Experimenting our way to an innovative product

When I met Ko back in 2013 at The Hacker Dojo, we were working on a project with a mutual friend. After the project was done, Ko asked me to do some design for his iOS game called “Watch and Earn”. Shortly after finishing that project we made another app called “Barometrics” which used the barometer in the iPhone 6 to crowd source hyperlocal weather. While Ko was in the process of trying to get users onboarded and keep churn low enough to make the apps profitable, he realized that there was a big gap in the market for tools to help independent app developers become successful. So after we did a bit of research looking at platforms such as Ads from the deck, we decided to design a web app that would act as an interface for an ad network catering exclusively to app developers. This was right up my alley but the budget was super tight.. Could I deliver the design inside of a week?

Adap.io • v1

The “Create Ads” screen from the affiliate ad network app I designed for Ko in all of two days.

Learning fast

Ko being the talented full stack dev that he is, launched Adap less than a month later and since we had so many geeks at our disposal working at Hacker Dojo, it was easy to get some quick and brutally honest feedback directly from our target market; App developers. And yeah, they were not so keen on the idea of an ad network given that most people hate ads and are pretty much blind to them. Although this was a bit of a setback, he was not to be put off the scent. If developers didn’t want ads, what did they need that would make their apps more succesful?

The Aha moment

Not long after launching Adap, Ko finally got it, Reviews! This aha moment came at a perfect time because it just so happened that he had signed up for the Founders Institute, a Bay Area based accelerator. Ko was still not sure which app to work on at FI so the day before he pitched his idea he sent me an email asking which of his ideas I thought had the most merit. This was my response:

Hey Ko!
  Out of your three pitches I like the idea of Favorr the most. I think you should pitch it as a kind of stack-overflow meets yelp. Talk about earning karma points and building a reputation inside of a social network for app developers and app marketing professionals. I would then share your experience building and scaling your past companies in Japan and all of the experiments you are currently running.

Favorr takes shape

Ko took my feedback to heart and not long after we pivoted from Adap.io to Favorr.io. He also asked me to design a new logo which I did using the beautiful Coquette typeface. While I was at it I delivered a new color pallete using a bright blue and charcoal that is almost black.

This was the basic user story that drove the next few steps:

User Story
Test assumptions

So now that we had a solid user story mapped, what was next?

  • Create a prototype of the simplest solution we can come up with
  • Test the prototype and validate or invalidate prior assumptions
  • If assumptions are validated, ship it!
  • So for Favorr, the problem was defined, we knew who we were designing for, the motivations were determined, behaviors understood and solutions validated.

    The current app

    The home page I designed and copy I wrote

    This is a screenshot from the “Add your app” screen with the auto-complete app search interaction active. At this point we basically used the layout, elements and interactions I designed for Adap and re-purposed them for Favorr. We took away a few elements that weren’t needed, changed the ads to apps and we were done!


  • Over 26,000 Reviews generated
  • Over 6,000 apps on the platform
  • Featured on Product Hunt with 163 up votes
  • Selected in the top 8 of the final batch of Japan’s g-startup worldwide competition
  • The app continued to onboard more and more users until Favorr got the attention of someone on Producthunt.com and was featured for an entire day! This was a big win for Favorr and has had a huge impact on the amount of reviews generated by the community!

    As the momentum continued to build, Favorr got the attention of the G-Startup Worldwide competition and made the top 8 finalists! As a finalist they were selected to present at the competition in Tokyo. Although they did not win, it was a great learning experience and provided the app with a lot of visibility from investors.

    User Reviews
    Favorr provides a great ecosystem for finding apps by other indie developers that I can try out and give honest feedback on—either gushing or constructive as the case may be. It's been a breath of fresh air for my games, getting them more attention and wonderful reviews.
    My app hit rank 5 in my category by getting reviews instantly on launch day and I owe it’s success to Favorr!
    After 1 year on the app store my app had only 2 reviews. In just 1 month after signing up, I now have 27 5 star reviews thanks to the other great app developers in the Favorr community!
    Stakeholder feedback
    Many of our users have complemented us for having a quality website with an extremely simple user interface. Favorr grew from a handful of developers to five thousand in just a few months. Great work from Lance, it’s his design thinking which made the huge difference." - Veeresh • CoFounder at Favorr

    We found that not only are reviews a huge need for developers, connecting them in community is a great way to procure feedback and get more users!

    Think I might be a good fit for one of your projects?
    Contact me