Making pretty pixels and concepts it’s easy. Solving a problem is hard. Part one.

Creating a product that aims to simplify offering and receiving help.

I’m really tired of seeing beautiful pixels and artsy stuff on Dribbble and Behance. I will not go further into this because we already know what’s wrong with these platforms.

Why are people not sharing the failures? What they’ve tried? I’m already working on the fourth version of a product I’m trying to build and it still doesn’t prove to be useful.

What is what I’m trying to build?

Actually, I do not know anymore, it was 2 slightly different things up until now and both of them have gone wrong. The good thing is that the goal and scope remained the same.

First, it was a directory where you can find various professionals from hair dressers, tattoo artists to make-up artists, everything beauty related.

The second attempt was focusing more on an intimate interaction, something “Tinderish”.

The third attempt was more like a q&a approach with a twist.

The fourth one is in the making. Hope this one will do better.

Today I’m gonna write about the failures for the first attempt.

— The professional’s directory.

Why I did this?

My friends were often times talking about where you can find some good professionals for hair styles, tattoos and so on. I thought: “Hmm, I think I might help simplify the discovery process of good tattoo artists, hair artists and so on…” because Facebook was the main tool for finding this.

I’ve started doing some research and found out that there are few services that are already doing this but none of them was operating in Romania, my home country, so I said, let’s give this a shot.

It’s so easy to get caught on the idea that if you simply have a glimpse of a problem or a need, that problem really exists in real life. From my experience, most probably not.

The only competition was almost zero in the sense that there was a date-picker app for beauty services where people can book online and that wasn’t made so good (I was judging by the UI) but didn’t knew that actually there is a difference between bad design and ugly design. Also, judging by the number of downloads that seemed to not work pretty well.

So, this being said, there was no competition on what I’ve tried to do. At first, I got very excited, I was thinking:

Wow, I’m so smart! No one thought about this! It is so obvious that the only piece which is missing is a place where people can easily find these professionals.

I’ve immediately started sketching out some wireframes, user flows, and prototypes. I was super happy about the direction I was going. Of course, I’ve spent a HUGE amount of hours on perfecting the UI, trying out different color combinations and so on. Nothing wrong with this but I was focusing on the wrong thing. I should have focused on the other aspects, but that was “boring” and I didn’t want to focus on the “boring”. I needed to be cool and fancy like Dribbble.

I’ve shown my friends what I was working on and everybody was like:

Yeah, this is super cool. Keep on going!

You are killing it. This will be great.

What else could they say? This is what are friends for. For supporting you. Even if they think is shit, they can not say it is because they are friends.

Here are few things from what I was doing back then:

Curbing the enthusiasm.

I have created a landing page where I have announced the “great upcoming app”. Created a Facebook page and started sharing some info about the “great upcoming app”.
I’ve promoted few posts based on my target audience with just a few bucks. The intention was to get the attention.

Once I got few likes, I started few conversations about the app on Messenger, shared a prototype and got some impressions. Keep in mind that those weren’t my friends so I was getting some real(harsh) feedback.

Some opinions from the professionals:

Yeah, looks cool but to be honest, I’m already booked pretty much of my working time so I do not know…

I do not have the time to update or create a profile on your app because I barely keep up with my Facebook profile…

Some opinions from the clients:

I already go to the same hair dresser for a long time. I’m not really interested in experimenting with my hair.

When I need a service like make-up or hair I usually have someone on my mind or I ask a friend for a recommendation.

Suddenly, with just a few conversations started on Facebook, my great, revolutionary idea wasn’t so useful anymore.

So, sharing a prototype with friends it’s always a bad idea because friends do not want to hurt your feelings.

Making an assumption like “I’m sure that most of you do x because of y” it’s wrong. I’m bald and I don’t go to a hair dresser so you can guess how empathetic I was with it.

To keep it short, these were some of the learnings when I started the first version to speak so, the 1.0

On the next part, I will write about the second version, the version where I’ve tried to create a more intimate and engaging experience between the professionals and the clients.

If you want to have a chat about this you can find me on Twitter.

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