From Google Sheet to #5 on ProductHunt in 10 days

By Marcel van Remmerden

The story of how I built Design Conferences 2019

“Here is a simple but efficient way to spot Enterprise Software ideas — just look at what Excel sheets are being circulated over emails inside any organization. Every single Excel sheet is a billion-dollar enterprise software business waiting to happen.”

This quote by Statspotting is something that I learned was true during my time as consultant at IBM Design, and that I still live by. So when I came across this tweet from Nuno Coelho Santos in the beginning of January, I knew I had found something.

At any time of the day over the next couple of hours, there were always between 10–15 people looking at it. And while a Google Sheet is a great start (and exactly how Nomadlist by, one of the the most famous indie maker projects, started as well), it really is not the easiest way for people to discover and process information, especially if you are looking for specific data.

So this was the perfect chance to finally try out Sheet2Site, another project by Andrey Azimov, a good friend of mine that I met via the Indie Maker community last year and finally got together with on Bali last summer.

I copied the information of the Google Sheet into the template for Sheet2Site, rearranged it a bit, looked up links to pictures for each conference, added some general information, and within just 3 hours, my prototype was online.

To see whether people would like this new version, I sent out a couple of tweets One of them was picked up by Marc Hemeon, went a bit viral and got more popular than expected.

At that moment, I knew I had somehow struck gold and immediately started getting to work. I bought the domain name and started coding.

In order to keep the effort as low as possible until I could release my first version, I decided to stick to using Google Sheets as my database, which most often is a great choice when starting off with something. Eun Kyung Yoon wrote a great article about this exact technique, which was very helpful: Google Sheets and JSON: Easy Backend

Just as it Pieter Levels made it popular in the indie maker community, I decided to go with a PHP/HTML/CSS/JavaScript approach, to not depend on any frameworks, updates from plugins or similar aspects that would keep me from shipping.

During my research of how many Design conferences there actually are, I discovered how incredibly diverse this community is once again, and actually found a couple of events I had never heard before, and totally fell in love with (e.g. SustainableUX, UXcamp Europe or the UX Designers Camp by Tatjana Zavadja)

But one conference really stood out, and that’s why I made Epicurrence the featured conference of the first week. Every year Dann Petty does an amazing job of bringing together designers from all over the world for discussions while sitting in front of a fireplace, workshops and activities such as hiking or rock climbing. This year Epicurrence will take place March 21 & 22 in Breckenridge, Colorado where participants will also get to ski and/or snowboard.

The entire coding and design aspect of the new site took me about 10 days, so on January 17th, I was ready to launch. 🚀🎉

And the launch went great, Design Conferences 2019 stayed at the #5 spot for most of the day.

Additionally, I shared the link on Designernews (#3 of the day) and Reddit (#1 on r/design and r/userexperience for multiple hours).

And just as expected, the highest number of visitors was right around the time when all the Silicon Valley designers would come back from their lunch break and get back to work.

  • Testing your ideas with one or multiple MVPs is not only a great way to see whether your idea is actually worth something, but also to generate buzz
  • Using Google Sheets as database paid off, it works great to get something on your page quickly and also delivers amazing response times
  • There is nothing more important than getting help from your community, thanks Andrey Azimov, Marc Hemeon, Dann Petty and all others! 🙏

I just started a mailing list, so I can offer people special deals and updates about the most exciting conferences (you can subscribe here).

Two other features that got requested yesterday were the ability to filter by states in the US (thanks Julia Dumas) and to search for conferences with specific speakers (thanks Mate Skako).

I will also continue adding more conferences. In case I missed something, please just send me a short tweet and I will get right to work!