1. Charting The Course To Our Alpha Launch.

    3 years ago

    So last month was a big one for us. We launched the Dabble iPhone app into private Alpha. If any of you would like try out the app please drop your email here.

    The Long Flight 

    Building anything is tough, as anyone who’s built stuff will tell you. We spent the last few months putting together an app that was meant to be one thing, but has since morphed into something else. Much of what changed happened over a series of realizations. We wanted to document this journey.

    From San Francisco to Buenos Aires via, umm London.

    The original intent was a location-aware app to allow people to connect with other locals who share common interests. There are cool apps out there that address different variants of this need. Most happen to be dating apps, and some have quite loyal followings. However, with Dabble, we originally wanted to focus on the serendipity of discovering interesting people, without the emphasis on dating. So we set out to build an app.

    In designing the app and it’s functionality, we were shaping our product based on what was out there, rather than having users drive the need. The ‘user need’ as we understood it was a thesis at best, and a series of assumptions at worst. Secondly, the app was neither situated in the dating world, nor was it solely for your friends. It was somewhere in between, without really addressing stated user needs.

    Listen to the attendant at the gate

    Nevertheless, we forged ahead. We built the app on these assumptions. We were happy with what we created, and only after we built the thing did we decide to go out there and speak to potential users. We put together large focus groups and separated them by gender. For what we were building, we found early on that you tend to get biased results if the group was co-ed. We were awakened by the results of this exercise. In short, people wanted much more context, and more reliable content while discovering interesting things happening around them. 

    Course Correction

    Armed with this wisdom, we decided we had to go back and sketch out a new course. We mined these user sessions for ideas and functionality. More such sessions and surveys ensued. Each session helped us understand the utility these users were seeking, ways they currently address these needs and shortcomings of the various solutions out there.

    Touchdown - Please keep your cellphones off until the plane is safely at the gate

    So that’s how we got to our Alpha launch last month. It took a series of user-driven modifications. It took a lot of discipline to balance simplicity and user need. We had to pick a set of use cases and plan for the rest later, when we had more feedback. 

    Almost the entire app changed as a result. We’ll be sharing more about this new direction when we’re on firmer footing after the alpha phase.  That said, we learned a lot. And more importantly, in the time it took us to get the Alpha launched, our team got to gel, and really work in symbiosis. And that was important since half our team is near Buenos Aires, Argentina!

    The Dabble team @ Daemonic Labs, Inc.