Monday, April 25, 2011

An Open Letter to Early Access Registered Users of Form Builder

I had gone through an blog post titled "Startups: Don't just collect my email" by Phil Anderson few days ago, He write:

Collecting emails is a great way to get in touch with your potential users when you are ready to go. I've since put my email address in quite a few of these. But I haven't heard back from a single one. I know launching a startup takes time, but by not contacting people who are interested in your startup and keeping them up to date, I'm probably going to forget all about it.

Thanks Phil, your blog post reminded me I should update registered users of early access to the prototype of Form Builder via the landing page whose trusted me by sending me their e-mail address. They are my valued users, they should receive updates of the form builder they deserved.

Along the way I work out the Form Builder of which targeted to end user (If you would like to find out more about, please see this post), I find out that some Grails developers are interested in Form Builder targeted to developer. Learned from my previous mistakes, I think I am getting smarter, I prepare a landing page, write about it, announce and post updates to Grails user community to find out whether there is real need for Form Builder to Grails developers.

The landing page launched in early March and two weeks later, 33 visitors signed up for early access. The result is not too bad in my opinion, thanks to those who help me to spread the news by using twitter, facebook, blog, etc. I learned from Running Lean, a book written by Ash Maurya, using qualitative approach, talking to people by conducting customer interviews such as problem interview is the best way to find out whether "Is this a problem worth solving?". So, I prepare the problem interview script and problem summary form by refer to guidelines in Running Lean, and send out interview invitation message to the 33 registered users. I'm ready for the interviews.

You guess how was the response rate? Zero! I told my friends I stuck in "talking to people" stage. What's wrong here? Is there anything wrong for qualitative approach suggested by Ash Maurya. Hm... Not really, it was simply the fact that most developers don't like to talk to people (including myself), furthermore they don't know me personally. (I still remembered the pressure I felt the moment I send out the interview invitation message, I still doing it because I think I need to get over it in order to get things done). I understood that developers are busy, they preferred written communication over verbal communication, I should choose communication channel they preferred.

I would like to seek your input here to ensure I create a form builder that meeting your requirements. Let's me list down top 3 problem hypotheses we experienced:
  1. The first problem we encountered was creating online form that look great and professional. It was challenge to many developers as it required creative skills. The design and L&F of the form getting more and more important especially it will impact end-user impression to your application.
  2. Also, to layout form fields properly was time-consuming and required knowledge of CSS. Some developers layout form fields using HTML table, but we think CSS is better and cleaner approach.
  3. Another problem we constantly faced was effectively creating Master-Detail Dynamic Form. It was most common type of form in application, but to create one still like black art to many developers.
Please response by answer the following questions:
  1. Do any of these problems resonate with you?
  2. How would you rank these problems (must-have, nice-to-have, don't-need)?
  3. Have you run into any other problems I didn't talk about?

Today, I signed in to my unbounce account to check how many users signed up so far, the following image is the latest update:

Lastly, I included the link of this open letter in e-mail message I sent to 60 registered user.

Thanks for read until here. I'd love to hear your comments as usual.

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Brad Rhoads said...

All three issues are critical. One more thing comes to mind. It would be nice if buttons (e.g. create/edit/update/delete) were wrapped in security tags. This would probably be worth doing come Grails 2.0 with its generic security.

Lim Chee Kin said...

Hi Brad,

Thanks for writing. If you could only choose one, which one will you choose?

Best regards,
Chee Kin