Matthew Roach

Following my gut with Hill Valleu

If you have read my previous entry or perhaps follow me on Twitter, you may know that I am currently working on a web app, Hill Valleu. Yes, the last update was a few months ago, but a lot has changed since then.

When I published that post, I was using a working copy of Hill Valleu in a beta stage. Within a week of launching it I had some friends and colleagues using the app. Feedback was good and the users seemed to like it. I knew a few items were missing and the limited users who were in all confirmed this by suggesting a few of the same enhancements. So, I got to work on these and within a couple of days I had a few new features launched to the small user base.

Everything seemed to be going great. A few app users, no major issues…so I planned to give it a couple of weeks before getting more users into the system and then a few more weeks before launching it for real. But over this period of time I noticed that my own usage of the app had dropped. This was not a good sign, when an app I was supposed to be building for myself was was not even being used by me…and it turned out the beta users had pretty much all stopped using it.


Now that’s a good question. I am not sure why others stopped using. A few said they were using other services, which is fair enough. I am trying to break into a crowded market – hard going if you do the basics, but miss a lot of features of the bigger apps.

The main question I needed to answer was why did I stop using a service I built to fill a need for myself?

After sitting down and working out the issue, I discovered the problem was I had stopped building the app for myself and started building it based on what others said they wanted. To get my heart back into the project, I made a big decision to go back to the root of why I started out on this path to begin with. To fill my need, and build something I would use everyday.

I deleted all the content and beta user data and started afresh. My next plan was to get back to where I wanted to be to start with. I ripped out a load of code, reworked the design and features to drastically reduce the complexity I had built in.

Within the week I had a skelton app but up online and I have been using it everyday since, slowly tweaking little bits here and there, adding couple new little enhancments, and have a list of the basic feature set I want in the app before I let anyone else in to the system.

To see the current state and to get a preview of the all new reworked Hill Valleu, go over to the website – and if you like what you see and would like to hear when I launch the app drop your email in the box at the bottom of the page.