Launching Familio - From MVP to Public Launch

Michael Seid on

Over the past year and a half, I have been using Familio for my own family organization. In April, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to make the Familio Minimum Viable Product(MVP) accessible to the internet. Now, I'm excited to announce the public launch of Familio.  There was a large gap between making Familio public and being ready for launch. I had to ensure Familio was able to communicate the value prop of being a privacy focused family platform via the copy and branding of the product. As a product minded software engineer, I have a deep focus on the function of the product but not enough focus on the chrome around the product. A functioning product is great but to have it ready for launch requires a few different areas of work. Building experiences for knowledgeable users is fine for a MVP but it's also important to design for the people with zero product knowledge. This was the biggest gap I need to cross with Familio.

I want to share what I did with Familio to get ready for public launch. There are four areas of work to ensure your product can stand on it's own and be able to attract users with no prior knowledge of. For each of these areas I will go over the general concept and what I did to improve that area.

What it takes to get products from MVP to Launch:

  1. Focus on branding and copy.
    The product needs to speak for itself. When a random person on the internet stumbles onto your website, they need to understand all the value the product provides from the website itself. You aren't there to explain it for them or answer questions. It's simple marketing 101 but it's important to put in the time to communicate that value. No matter how good the product is, if a person doesn't know what the product does and find it compelling enough to sign up, it's all for not.
    For me, I talked with my sister-in-law who is a copy writer for a branding agency. I showed her the website without context, had her ask questions, then helped me create the content. It took fresh eyes and focus on the content to make the copy of Familio shine. Value props that I thought were important weren't and some smaller features were actually the most interesting to her. The branding and copy will always change as you learn more about your customers but investing in the copy makes Familio speak for itself.
  2. Ensuring a smooth and fun onboarding process
    Onboarding is the zero to one experience for your users. First impressions are critical as the product only gets one chance before forgotten. Teach the user the core functionality, lead them through their first product "moment" and ensure they get across the finish line. Without an onboarding experience, you are throwing the user directly in the deep end of a pool without any help.
    Frankly, this is the area I still want to improve the most. Right now there is a 4 step onboarding wizard that helps users set up accounts and ask for their payment information. There is definitely more to do here. Give Familio a try and let me know what you think about the onboarding.
  3. Adding help text and clear instructions
    Adding onto items 1 and 2, it's important to provide help and instructions within the product. While building the product, you will know everything about the functionality while your users which know nothing. Add in helpful text, clear instructions and useful zero states. Even though these items are only seen once, it's an import part to making your product complete.
    For each product section(Contacts, Photo Albums, Newsletters and Recipes), I added help panels that explain the functionality and how to use the utilities. It's consistent, clear and always available. For each list, Familio has a zero state which shares more about the section and has a call to action to create their first one. All of this will help users understand and learn the product.
  4. Side project marketing
    Unlike the Field of Dreams, if you build it they won't come. You will need to seed awareness for your product. This requires you to go out into the world and share your product. My advice is to not look at marketing as an instant success/failure but to instead look at the momentum. Are there more users than last month? Have you shared the product in more places than before?
    For me, I shared Familio on HackerNews, Product Hunt, and my family/friends. It's a small seed but this starting momentum has started the ball rolling. 

I hope these four steps help you take a side project to a publicly sharable product. Focus on the polish and the get your users to love your product. I'm excited for Familio to see a wider audience and get wider adoption.

Cheers 🍻,