Product Hunt "Collections"

Since I wrote Product Hunt's Editorial Layer last week, I had a number of discussions with people who have been pondering the same issues I raised. An idea that came out of one of these discussions was a "collections" concept. I can't recall who suggested it—it might have been Erik Torenberg—but I really like the idea.

Adding my own twist to the idea: Product Hunt Collections would let users create curated lists of products. Collections can be public or private, and can have one or more contributors. Contributors can add a Collection description and notes about individual products. Think of it like a Pinterest Board or a playlist. Collections can be searchable, and discovered on its creators' profiles and on a new Product Hunt Community page (where perhaps other content—such as AMAs—can be featured). Collections could also be embedded anywhere on the web, on Twitter, etc.

Things I like about Collections:

  • Product Hunt can remain a platform and doesn't have to get too deep into the crowded business of content creation
  • Rather than trying create one perfect and official taxonomy of categories to organize products by—which would be very tough—members can create their own and browse other's that suit their specific needs.
  • The possibilities are endless. 
    • Regular users can create a Collection for products that they want to try, track or simply share.
    • VCs, salespeople, job hunters and other prospectors can create private Collections of companies that they want to reach out to.
    • Thought leaders can create public Collections of products in their domain.
    • Brands can can publish Collections of relevant products (Ex. Smithsonian's Favorite Science Products; Urban Outfitters' Favorite Party Products for Summer 2014; TechCrunch's Daily Product Recap). 
  • Collections could provide an alternative and potentially easier way to consume the hundreds of products hunted in a given week. 
  • Collections could eventually be open to all Product Hunt users, giving each of them a way to publicly contribute and create on the platform.
  • "Featured Collections" could give Product Hunt another way to monetize its service.
  • Collections can further expose Product Hunt's brand when they are shared or embedded around the web.

What do you think about Collections? Do you have any other ideas for Product Hunt features?

Everday Nostolgia on Mobile

Whenever I travel I add the city that I am visiting to my iPhone's Weather app. But I don't delete the city when I leave. What I love about this is that it's a great way to reminisce about places I have been to when I am doing something as simple as checking the weather at a later time. Annoyingly, the Weather app has a 20 city limit, so I'm always bummed when I have to delete a city to add a new one. I've even wondered: how will I remember that I travelled to the place that I am deleting?

On Twitter yesterday, I saw that two other people do something similar with the Alarm app. Naveen Selvadurai saves alarms he created for when he needed to wake up for significant life moments, such as when he ran a marathon and rode his bike to Montauk. 

 

Click on me!

Even more awesome, Taylor Davidson has set a different alarm for each day of the past year. And it looks like he labeled each alarm with a little note.

I'm sure dedicated apps exist that let you input the places you've travelled to and list your life's special moments. You can even use apps like Timehop and Memoir.  But it's nice to encounter a little nostalgia when you're doing something as simple as checking the weather or setting your alarm at night.  

Do you do anything unconventional on your phone that let's you remember what happens in life or that serendipitously results in a little nostalgia?

Shyp—Growth via Pick-up as a Service

Shyp's core service targets consumers that want to ship an item. Instead of searching for the cheapest shipping option, packing your items, and lugging them to the nearest shipping center, you can use Shyp. Simply take a picture of your item with the Shyp mobile app and enter your location and the item's destination. Shyp will send over a Shyp Hero who will pick up your item, pack it, and ship it through the least costly and most reliable courier. It's a delightful experience that saves you money and a head-ache. 

Even smarter, Shyp has an enterprise offering. It's a great option for small businesses, Etsy sellers, Ebay PowerSellers, and others that ship lots of items but are too small to setup their own sophisticated shipping operation. I love it when consumer businesses find such a use case in the enterprise. It gives the business a clear sales strategy and the potential for enormous growth. 

There are two other enterprise opportunities that I would love to see Shyp experiment with. 

E-Commerce Returns

The first is e-commerce returns. There are many consumer-oriented and high-end online retailers that try to make their customers' experience with them as delightful as possible (Zappos, Warby Parker, Rent The Runway, etc.). Shyp has the potential to be very helpful here as a service that facilitates seamless returns.

Marketplaces & On-demand Services

The other opportunity involves providing pickups for niche online marketplaces and the long-tail of on-demand services.  It would be great to see Shyp help the makers over at CustomMade, and the users of on-demand services like Gone

Of course, with each of these opportunities people can just drop off pre-paid boxes at their local shipping center, but this one of the main inconveniences that Shyp—or a while labeled version of it—can help them avoid. And services that care about a delightful experience will value this.

Product Hunt's Editorial Layer

Product Hunt is doing well. It's doing so well that it's sometimes hard to keep up with the deluge of products and comments posted on a given day, let alone make sense of the broader trends that they represent. This is a good problem and it leads to an opportunity.

Specifically, I would love to see more editorial features. The Product Hunt team already produces podcasts through Product Hunt radio, and their daily email regularly starts with helpful recaps of trends and noteworthy products. But these efforts only touch the surface. There's still a great deal of products and trends surfaced on Product Hunt that can benefit from additional summaries, explanations and commentary. I think this is partly why there is a common desire that Product Hunt introduce categories—people want context.

It's ironic that my recommendation seems to push Product Hunt in a direction that makes it more like the incumbents (TechCrunch, Pando Daily, etc.). But I'm not really recommending that it be like them. I think there are classy and novel ways for Product Hunt to produce content that helps people more easily digest all the information that the site produces.

I would love to see articles that group together related products and that highlight noteworthy discussions and interviews from the comment threads. I would also love to see products shared in alternative, more digestible formats—whether it be via more visual articles, tabular layouts, or categories finally being built into the product. Worth noting, categories raise the issue of products not being able to fit in them neatly (or they would at least add an unnecessary complexity), but I think a concerted and creative effort at it can make it work.  

Finally, products could be the substantive focus of Product Hunt's content—with funding and business matters being only ancillary. It would be TechCrunch without the drama that only industry insiders care about.  It would be a broad offering that maintains Product Hunt's positive ethos of celebrating products.

TechCrunch without the drama that only industry insiders care about.

What do you think? Would you like to see Product Hunt, or even someone else, create content and other features that make Product Hunt easier to consume?

Emailer—a "Tinder for Email" Experiment

The Tinder UI has received high praise recently. A number of startups have even released products that intentionally mimic it. Among them are Buffer's Tinder for content, Jelly's Tinder for Q&A, and Bark Buddy's Tinder for dog adoption. Check out Product Hunt for a bunch of others. You'll notice that some of these are silly, some are attacking a small market, and some seem like they're just not a good fit for the Tinder UI. 

So last week I was thinking of use cases that might be great for the Tinder UI. One that came to mind was email. I wanted to experiment with the idea so I created some mockups with Sketch 3 (which I've been wanting to test out, so this was a great excuse).

Here's what I created: 

  Swipe. Swipe left to Archive, right to Favorite, or down to Mark as Read. Customize. But these could be customized to accommodate for labeling, marking as important, etc.  Progress Bar. A progress bar at the top shows you how many unread and read emails are left in your inbox. 

 

Swipe. Swipe left to Archive, right to Favorite, or down to Mark as Read.

Customize. But these could be customized to accommodate for labeling, marking as important, etc. 

Progress Bar. A progress bar at the top shows you how many unread and read emails are left in your inbox. 

  Reply. Hit Reply to reply to an email. Quick Reply. Or hit Quick Reply to see a list of your pre-inputted template responses that you can send without typing a thing.

 

Reply. Hit Reply to reply to an email.

Quick Reply. Or hit Quick Reply to see a list of your pre-inputted template responses that you can send without typing a thing.

  Swipe. View your emails in the traditional list view, but you can still swipe left, right and down to take action on it. Customize. Excerpt lengths can be customizable (1 lines, 2 lines, etc.), as can whether avatars appear.

 

Swipe. View your emails in the traditional list view, but you can still swipe left, right and down to take action on it.

Customize. Excerpt lengths can be customizable (1 lines, 2 lines, etc.), as can whether avatars appear.

  Inbox Zero! Nice Easter Egg if you hit Inbox Zero, which invites users to tweet about it.

 

Inbox Zero! Nice Easter Egg if you hit Inbox Zero, which invites users to tweet about it.

(A little rough around the edges, but you get the idea.)

I really like the results, and the exercise helped confirm my thinking that email is a good use case for the Tinder UI. Plus, there's helpful/fun features like Quick Reply, avatars, the progress Bar, and the Inbox Zero Easter egg. Together, I think that the product can help people—especially those that get a lot of email—get through their inbox faster. 

Of course, there's Mailbox, which introduced swiping and other smart features that are good for a mobile mail app. But I kind of prefer the stripped down, Tinder-inspired UI that I created.

Plus, this great Medium post by Janel Torkington helped put some smart theory behind the argument that email is a good fit for the Tinder UI. Specifically, Janel writes that Tinder's card UI is great for churning through large data feeds (which your inbox kind of is) because:

1. Cognitively, you can only evaluate one option at a time. Seeing all the options laid out in front of you at once is just noisy and distracting, since you’ll have to consider each one in turn anyway. 2. Making swipe-happy snap judgements allows you to make better choices, faster. . . . 3. You can do it one handed. That last point is more important than you think. . . . Mobile devices are frequently used on-the-go, which drastically increases the probability that you’ll attempt to navigate apps using just one hand, with the key digit being the mighty thumb.

What do you think? Would you use Emailer?