Being an open community, ideas often come directly from users, or in our interactions with them or observations of them. I take care of all the design, layout, branding & final interactions, while product feature ideas were a team effort of my co-founder and I. Typically I'll sketch out a bunch of different options, then try out a few potential appoaches with high-fidelity wireframes or mocks to make sure the visuals work before collecting feedback from our users.
Planning out interactions and user flows is useful for articulating the goals for the final product to be passed on for development with clear notes for interactions. I like to take my hand-sketches and flush out variants as higher-fidelity wireframes for further consideration, pointing out some possible issues and options for implementation. I see these as living documents, and am always open to revising or adjusting based on feedback or new information.
We built devRant based on years of both listening to and participating in rants with co-workers, so devRant was designed to give an online outlet for that in-person experience. But to keep it from going too dark and negative, I decided to set the stage with the branding imagery on the landing screen as colorful and fun with a touch of edgy. The main feed is sorted by an algorithm which started as a simple time-decaying upvote ranking, but have tweaked it over time with personalization. The algo variations were A/B tested to increase our key engagement and retention metrics.
Each rant in the feed has it's own comment thread, with easy to access sharing options. We decide to only show avatar, username and pts here on the detailed rant screen vs. on the main feed to encourage content to stand on its own, unlike most social media were a user's follower count or reputation surpresses lesser known yet high quality content from ever getting seen. The profile screen highlights the user avatar, a fun feature I created since I know many developers are camera-shy and I've worked on social products where users tend to upload flags and celebrities and other less desirable imagery.
I run our product analysis efforts, using Amplitude for event and user tracking, as well as Google Analytics for web. Sometimes we pull data from the database and I run an analysis in Excel. We have an A/B testing framework in place that has allowed us to optimize our algorithm as well as more visual features. I've also set up A/B tests for the Android Play Store listing as well as with Google Analytics.
Every registered user (with over 10 earned ++'s) can create their own cartoon avatar using the avatar builder I designed and all of the unique hair styles, shirts, shoes, computers and more that allow for devs to represent themselves without risking their anonymity. To gamify the experience of earning upvotes, we lock certain avatar items at a profile ++ value, so only those who have contributed value to the community can add those items to their avatar. Because they are virtual goods and have zero inventory cost, we decided to allow items to be purchased as well.
Because we have open access to our community, a lot of our product ideas either come from suggestions from our users or are a result of listening to frustrations our users have. We also look through our analytics to see usage patterns that could suggest problems, as well as results from our A/B test. This image is of a survey I designed to validate that a problem exists to justify building our collaboration feature. Asking about past behavior is vastly more useful than hypothetical "would you use this?" type questions.
We noticed a trend in some posts that didn't have many upvotes yet had dozens of comments, where these non-rants were fun questions that engaged the community. So we took that idea and productized it into an official weekly rant prompt that we come up with each week to stir up some interesting stories and advice. Collabs is a collaboration feature we added after talking with some devs and discovering a pain-point with finding other devs to work with on open source projects. To validate the problem at scale I also ran a survey to our users before we committed to building the feature.
Most of our userbase is on mobile, but mobile-first shouldn't mean mobile-only, so we built a version of the app for web. I decided to highlight our unique avatars and color schemes on the rant post pages. I did most of the HTML/CSS getting this up and running.
I built the web app beta to be responsive so while we mainly push mobile traffic to install the native apps, it was important to have shared links to go somewhere with content vs. redirect to the app store.
All growth costs money or time, so finding cheap money/time acquisition strategies is the goal of growth hacking. I've run a variety of different experimental ad campaigns trying to find a channel that gets us registered users for a cost we are comfortable with. This has included targeted Facebook/Instagram ads, Twitter ads, Google Adwords/Admob ads, newsletter ads and even Snapchat geo-fenced ads targeting specific known hackathons and tech conferences.
As both a content marketing strategy and a way to make our users feel like we are invested in them, I have scripted, animated and voiced a cartoon series based on user generated rants ( We also started a podcast series where my co-founder and I interview world-class developers, including DHH (creator of Ruby on Rails) and Andy Hunt (author of The Pragmatic Programmer and co-writer of The Agile Manifesto). I also created a web comic series ( based on user rants, one of which made it to the front page of Reddit with 30k upvotes.
To help spread the word of devRant we let users earn free laptop stickers (devs love laptop stickers!) which we knew would end up on laptops at work places and meet ups and conferences, helping spread our brand around. We have shipped stickers to over 100 countries. The squishy stress balls came out so cute, our users fight to reach the higher pt threshold on a single rant to earn that special ball. Our usebase got so into our brand that they started created bootleg devRant t-shirts so we decided to open a swag store to sell our giveaway items as well as more expensive items like shirts that we couldn't afford to giveaway. I designed all the swag, and set up the Shopify storefront ( and have managed purchasing from vendors.
I've taken point on our PR efforts, turning some of our interesting data into data visualizations to help me pitch to press. We've had articles written about us in TNW, ADTmag, Forbes, fossBytes and more.


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