I built a tool to verify demand for new features

My gym-nut friend had an idea for a workout buddy finder app and approached me to build it (think tinder for finding a workout partner). It’s a clever mobile app that increases motivation for gym goers and differentiates itself in the market with a business model that focusses on gym owners rather than the users themselves. You can check it out here: GoGymBuddy

Throughout the development process we’d meet every week to discuss the architecture and refine details. During those meetings, we’d spitball ideas and find ourselves coming up with new features that would improve the app.

Each one of these new features would delay the initial app launch, add more complexity, and the reality was that we didn’t know for sure if the extra work would actually make the app better or not, we were guessing at what we thought users would want.

From the initial core idea of tinder for gym buddies, we ballooned out to incorporate leaderboards, badges, an events system for gyms to create, manage & advertise their events, and more. Eventually we realised we were guilty of feature creep and decided to launch our core app as soon as possible so that we could get real users and test the market. On reaching that point, we could consider adding more features based on feedback from our users, meaning we wouldn’t put hours into coding features that people didn’t want.

I suggested putting all our current and future feature ideas into a Google Sheet that our users could vote on. My business partner asked me how users would vote for the suggestions they wanted to see. The only way was to hope users would delete the current vote number, add one and type it in. Defintely not ideal. So I decided to see if I could build something quick & simple using Firebase and in JavaScript. The result was my first ever Webapp, the GoGymBuddy request board.

It was barebones and ugly, but it solved our problem. Now we knew exactly which features would return the biggest value for real users.

We released our gym app in beta and asked users to test it out. Many of our testers, especially those that ran their own businesses, wanted to know more about the suggestion tool, and if we could build one for them too. That’s when I realised there might be a market for the tool as a standalone product and VoteDock was born.

From the initial GoGymBuddy request board, I added an account system allowing businesses to sign-up with multiple team members and create request boards from a dashboard. In addition, I built the ability for board visitors to submit suggestions, reorder items, view what they had already voted on, even between sessions, automatic email notifications, the ability for businesses to ‘respond’ to suggestions & security features to mitigate vote manipulation.

VoteDock is currently used by a number of businesses to manage feature requests & better allocate their resources. If you’d like to learn more you can check it out here: VoteDock.com.