The Resistance is Real

Today marks 12 full months that I’ve been working on a side project called Howdy.

Howdy Homepage

In that time I’ve:

  • Re-written the code base 4 times (Laravel, Vanilla JS, React, then back to Vanilla JS).
  • Started working with a partner, then broke it off.
  • Seriously considered stopping and working on other side projects at least half a dozen times.
  • Taken 2 month-long sabbaticals where I didn’t work on the project at all.

I’m happy with the tech stack that I have now and the project is probably 90% complete, but I’m finding it extremely hard to finish.

The resistance

In The War of Art and Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield talks about “The Resistance” that keeps us from doing our work.

If you’re a maker and you’ve yet to read these two books, do yourself a favor and buy them today.

It get’s worse the closer you are to completion

Pressfield says:

The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows that we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.

My brain is literally trying to convince me to quit and to start working on “this other exciting new project”.

The ever so quiet whispers in my head are saying:

  • A year! Why haven’t you shipped yet? What a failure. Save your dignity. Just call it a wraps.
  • This is boring. Just shelve this project and move on to something fun & exciting.
  • No one will actually use this.
  • Will designers really find this useful?
  • What if you launch and no one finds it valuable?
  • This niche isn’t big enough. You should change the target to developers? Marketers? Sales?
  • Stay safe. Make it as generic of an offering as possible. That way anyone can use it.

And even though I know that these are all fabricated to get me to stop, the temptation to actually stop is legit.

I am very tempted to stop.

It get’s worse the more important it is to us

Pressfield says:

The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we’ll feel towards pursuing it.

As tempting as it is to call it quits, I honestly think my heart will break if I don’t finish this project. I can think back to so many moments where I still had optimism, hope, and excitement for this project. Where did all of that excitement go? Where is the hope now? How can I get it back?

Side projects are bloody hard

Massive props to anyone who is able to launch a side project and stick with it for a year or more.

Optimism, hope, and excitement be damned…

I’m not giving up on this one.

The resistance is real, but so is my aspiration to have dogged determination!

I will launch this project. 🤘

Wish me luck.

Interesting Alternative to Freemium Pricing

I’m always on the lookout for interesting business models. One that caught my recently was from a company called Quip.

The app is interesting. Seems like there’s overlap with Google Apps, and companies like AirTable.

What caught my eye though was their pricing:

Quip Pricing

Basically it’s 5 users for a flat $30, then $10 for each additional user. For whatever reason, this approach to pricing resonated with me. It’s reminiscent of Jira’s pricing, which I’ve always admired:

Jira Pricing

I love the idea of just getting people in the door at a lower price, allowing them to stay at that price forever if they don’t continue expanding, but then capturing additional value as a company continues to grow.

If I were launching a SaaS product, I would probably test this route before experimenting with a freemium model.

Designing a Great “Close My Account” Experience

When a user goes to close their account, how easy do you make it on them? The folks at Harvest have nailed this user experience.

From settings, when I click the “Cancel Account” button I’m taken here:

First of all, that illustration is adorable, very personable, and unique. It’s refreshing to see illustrations that are way outside the current popular trend of big bodies with tiny heads:

The next thing that caught my eye was the “Put Account on Hold” option. How cool is that! I’ve never seen an app do that. I’d love to know what percentage of people choose that option instead of closing their account.

I decided to close the account anyway. The next screen I’m presented with is this one:

It makes sense that they’d want to use this as an opportunity to gather feedback. I like that they don’t ask a bunch of questions and I like that this portion is optional.

When I click “Close Account”, I’m taken to:

Another really personable illustration accompanied by some really friendly copy and even a list of the team members—which I thought was a nice touch.

Most companies would stop right there, but not Harvest. Check out the email I received immediately after closing my account:

Hot dang! They went above and beyond by auto-sending me a downloadable backup of my account data.

I applaud the team at Harvest for going the extra mile, especially when someone is on the way out the door. Now that is the right way to close an account

What other examples have you seen? Hit me up at its@davemart.in. I’d love to hear your examples

What can Cookbooks Teach Us About Design Systems?

I love to eat (nom nom). 🤗 Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes outside of work.

If I were to break down where I spend my time as it relates to cooking, It would probably look like this:

  • 5% Education – Learning new skills/Expanding my knowledge of food and cooking techniques
  • 5% Discovery – Finding new recipes/Exploration/Experimentation
  • 90% Execution – Cooking dishes that I’m already familiar with

That said, I’ve been cooking for a couple of decades. In that sense have a lot of experience. The percentage breakdown may vary drastically for those just getting into cooking.

Regardless, most cookbooks tend to do a pretty good job of catering to all three of these functions.

Education

Generally towards the beginning of a cookbook you’ll find a section that focuses on education, on how to perform particular skills. Here’s an example from The 4 Hour Chef for how to chop using your knuckle:

Everything on this page is about teaching and education.

Discovery & Execution

The rest of the cookbook (the large majority of pages) are then filled with individual recipes. Here’s another example from The 4 Hour Chef:

If I add some highlights, it’s easier to how each recipe is broken down into two functions:

  1. Discovery in purple
  2. Execution in orange

How does this relate to design systems?

I see a strong connection between how I spend my time cooking and how I spend my time designing/developing. When I’m designing a new feature, typically about 90% of my time is spent executing—or working with pre-existing components that I’m already familiar with. 10% of my time is then split between either education or discovery around new ways to solve a particular problem.

When creating a design system

It may be worth thinking about:

  • Who is the target user of your design system?
    • People who are just getting ramped up?
    • People who understand your principles, process, styles, and components intimately?
    • Or some sort of cross between the two?
  • With that in mind, what percentage of your documentation and your energy is dedicated to:
    • Education
    • Discovery
    • Execution
  • Does that breakout (the % you focus on education, discovery, and execution) match your target user?

Ways for Designers to Learn JavaScript

If you’re a designer who’s wanted to learn JS, but has yet to make the commitment, here are a few handy resources to get you started:

Free

Paid

Wes Bos is having a Black Friday sale right now with 50% off all of his courses. If you’re in the market for something a bit more advanced, I’d highly recommend:

Making it easy for users to proactively give you feedback

How easy is it for the users of your app to submit bug reports, or to offer up a suggestions? As someone who has a long history with tech, it’s relatively easy for me to grab a screenshot, or create an animated gif to pass along, but do all of your users find it this easy?

This week we’ll look at a couple of ways to make it easy for users to give you feedback at just the right time.

Make it easy for users to show you what they’re seeing

Here’s a really neat way that Google Domains allows you to send feedback within their app.

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The key ingredient to successful trigger emails

Back in the day when I worked at WordPress.com we were trying to figure out how to activate more users. Lot’s of people would sign up for an account, use it during that first session and then never come back.

The goal was to figure out how we could bring more people back. Naturally, one of the first things we looked at was email triggers. In the process of doing that we stumbled across something interesting that I’ll highlight below.

The first thing I did was simply to pull up my personal Gmail account. I typed the following into the search bar, “from:(twitter.com) twitter.com” and here’s what I saw:

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Duolingo’s Dynamic Homepage

This week I thought I’d highlight something interesting that I noticed on Duolingo’s homepage—something that I’ve actually never seen before.

The vast majority of companies treat their homepage like a static resource. That means that no matter who you are and no matter which stage of the user lifecycle you’re in, you’ll see the exact same page.

Duolingo does something different. Check it out: Here’s what their homepage looks like when you go there for the first time:

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Content Gating Example Code (HTML, CSS, JS)

Last week we looked at the best implementation that I’ve ever seen of content gating on the First Round Capital blog.

This week I’d like to take a stab at reproducing that example in simple HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The goal for this week is to give you a head start should you decide to ever experiment with gating on your blog.

Let’s dive right into the code.

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Let’s Talk About Content Gating

Ewww… Right? At least the way most people implement it. We’ll start by looking at the Wall Street Journal.

Let’s say you’re on Twitter, and a friend shares a WSJ link with you, you click it, read like 1-2 paragraphs and then you hit this bad boy:

Yuck! What a terrible experience.

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