It was close to 10pm in Edinburgh, UK, I was resting in my bed typing away on my laptop. Just a few days before I launched my first app called Hummi.nz that I developed for myself as part of a personal challenge. I knew about the show section in Hacker News(HN) and I though I will give it a shot and I posted a link to the Play Store page there. The app is about humming songs and I though maybe people will laugh at it or something along those lines, but I gave it a shot anyway. About half an hour later I received a couple of positive comments which was more than I expected. So I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

Morning

The alarm started ringing, time to wake up. I picked up the phone to stop the alarm, I look on the screen and I see over a dozen notifications from my app. Wow, people are actually using it. I went in my app to check the leader-board (a quick way to see the number of users) and there were over 40 users. Prior to that I had about 10. I jumped out of bed, went to my desk and I went quickly to my article on HN.

I actually reached #9 during the day but I forgot to screenshot it 😢

I was #10 in the list and I had lots of great comments and suggestions. Wait, oh no, some people complaining that they can’t log in. This can’t be…

Technical issues

Of course nothing can go well especially when your API, database and mobile app were developed and designed in a week. Fired up my terminal, accessed my server, listed all my Node services running there and, weird, everything was up and running. Checked the logs, database failures, unique constraints errors on the username field. Basically and technically:

  • The app was creating users without a username field
  • The username field was being populated on the next on-boarding screen in the app (very clever design, indeed)
  • Someone left the app without selecting a username
  • His username field was null
  • All the other users trying to register couldn’t because it was restricted to have another user with a null username
  • Seriously, Raz?!

So that was a disappointment. It happened while the app was getting a lot of attention from the HN community so I probably let down quite a few people. Problem patched, now time to check stats. Obviously, the site views went up quite a bit, but what got me excited the most, was refreshing the leader-board screen on my app and see how the number of users was going up, 45, 50, 60.

Almost 100 by the end of the day 🎉

The Unexpected

I didn’t expect my post will get so much attention, and really, I was thinking that I might maybe get about 4–5 comments so I get to know a bit more about what people would like to have in a humming app like this.

Going back to the roots of the project, Hummi.nz was developed and launched in a week, there was almost no time for market validation, getting feedback from potential users and any other processes that could’ve helped me release a polished app with the perfect features. I basically developed and designed the app as it was pictured in my mind and released it into the wild. Then I visited the Play Store dashboard…

Two 1 star ratings. This brought my app’s rating at 3.something stars. After a bit of time I was slammed again with a 1 star rating, but luckily I was also getting 5-star ones to keep the rating above 3. One of the low ratings was from a user that couldn’t log in because of my server problem. Fair enough, I fully deserved that. But what was most interesting was that I got two 1-star ratings because I would allow users to use the app only after they log in. People didn’t like this and some of the discussion on HN was related to this as well.

I replied to the users on Play Store letting them know that I’m going to modify Hummi.nz to not require a login for access. I took this idea to the board and reached the conclusion that it is indeed a good point and I’m grateful to have received the feedback.

  • Users can get into the app more easily just by entering a username
  • They get the option to make an account so they safely use the app on other devices
  • The whole on-boarding process becomes much easier

Going forward

This is all very exciting for me. I worked on multiple projects that had many users before, but it was never one of my own projects. I guess now I’m going to work more than I expected on Hummi.nz because of all the great feedback I received so far. The new on-boarding experience is already released and I have many other great features on the list.

I’m going to end this post here, but I will come back with more from my journey with Hummi.nz and any other side-projects I’m working on at the moment. Catch you all next time!

I try to post about my progress more often on my Twitter. You can give me a follow at https://twitter.com/razvanilin