Product Development
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Product Development

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Color codes: Monthly Progress, New Feature , Guide/Explainer, Quarterly Update, Yearly Update

February 12, 2021: Q4 Product Update

In Q4, we conducted two separate audits to review the process of software development projects. Vercel, the creators of NextJS, audited our codebase to help prioritize which projects and approaches will improve page performance. Additionally, I audited the quality of every function marked as shipped in 2020. The overall learning was that we should ship less new things and spend a higher percentage of our time improving what we do offer.  Nevertheless, we did still ship some new things, and have some cool things coming up this year.

Content Management System projects shipped in 2020 Q4:

  • New Signup Flow - This new flow has been performing much better. It includes login/signup in addition to email, and educates the visitor on our value to readers, writers, and brands.
  • Tech Company News Pages - The first 913 pages are live and dynamically updating the curated story lists via Hacker Noon mentions and the Bing News API.
  • Paid Expert Video Calls Beta - This is in partnership with Superpeer. We are exploring more ways to revenue share with the contributing writer.
  • Tech Brief Beta - Readers can subscribe to tag-specific content via newsletters. Rolling out in waves.
  • Internal Stats Beta - the first version of our internals stat page is live. Lots to add.
  • Image Hosting Optimizations - Reduced the image hosting file size of most images, and are in the process of implementing Next/Image by NextJs for better client side loading.
  • Killed Mailchimp, Moved to SendGrid and Amazon SES - Mailchimp simply isn’t good at scaling. Now we’re much better set up to scale up not only our newsletters, but also our activity based emails.
December 22, 2020: November Product Progress
  • Lazy loading progress. Most of 2020 library lazy loading.
  • Slogging progress. Working on a 2nd repo.
  • KPI progress. More charts. More data.
  • New onboarding. Better flow. Data driven.
  • Launching first NPM module. Easier state management for react apps.
  • Added book a call button. New revenue source.
  • Made progress in trello. New opportunities fleshed out.
  • Tech Brief progress. Onboarding + subscribe on tag page coming.
  • More personalization coming soon. Customized homepage build from subscriptions.
  • Realtime view coming soon.
  • Emoji activity on homepage.
December 21, 2020: Hacker Noon Experts

We launched experts.hackernoon.com, a feature that allows top contributors to get paid by signing up for our Book a Call Program. More details in David's annoucement here.

December 9, 2020: Tech Company News Page

November 18, 2020: October Product Progress
  • Slogging v1 - Off to a great start! #slogging-beta very active
  • Tech Brief v1 Solid infra. Sent 14k emails so far
  • Company news page v1 - Launched. Good foundation to iterate
  • Inline comments design v1 of new inline comments/sharing available
  • Behavioral analytics v1 - New tool for visualizing/optimizing funnels
  • Image performance - New plan to speed things up
  • Upcoming - Grammarly, mobile planning, signup workflow, editor overhaul...
October 28, 2020: Q3 Product Update

We’ve built a lot of quality software designed to move our three main metrics, aka Time Reading, Words Published, and Money Made. More details available in the attached slides.

Lots of opportunities ahead:

Slogging

The Slack blogging app. One command to curate your most marketable Slack discussions into Hacker Noon story drafts. Have been using it internally. Can read a couple posts here, and see a preview of Slogging.com in our slide deck.

Tech Company News Pages (beta)

Public facing pages for top 1000 tech companies. We are using the Bing News API to pull in stories around the web to put next business information and mentions in Hacker Noon stories.

Tech Brief, supscription + improved reader onboarding

readers can sign up/in and subscribe to tag-specific newsletters, amongst other reader-friendly functions.

Paid Video Calls with Tech Experts

this in partnership with Superpeer. A preview of this marketplace is Experts.Hackernoon.com with the password is “zoo”. It’s exciting to create new business opportunities to rev share with contributors.

Improved performance and speed

In talks with a number of experts and technology solutions to improve the performance of our site.

Internal Stats Level Up

We have an admin internal stats system, in addition to data being stored in Firebase, Vercel, Algolia and Google Analytics. Going into 2021, we are prioritizing some robust improvements to better understand our data.

October 14, 2020: September Product Progress

Slogging progress: We are nearing a closed beta and will start internally publishing Slack threads soon.

Reading History: Users will be able to opt into a feature that allows us to track their reading history. They’ll have a timeline to view history for reference. This will also feed into recommendations.

Recommendations: We’re starting with simple algorithm to start surfacing stories based on co-occurring tags cross referenced with tags users read most. Then we’ll track engagement and iterate.

Emojis: The first version of emojis is live in the wild and users who give an emoji are far more engaged than users who don’t. More iteration is needed. (word-level reactions and comments)

September 1, 2020: August Product Update
  • Subscriptions
  • Emoji reactions
  • Auth overhaul
  • Reader onboarding
  • Image conversion
  • Tech support
  • Bookmarks
  • Editor UI/UX improvements
  • 1k pageviews email
  • Github Gist embeds
  • Noonies!
August 31, 2020: New Inline Emoji Reactions (Mozilla Fix the Internet partnership)
August 13, 2020: Noonies Weighted Voting explained

Hacker Noon writers' votes weigh the most. Here's why.

August 7, 2020: Q2 Product Update

The Hacker Noon product team had a strong quarter. With our cleaner infrastructure detailed in our previous shareholder letter,  we were able to accelerate our rate of deployment significantly, largely via automatically (as opposed to manually) deploying features, as well as adding one more part-time back-end developer to the team. We are so happy with the work of Richard Kubina, who’s a referral from our Full-Stack Developer Austin Pocus, that we made him a full time offer in Q3, which he accepted :-)

In 2020 Q2, here is list of what we released, and one sentence about each:

  • The Noonies v2: our custom voting product at Noonies.Tech (voting opens on August 13th).
  • Story Archives: all stories published on a date accessible by clicking any date under each story title (example)
  • Tech Stories Tab Chrome Extension: Chrome is Hacker Noon readers’ most popular browser and by installing this extension (open sourced here), users can get the latest stories from Hacker Noon when opening a new tab.
  • Sticky Story Headline: removing barrier to reading even further, this feature emphasizes the story title, author accreditation, and a less annoying, more reader friendly sticky ad (example, scroll down to see how design functions).
  • Single Story Stats Page: easily accessible under each story title for writers & editors, this new stat page also includes a pixelated graph that showcases how well the story does over time compared to average peak performance (example).
  • Backup System: It is a lot easier to move fast and break things if you can go back in time to restore how things work - now we can!
  • Time Reading Created on Profile Page: this feature emphasizes the value created by each writer via hackernoon.com (time reading, one of our 3 core metrics) front & center on their profile (example)
  • Coil Web Monetization Integration: any writer can now add meta tag to their profile to be streamed micropayments from Coil subscribers (2.6k users have done so)
  • About Page: all you need to know about Hacker Noon in one page.
  • Open Sourced Emojis: Hacker Noon’s pixelated designs are now open sourced on Github (here & here).
  • Admin/Editor Improvement: we continue to improve our app, which manages hundreds of submissions per day (reject, improve, schedule or publish), on top of 22k+ tags, 12k+ writer profiles, sponsor payments for BAA, and content curation & distribution.
  • Commenting Leaderboard: ranking all comments on Hacker Noon; however, as we are transitioning off Disqus commenting system, this is currently turned off.
  • Increased Testing: Reliability, reliability, reliability - we’ve built more testing systems with Sentry, Hotjar, and more importantly, we’ve been writing end-to-end tests that simulate user behavior with Cypress.

Overall, each of these product developments help move at least one of our main core metrics: time reading, words published, or money made.

August 5, 2020: Embed Github Gists

A how to guide from Richard here.

July 30, 2020: June/July Product Update
July 13, 2020: Noonies 2.0 is here!

An all improved Noonies, Hacker Noon's annual award is now live at noonies.tech.

June 24, 2020: Tech Stories Tab

New ways to discover top Hacker Noon stories are now available Read "Building a New Tab Chrome Extension with Zero Dependencies" by Dane here.

June 16, 2020: Guide to monetize

How to easily install the meta tag to earn micropayments from Coil here. For writers only.

June 10, 2020: Web Monetization Partnership with Coil

Via our partnership with Coil, Hacker Noon writers can now accept micropayments via Coil subscribers. Read more here.

May 12, 2020: May Product Progress
Migrate CDN to NextJS (Vercel)
  • Automated deployments
  • Design/Layout migration
  • SEO indexing challenges
  • Analytics hoopla
  • Story 404 bug
  • Sitemap
  • Sentry
  • Random bug fixes
  • Codeface fix
Improvements to app.hackernoon.com
  • Story backups
  • Codepen & Codesandbox
  • “Ripping shit out at breakneck speed” -Austin
  • Story type filtering for editors
  • Scheduled publishing
  • Better documentation
  • Single story stats page (WIP)
Other Product Changes
  • Putting Annotations on ice
  • Migrated Collections to NextJS...then a new app
  • Hired Richard to enrich our data and augment our infra
  • Improved GA integration
  • Designed schema for analytics
  • Built comment leaderboard (leaders.hn)
  • A/B Testing on Google Optimize
  • Collaborating with Coil to monetize the web
  • Testing Bonus.ly
May 5, 2020: Embeds Explained

Just copy paste and hit enter to embed CodePen, CodeSandBox, Tweets or Youtube. Simple as that. Guide here.

April 21, 2020: April Product Update

Lots of bugs fixing and major infrastructure updates! Read Austin's recap here.

April 20, 2020: Q1 2020 Product Update

From CDN update to annotation work. Read Austin's recap here.

Here's recap from shareholders letter:

We’re focused on making a better place for technologists to read, write and publish.

Our big release of the quarter was dubbed NextGreen: a redesign and re-architecture built with the NextJS framework on the story page, homepage, search page and tagged page. The story page is where the vast majority of our traffic lives, and while we’ve been testing the new design work live for the last three weeks on production, average time on page is up 14% on the story page. Almost as importantly, this new architecture streamlines deployment across our CDN, cloud functions and application, so future iterations can deploy significantly faster.

Redacted

More Product Initiatives that are made live this quarter:

FunctionNeedleExampleNotesEarly returns
Ad by Tag
Revenue
Ad placement relevancy to content
First couple Beta payings customers are live. Bugs worked out.
Story Scheduling
Words Published
Optimizing the rate of publishing
Average stories published per day is 29. This helps kept the editors sane.
Commenting Evolution
Words Published
Scroll down to end of a story
Integrated Disqus and added our own custom emojis
More learnings about what social proof matters
Deeper Algolia Integration
Time Reading
Search anything on site
Rich media data  for stories on all curation pages and filters  on the search page
More value for curation decisions

Product Initiatives that are currently in alpha and beta:

FunctionNeedleExampleNotes
Collections
Time Reading
Curated reading lists from Hacker Noon & around web
Noonies V2
Revenue
Iterate on last year’s custom voting app
Web Monetization
Words Published
site source code
Real time streaming payments from readers to writers to charities
Collaborative Editing V1
Words Published
Unlisted draft links & in talks to white label markup.io
Subscriptions V1
Time Reading
n/a
Logic to subscribe to tags and authors

We did run a beta experiment hosting annotations and inline comments on a blockchain, partnering with GUN decentralized peer to peer database. It is not ready to deploy to all users, so we are exploring multiple approaches to micro-content hosting and curation within our user facing experience. GUN is still providing page load performance insights. Curious about how text hosting evolves over time.

We also did experience some spammy visitors - so that was a fun cat and mouse game that resulted in more spam prevention implementations. Lots of free roblox codes. New users now earn writer functionality, like profile advertisements, after they spend time reading and writing. Spam management never ends, it’s part of running a large community, and now our system now has a bit more protection baked in.

In the long term, we have a lot of options to be a better place for technologists to read, write, and publish. Once Hacker Noon the site is a profitable growth machine, we could explore questions like, how is it possible to use our software to serve more of the internet? Additionally, we remain excited about the creation of token generated by time reading created.  But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. In the short term, our product team is iterating on how curation works (collections and reactions), improving the writer experience (text editor interactions and human editor interactions), and building out the reader account experience (subscriptions and recommendations).  As our site is historically about 75% desktop and 25% mobile readership - and other many text content destinations (especially in tech)  are closer to 50% desktop and 50% mobile - we are likely to move our attention to a mobile application later in the year.  But we do operate with the product funnel approach.

April 3, 2020: April Product Progress
  • Frontend re-architecture
    • faster iterations, more reliable updates - IFT
    • Redesigns on story, tagged, profile and home pages, comments - IFU
    • Writer ad on story - IFU
    • Ads by tag (on tagged and and story pages) - NR
  • Progress on collections
  • Pausing on annotations
  • More spam prevention
  • Story scheduling
  • Dashboard admin
    • Ad management, homepage curation - IFT
March 10, 2020: March/February Product Progress
New:
  • Single Template for Tag Page
  • Spam Prevention System
  • Unlisted Draft Links
  • Switch to Trello System
  • Coil Discovery Work
  • Ad by Tag (beta now)
  • Annotations (beta now)
Upcoming:
  • Collections v1
  • Architecture Improvements
  • Collaborative Editing v1
  • Post Scheduler
  • Subscribe by Tag
  • Author CTA on Story Page
  • Notifications Tab
  • Reactions Tab
  • Better Internal Stats Page
Jan 27, 2020: Every single PRs made in 2019

Read Austin's article here. We did A LOT.

Jan 9, 2020: 2019 Year End Product Update

We ship a lot of features in 2019, including building a CMS from scratch. Read Dane's Update here. Recap from shareholders' letter here:

Q4 2019, we integrated with Unsplash, Algolia, Google Analytics, and the GUN blockchain. We also launched dark mode. The GUN integration is our first use of blockchain technology in the Hacker Noon publishing platform. Starting in Q1 2020, this open source decentralized database will power our annotations and inline commenting. For the first time, we will be putting some content on the blockchain. With this integration, users browsers can contribute storage and anyone can also run their own “miner” on their computer or a cloud, distributing some of our hosting costs to our readership.

For the full view of your year in product development, please read our CPO Dane Lyons’ Product Update 2019-2020. In summary, we now have the initial experience live for our core users: writers, readers, editors, sponsors and admins; and integrated with many great technologies like: Google Cloud, SlateJS, Algolia, Filestack, Unsplash, Google Analytics, Discourse, GUN, Twitter, and more.

Building a digital product is always a trade-off between inventing the wheel, re-inventing the wheel and figuring out a way to plug in an existing solution — all while making the thing feel like just one quality thing. We're getting there. Very excited to build more this year.

We will continue investing heavily in improving and iterating on the core product experience, reading and writing, while also launching more curation tools, such as annotations and collections, to drive account creation and micro contributions.

December 23, 2019: Dark Mode is here!

Built by Dane, watch Kien's video here.

December 11, 2029: Unsplash Integration

Writers can now use unlimited images from Unsplash! Read here.

October 4, 2019: Google Analytics Integration

We did all writers stats via GA. Read Austin's story here.

August 20, 2019: Hacker Noon RSS

You can get the latest Hacker Noon stories the old fashion way here.

August 19, 2019: Q2&3 2019 Product Update
Product Now

Visit HackerNoon.com and click Get Started :-)

“Startups occasionally make the mistake of treating a launch as a finish line moment even though the name literally and appropriately implies the opposite,” said Hacker Noon CPO Dane Lyons. We're proud of what we've accomplished in our MVP but our best work is ahead of us, stay tuned.”

Here’s a breakdown of what the product offers now (read more):  press release

  • For Writers: Story Editor, Writer Profile Page, Writer Dashboard and, Story Stats
  • For Readers: Homepage, Tagged Pages, Story Page, Commenting, Newsletters,and Reading History.
  • For Sponsors: Sitewide Billboard and Brand as Author.

We are a functioning and independent tech publishing platform :-)

Product Ahead
image

My message to the team was “Take a deep breath. Improvement is greater than expansion.”  We are moving from a product roadmap to a product funnel.  For the rest of the year, we will be putting more emphasis on building for the reader (and then turning those readers into contributors). Smooth emoji reactions and slick annotations are two functionalities that we’ve started building and have not yet released. We also started building a much more robust stats page for writers, including past stories statistics, click counts on their calls to action, RSS traction, headline impression stats, and “around the web” mentions traffic. As we’ve retained and even improved on traffic to site, it is now time to show writers how all of their stories still get all the eyeballs they deserve, and then some 👀 👀 👀

Noonies

In July, we launched The Noonies: the tech’s greenest awards, built to recognize the best and worst people and products of the internet. With an exclusive redacted sponsorship from Stream, there were over 55k votes cast for 457 nominees across 50 award categories. The campaign was a resounding success. See 2019’s Noonies winners. It was fun. Great to see the community make their cases for their favorite Noonie nominees. Overall, we're also excited that we got our feet wet in custom voting technology. We look forward to contributing more to how the internet curates, ranks and distributes content. Next year will be an even bigger and better Noonies next year.

August 13, 2019: Why Hacker Noon Traded the Roadmap for a Product Funnel

Read more about our product building philosophy via Dane's "manifesto" here.

July 26, 2019: 75 technologies used to build Hacker Noon 2.0

Math is a tech too okay. Read full list here.

July 14, 2019: the first annual Noonies is here!

Built by Storm Farrell. Read the annoucement here.

April 13, 2019: Q1 2019 Product Update

We did not hit our goal to launch 2.0 in its entirety in March, but we did launch a very important component of it (see below). Our timeline was a little ambitious, and we decided to build additional infrastructure to better mobilize the community and protect us against uncertain market conditions.

Redacted

We did launch the Hacker Noon Community in March. We made this strategic choice because:

  • Discourse, the open source software we built the forum with, will also power our commenting system for Hacker Noon 2.0. An intuitive & powerful commenting system is a challenge faced by any Content Management System, and we are happy to integrate this smoothly with our community forum. It’s a step toward hosting more of the discussion around the story.
  • In a time of transition, the value in mobilizing your community can not be underestimated. We’ve moved some of our most dedicated authors, editors, sponsors, and investors to have meaningful discussions on the forum.
  • Last but not least, we now have 1,500+ Hacker Noon 2.0 accounts before the product is complete. This is possible because we invested in building SSO (single-sign-on) to authenticate users on multiple subdomains. This took longer than anticipated.

On the product front, we’ve made great progress on our core infrastructure and design. Here are some pieces of our upcoming publishing platform built in Q1:

  • Homepage - Our homepage has and will go through many iterations. This is a version that explores quite a few new elements to consider. Here is another version we tested.
  • Tag Page - A few options we’re working on for the tag page.
  • Story Editor - Here is the initial prototype of our story editor built using SlateJS.
  • Infrastructure - Austin Pocus gave a dev talk about how we’ll use Firebase to power 2.0. This will leverage our $100k grant from Google.
  • Custom Emojis - We’ve started designing our own retro emoji set. We even had a little fun and created an emoji builder which we might eventually open up to the community to crowdsource future emojis.
  • Sticky Bio Prototype - We’re exploring ways to promote our contributors and their stories. In this version, we attach a bio to the bottom of the screen. It is expandable to reveal more stories by the author. Another version of a sticky bio that would live in the left margin of a story.
  • Emoji Giving Prototype - We believe claps and likes are too binary of a story reaction. This will enable readers to emotionally react, in context with very little effort. Here’s a Dev talk of how Dane has been iterating on this.
  • Brand-as-Author Bio - We plan to distinguish brands from authors in 2.0. Here is a design that explores using blue for brands and green for authors.
  • Side Bio Design - We don’t plan on launching 2.0 with a side bio, but here are a few designs we’ve considered.
April 12, 2019: SSO (single sign on) via Discourse

Readers sign in to hackernoon.com via our integration with Discourse! Read more here.

Something we didn't cover? Search the site by clicking 🔍 at the top right of any page. Or email us at support@hackernoon.com ✌️