Amber Weinberg: Freelance Web Developer specializing in semantic WordPress, Mobile, CSS and HTML5 Development

The Blog

Learning When To Scrap Your App

Posted on 02/07/11 in blog, development about , , ,

Right around a year ago I bought the domain for Codesnipp.it. At the time, it was just me and my fiancé, Nikita, working on the site. When we launched, we already had a ton of beta sign ups and we believed our idea to be unique and something the dev community was sorely missing.

Fast forward to a year later. Codesnipp.it was sitting stale, with two burnt out programmers (we had brought in a friend during the middle of the year) and then there was me with nothing to do. We had over 2,000 users but only a very small percentage were active. We barely got 40 visits a day.

This was a sad time for me. I thought for sure this site would kick off quick and be a go-to resource for developers, but it wasn’t. We weren’t making enough money to dedicate extra time to the project, and neither of the programmers wanted to continue working on the project. What was I supposed to do?

I was forced to decide whether to leave the site stale, shut it down, or redo the whole thing. Obviously it wasn’t working for our users.

I decided to scrap the current version for a new one. I tracked down one of my favorite designers, Josh Helmsley, and traded him dev time for his design skills. I partnered with one of Codesnipp.it’s best contributors, John Clarke, for programming. We’re back in business.

This time, we decided to go in with a plan. We’re working on design, usability and features. We’re working on features with value to entice premium sign ups. We’re working on something to be really proud of.

Our goal plan is to start rolling out updates while the design and UX are being worked on. We’ve already given every single user unlimited posts and we scrapped the unused invite system to allow free sign ups via Facebook or Twitter.

Knowing when to scrap your app and start over is a tough, but it’s an important thing to learn. There’s no point in supporting something no one wants to use, and it’s a disservice to your users to just leave it stale on the web.

Creating a popular app takes time and apps like dribbble, Facebook and Twitter didn’t become popular overnight, but once you’ve tried everything possible to get the app out there and it still hasn’t been accepted by the community, it’s time to move on and try something new.

Amber Weinberg specializes in clean and semantic HTML5, CSS3, responsive and WordPress development. She has over 15 years of coding experience and is super cool to work with. Amber is available for freelance work, so why not hire her for your next project?

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  • Some sound advice, always a hard decision to make to scrap something that has taken a lot of time and commitment to produce – but if you realise it could do better it’s the right decision to make.

  • Nice advice Amber, I’m currently developing a web app myself with a dev friend and although we are slowly getting there, it’s taking it’s time as we are doing it in our free time.

    Hopefully our idea takes off as we have plenty of ideas of where to take the website if it does.

    You can follow for updates though on @liistrapp

  • That’s good to hear! The current codesnippit is useful and helped me more than once, but I guess there’s room to improve. I have friends that didn’t sign up because of the inviting system (they’d rather to go to other snippets sites than ask and wait the invite) and I always felt kinda guilt with my won lifetime ninja account and little contribution.. I don’t think I would pass the 10 snippets/month mark anyways…

  • LOL Don’t feel guilty 🙂 Let your friends know if you don’t mind, that we had free signups. The invite system was only in place to control the flood of users and stop spam, but now you can freely signup with your facebook account, and in a bit, with your twitter as well.

  • Thanks, I’ll check it out 🙂

  • Callum

    Good post amber, there are enough stale websites on the net as there is. If you own a website and user activity ceases or the traffic has rapidly declined over the past few months with no signs of rising again then it should be apparent that there is a major flaw with your website and you should look at redoing some (if not all) aspects. This could be as simple as no fresh content on your website or no reason for the user to come back once they have what they need.

  • Pingback: Amber Weinberg from Codesnipp.it « ideainator()

  • Yes scrapping the app!

    I worked for a year on my site but after 2 months I knew I had to rewrite it.
    The good news is in the 3rd month it will hit 30,000 page views. But I need more like 300,000!

    Anyway the rewrite will be released as a beta after 5 weeks of work.

    The site cover Middle East News and Politics and gets its content from RSS feeds from 400+ sources.
    I am using the ATA theme and adding many custom taxonomies.

    In the new site I am using this “UBER” script to convert the feeds to posts, add taxonomies by source, content and date, convert one taxonomy to hash tags and then send tweets with home-baked short urls.

    A big part of the new site is accessing the content via taxonomy links

    If you are interested I can send you the url for v2 beta.

    Maybe you would want to consider this HYPER aggregation for your site. There are already many WordPress snippets and forums around but no site pulling the info all together in an “added value” way.

    Cheers
    Jack