I started November with the goal of launching an Apple Watch app for Happyfeed by Thanksgiving (or technically, the day before, November 24th). Typically, I find 2-3 week development sprints to be the best way to motivate myself!
Why an Apple Watch app?
Working on the watch app was the second time I've tried working in SwiftUI too. There's a lot of buzz around the language and it certainly seems worth building a bit of competency. (At the very least, I have a lot of opinions about it now.)
Curious about the watch app? Here's the blog post about functionality, screenshots, and more:
I've been taking a break from freelance work for the past month and have been able to focus on Happyfeed nearly full-time during October. That level of focus has helped me realize that the core experience had a lot of room for improvement.
Ranging from some photo updates to wrapping up the Next.js rebuild of the website, here's what I was able to accomplish over the past month:
I've been continuing to experiment with ways to boost word-of-mouth growth by encouraging sharing on social media platforms. If you see an amazing memory from a year or two ago, wouldn't you want to share it?
Well, it's up to Happyfeed to actually present memories in a sharable way. Since most platforms are visual, I'm trying out a new "update layout" button to show memories in a variety of ways.
Here's a demo:
Last week I launched a deceptively complex feature for Happyfeed - the ability to share each past memory with a unique URL. One of my biggest motivators was thinking about intuitive ways to spread by word of mouth (currently the main source of growth). How could I supercharge existing sharing and make the experience better overall?
In the old version, you could directly send text and images on iOS. This introduced several problems:
Share Links solve those issues and more:
Honestly, I was a little worried about the reaction I might get from Happyfeed users. Would a URL feel weird or less secure than just copying and pasting text? Aren’t they going to prefer to just copy and paste the text directly from their moment?
I think it’s ultimately a better solution for everyone. Sharing a link tells others exactly where the memory came from, it saves you any extra cognitive load from fixing or changing the text, and works perfectly with social platforms. The app is still completely private by default too.
Excited to see where this goes 🚀
As part of a marketing push, I submitted Happyfeed for coverage in AlleyWatch. They exclusively cover startups in New York so it was a perfect fit for the company.
Rather than going for the largest outlet you can think of (TechCrunch, NYTimes, etc.), it's worth seeing what local publications might be covering your space. As huge as New York feels, it's a lot easier to reach out to a city-specific publisher!
Here's the write-up if you're curious:
Another quick tip: Don't change your app icon while you are waiting for an article to publish... this came out a day after I uploaded the recolored icon 🤦🏼♂️
For the past few years, I've been sending users a monthly review email. It pulls together some random photos and top stats from the app - sort of inspired by emails you might get from Strava or even Uber.
I've been wanting to add this feature to the app for over a year. And it's been requested a few times. There are a bunch of benefits:
The main part of this update is the "Image Grid" that allows you to make a 2x2 grid of random images from the month. I've built a "share drawer" that lets you share it anywhere from SMS to Instagram stories.
Inspired by Timehop, there's a little watermark on the image too, to help drive downloads back to the app.
And so far, so good! On Feb 1 and 2 I saw a big boost in downloads, likely from SMS sharing.
Here's the full blog post with images and everything: https://www.happyfeed.co/blog/monthly-joy-recaps
One of the biggest issues with the social component of Happyfeed, Pods, is that you need friends to create one. Gratitude journaling isn't for everyone so a lot of people were struggling to find friends or family to join. Or maybe they just wanted to try it out first!
Now users can join a "Random Pod" in which they are paired with other Happyfeeders from around the world. It's fun to think that someone in the Midwest could be sharing memories with someone in Japan or New Zealand.
Technically, it wasn't a ton of work (thanks to a very well-thought-out initial build of Pods). I did have to build an internal dashboard to manage placing people into these Pods. Someday I'll need to automate the process of picking members and naming.
So far, I've made 28 Random Pods, which means over 200 users 🚀
I've been struggling with retention for the past couple of months due to what I assumed were external factors (the election, COVID, etc.) but after a few emails from users, I realized it was a bit more fixable.
The silver lining? While these bugs were happening, I spent a couple of months building new features and AB tests to improve retention. Now I'm seeing better retention than even between the fixes and the features 😄
Lesson: Don't ever blame external factors on your metrics. There's almost always something going on and you need ways to discover these things quickly.
After about 3 days of development, Happyfeed is now completely compatible with Dark Mode on iOS!
Since gratitude journaling is typically an evening practice, I'm hoping that users will be especially inclined to enjoy the darker colors in the app. Less eye strain -> calmer nights -> happier users. It was fun to build a couple of Easter eggs like a welcome screen image that changes based on dark mode.
I was surprised by how well adaptive colors work in Swift, and luckily, I've been using variables for most of the colors in Happyfeed from the start. (Made this whole process a LOT easier.)
Yesterday I launched a feature on Happyfeed that I've been wanting to build for the better part of the year. Now when you add a moment, there's an option to add up to 3 photos. The interface is similar to Instagram (swipe left and right to view).
I use the app daily and am always frustrated that it's 1 photo per moment. Having to post a bunch of different moments for a hike (for example) is a huge pain. So I'm personally thrilled that this is done!
Technically, it was a complicated challenge too. I had to:
The other huge benefit to this feature is that it's an excuse to bump up premium prices. (Which I've also been meaning to do forever.)
I'm going to email all iOS users to tell them about the feature and mention the price increase. I'll give them 2 weeks to get grandfathered into the current pricing and (hopefully) see a nice bump in subscriptions. I'll report back!
I first got into positive psychology while working on another startup, to deal with depression. When that ended I thought it'd be fun to "digitize" my journaling habit and Happyfeed has just continued to grow since then.