design with dave

Let's get better at web design together.

Weekend Launch:

This past week, Nathan Barry and Amy Hoy both built and launched products in 24-hours. If you didn’t catch it as it was going down, their blog posts chronicling the launches are here (Nathan) and here (Amy). It was really interesting and inspiring to watch a couple experienced online entrepreneurs launch something so quickly.

So, with that in mind, I’m putting myself to a similar challenge – to build and launch something by the end of this weekend.

I am going to build a service to help people follow through on their projects, with the goal of getting 5 paying customers, by the end of tomorrow. I figure since Nathan and Amy have launched real products before, but I haven’t, I’m going to give myself a few extra hours ;)

I’m using Trello to track what’s finished and what still needs to be done. The board is public and you can follow along here:

I’ll keep this post updated as I go.

P.S. If you think this is cool, tweet about it! #suprninja

1:30pm EST
Getting started! I’ve one cheat working in my favor: I already have the domain registered (.ninja domains were only 99 cents yesterday, and I snagged Working on filling up the Trello board’s To Do section.

2:10pm EST
DNS should be set up for, but it will take a little while to propagate. Hopefully not the full 48-hours. I also uploaded the most barebones of barebones placeholder pages so I can tell when DNS has figured itself out. Off to research payment systems.

2:35pm EST
Stripe account is set up, but SSL is required before I can accept payments through my site (DNS isn’t resolving yet, either).

3:15pm EST
I set up an account with SSLMate, a super awesome service that lets you buy SSL certificates through the command line. It saves a ton of hassle if you’re on a Linux server. Next step is to buy the cert. But first, an update…

I thought I should write a little more about what I’m planning to do, too.

The plan for

I already mentioned that I want to help people finish projects. So here’s why. This has been a struggle of mine for a while – I start tons of little things, but very few of them are ever really completed. I’ve got this Projects folder on my laptop that’s just a graveyard of Things That Never Came To Be.

So what I’m saying is – failing to follow through on things is a pain point I understand. And I’m guessing that a lot of other people have this problem too.

So, with, the plan is to offer a service that will help keep people motivated. It’s a very personalized service, one-on-one, me and you. You sign up for a batch of “checkups” – little nuggets of time, where I will contact you however you prefer and spend a couple minutes chatting with you about your project. You tell me how it’s going, whether you’re making progress, and if there are things you’re stuck on. I’ll offer whatever advice I can and prod you with a Motivation Stick if it seems like you’re giving up.

For contact options, the plan is to offer both voice and text options. Google Hangouts, Skype, text messages, emails, Twitter, however you want to interact. Each checkup will be a quick, 5-minute call, or a small email exchange. Pricing-wise, I’m thinking a voice call will be ~$10 and a text interaction will be ~$3. They can be daily, a few times a week, once a month, whatever you want. You’ll pick a slot from the available times and I’ll contact you at your chosen time.

I’m thinking of starting off by accepting a very small group of beta users, 5 to 10. This will keep it manageable and allow me to offer personalized service while learning how this will work.

If you’ve got any thoughts, feedback, think the idea sucks, whatever – leave a comment down below or tweet me

3:55pm EST
Tried to buy an SSL cert, but they do this pesky thing where they want to verify the buyer by sending an email to an email address at the domain. So I had to set up email for, and once that’s live (waiting for MX records to propagate), I’ll take care of SSL. Also, sent out a mailing to my list (hi guys!). In the meantime, I’ll work on sales copy.

6:10pm EST
The first rough draft of the sales copy is live. There’s no design yet. It’s posted up at Depending on how well far the DNS changes have made it, you may or may not be able to see it yet. One friend reports that he can see it, but I can’t see it myself.

The service is meant to be available in a configurable package. I’m not sure how to present this as a buyable thing, though. If you’ve got any ideas, let me know.

6:50pm EST
SSL cert has been created and installed. I could start messing around with Stripe now, but instead I’m going to work on the sales page design. Definitely more important.

7:40pm EST
Working on the design for the sales page. It’s going slower than I hoped, but I’m making progress. It’s time for a dinner break. Back in a bit!

9:22pm EST
Back to work after a delicious dinner. I got some feedback on the sales copy (thanks guys), made some edits, and now I’m back to working on the design. I still can’t hit the page from my home network, but I can hit it over 4G, so DNS is at least half-way functional.

1:20am EST
It’s been a long day, but a productive one! The design is basically finished, and live on the site right now. There’s some more to do for responsiveness, and I’ll take care of that tomorrow. For now, it’s bedtime. See you all in the morning.

Day 2, 10:30am
I’m back at it after some breakfast and a much-needed coffee. I’m going to start with making the site more mobile-friendly with some media queries, and then work on finishing up the offer section.

Day 2, 11:20am
The design responds nicely to resizing now. I have guests stopping by shortly, so I’m taking a break and I’ll be back in a few hours to finish up.

Day 2, 6:00pm
I’ve spent the last couple hours working on designing and writing the offer section of the page. You can see what I’ve got at, and let me know what you think. Current plan is to let them pick a contact method, and multiple times, and then I’ll just sort it out after they order, manually. I’ll revisit later if it becomes a hassle.

Right now, it’s time for a dinner break.

Day 2, 8:15pm
I’m back at it now, reading up on how to integrate Stripe payments. I was hoping to avoid having to write any server-side code, but it seems like I’ll have to do at least a little, to get Stripe working. Only a few hours left though!

Day 2, 12:05am
The page is live, but the payment links are in test mode right now.

Day 2, 1:00am
I ran into a snag with the way I was submitting the payment form, making it difficult to know what to charge the buyer. That’s fixed now (had to use custom Stripe Checkout instead of the simple one). It’s very close to ready – all that’s missing is the confirmation email to the buyer. That’s pretty important.

It’s getting late though, and I’m getting a bit bleary-eyed at this point. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the challenge in time. But no matter! I’ll finish it tomorrow evening.

Day 3, 9:00pm
The site is live! Payments are working (verified with a small transaction).

Check it out:


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