. I say “launched” because well, the only traffic I got was from my partner. Whoops.
And yet, importantly, there’s a lot I want to celebrate, reflect on and remember. So for now, a celebratory reflection on small starts and strategic forward progress.
Before you read any further, if you are interested in the sound of Scaffold, please go check it out! I worked very hard on it and personally, I think it’s pretty damn good.
Starting Scaffold and the Core Problem
I started working on Scaffold on the 23rd of March, 2020. I know the exact date because the day I started working on it I was considering 30+ other (potentially paid) ideas projects, with the entire concept of working on paid projects spurred on by London entering lockdown. That week I had three separate companies tell me they were pausing their hiring processes, meaning my job search of six months had come to an abrupt halt. I have been incredibly privileged through that time to be supported by my partner, friends and family, so luckily I had time to invest in a long-term project like Scaffold.
Enter stage left, Scaffold. I’ve said Scaffold too many times already, but I like the name so I’ll keep saying it. The core concept of Scaffold is this:
Figma has amazingly cool, powerful and easy to use prototyping capabilities. At the same time, adding connections from frames to frames is super annoying. So, how can I solve this for myself and others in the future? I know a solution! How about I build a library of pre-connected frames, built around common interaction design patterns? And so, the idea and execution of Scaffold began. The basic goal of Scaffold is to save people time, instead of building complex prototypes from scratch when you need them, drop in a Scaffold Base and save ~XX minutes each time.
Now comes what I believe is the most important strategic and product design decision made in the entire process.
Learning and Building in Public, User Research and Focus
There’s a popular school of thought developing and growing (years in the making) on twitter, Product Hunt and elsewhere that effectively summarises too: “Build and work in public, share your journey and experiences, and grow a community of interested fans and customers along the way”.
This closely aligns with my beliefs about successful Product Design Research strategy too — build small concepts of your product, show it to people who will use the product, then refine and iterate as you go.
There’s many stories of this working successfully — people who have tweeted entire chapters of their books while writing said book, then on launch day gone on to sell thousands of copies. Or courses released in part as they are recorded, selling pre-sales along the way. This even works for products, building a group of interested fans through spreading word of mouth and organic community growth. And naturally, each new product builds new supporters. Build great things, in public, and great supporters will join the journey.
Personally, I love this idea, and think it’s probably the best way to work on new things (of many kinds) built and launched on the internet. And I knew all of that two months ago when I started Scaffold. But I knew there was pros and cons, like everything.
Six Months of Job Hunting, and wanting to Focus
As I mentioned at the start of this rapidly growing blog post, I’ve been applying for jobs as Designer in London for the past six months. This has been, difficult, to say the least. I have five years of professional experience, and yet breaking into tech is incredibly hard. So after 100+ job applications (not all in design, but all in London) I really wanted Scaffold to be something I could focus on. Context switching and researching new companies, new portfolio approaches, new interview techniques and new industries every day for months is something else. So by focus, I mean work specifically on building and launching the best damn product I possibly can. And I knew that even though a build-in-public approach would probably lead to more long-term success, a build-in-private approach was what I wanted at the time. And so here we are, a day after Scaffolds launch, and now it’s time to share and talk in public as much as I possibly can. Because over the last two months, I built a bloody great product. And now I’m ready to talk about it.
Next Steps and Strategic, Amateur Sales and Marketing Plans
So now that I’ve launched Scaffold publicly, and finished the v1.0 release, it’s time to talk and build and share in public, en masse. Luckily, I have some ideas to help catch up. Basically, do all the things suggested about (that is normally done while working on the on-going product), except do it now after the fact.
Here are the main categories
- Blog posts. I want to publish ~8ish blog posts talking about Figma prototyping, tips and tricks, what I learn, getting started, advanced techniques, and everything in between
- Contact cool people: There’s a bunch of cool people I follow on twitter or via newsletters interested in prototyping/motion design/Figma that I think would be interested in Scaffold, and then maybe maybe some of them will share it. This feels awkward af, but I’m gonna do it anyway!
- Videos and tutorials: Scaffold is designed most of all to save time. Save time for designers building prototypes from scratch, save time for designers figuring out how to do complex Figma interactions, and save time for designers looking for inspiration on different UI motion transitions. In order to validate that promise, I’m going to record some (extremely low budget) videos demonstrating how that works. Clickbait titles likely to include hits such as “How to Rebuild the Stripe Desktop Menu in 5 minutes”. I want to show people how Scaffold can simplify their day! Because it’s rad and built just for that!
- Community: Finally, keep talking about Scaffold. Write blog posts like this. Share Scaffold with communities like Product Hunt and Indie Hackers, and whoever else might be interested!
And so, that’s the plan. Write blog posts about Scaffold. Contact cool people. Make some videos and tutorials. And share with communities.
Wish me luck!
(And if you’ve read to the end, and haven’t clicked on any links yet, go check out Scaffold, because it is cool! https://usescaffold.com/)