Some of the FlowReader team and other members of Wikidi projects will be speaking at  the ’14 Developers Conference on June 21st, so the office has been buzzing with preparations. With presentations about FlowReader’s development on the brain and our first birthday coming up next week as well, it’s been a great opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come since our launch.

The last year has been filled ups, downs, milestones and mistakes – we learned a lot about FlowReader and ourselves as a team.

Here are 3 big takeaways we want to share with you:

Press coverage can work too well.

flowreader post on lifehacker

The day after we launched, we were lucky enough to be featured in a post on Lifehacker. It was a proud moment for us, but it also brought about the biggest challenges we’ve faced as a team.

As a result of the post, new users started visiting and signing up for FlowReader.

Too many.

In the hours after the post was published, we watched FlowReader slow to a crawl and despite our best efforts, eventually crash.

It was both an exciting and frustrating time for our team. On one hand, it tested our ability to communicate and solve a serious problem. On the other hand, it felt like a missed opportunity.

Our lucky post had turned into a major setback. We weren’t prepared for the heavy load, and we paid the price.

Lesson: Getting press isn’t worth it if you’re not properly prepared. Always test more than you think ahead of media coverage and have an action plan in place in case you run into problems.

Use your problems to get better.

Product development can sometimes feel like a revolving door of issues that need to be solved. We figure out one thing and a new issue shows up. But here’s the thing – problems aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

frustration pencil

Image via flickr

Sure, they’re not ideal but as any business can tell you – they happen to everyone.

It’s easy to feel discouraged when people have problems or experience downtime, but as a startup, it’s important to learn how to use problems to your advantage. How you respond as a team not only impacts the way people experience issues with your service, but it also forces you to work harder and learn from your mistakes.

For example, the performance problems we faced after our launch not only pushed us to come up with solutions faster, but they also revealed areas for improvement that we would never have noticed before we were live. 

Lesson: Use problems as an opportunity to grow as a service and a team. Finding weaknesses in your product will only help you move forward. 

Details matter. A lot.

For the most part, our team are engineers by trade. We love to build software, we love code, and sometimes, it’s hard for us all to focus on all the critical details of marketing, design, and user experience. This has been something we’ve struggled with – remembering that while we want to build out, it’s important to polish everything.

redesigned flowreader

We’ve come a long way.

We want users to be able to connect with not just FlowReader as a product, but with our team as well. Since our launch, we’ve done a complete redesign, cleaned up all of our existing features, and streamlined our customer support efforts. And it’s an ongoing process. While this has taken time away from creating new features, it’s something we feel has been more than worth it.

Lesson: Less is more. Polish the important details before you build out. 

These are just a few of the lessons we learned over the last year, and we’re looking forward to what the next year will hold for us!

Do you have any feedback for us? 

Share with us in the comments or on Facebook. You can also tweet to us directly, @flow_reader.