Status update - 2021-04

Console status update - Apr 2021: Beta Console, developer interviews, and newsletter tweaks.
Status update - 2021-04

This is a monthly series reporting on how things are going at Console. This is our fourth post which will go into what happened in April.

Focus for April

I wrote last month:

The remainder of March has been building our first web tool for launch in April. The website design has seen a few tweaks as well. These will continue in April. In setting release deadlines there are always things that you don't get to on the first iteration, so we're going to spend some time coming back to those. So far Console has been all about our email newsletter. In April we will launch a web tool to build on and complement what we send out each week.

So how did we do?

Beta Console

In April we launched our first web tool, Beta Console. This is a live list of every developer tool beta & early access release. We track all these programs as part of putting together our weekly newsletter. The most interesting 2-4 get highlighted in the email, but there are many more we don't have space to include.

Everything appears on Beta Console. It's backed by the same Google Sheets we use to run our editorial process so there is a single data source, and it provides a filterable view of everything in the categories of APIs, cloud, databases, data science and developer tools.

Whether you want to periodically check what's new, see everything by subscribing to the RSS feed, show only which ones we've featured in the newsletter or look for a particular product, Beta Console is our first step towards building a larger web presence.

Beta Console - a live list of every developer tool beta & early access release.

The launch was announced in our weekly newsletter and we also created a post on Product Hunt. This didn't do quite as well as our newsletter launch back in Feb, but with 134 votes still generated 700 unique visitors. We're now getting inbound submissions for inclusion from projects directly.

The Product Hunt post was part of a round of marketing with did for the launch which included running Twitter and Reddit ads, and sponsored tweets from the developer jokes Twitter account @iamdevloper. We've not had great success with promoted tweets using Twitter Ads, but both Reddit and the sponsored tweets with @iamdevloper have been working well.

Developer interviews

We're now into a cadence of 2-3 developer interviews each month. We always select the tool based on our editorial criteria before we request an interview, and the interview itself has no input into what we say about the tool. However, once selected we often work with the subject to help promote the interview.

For the interview with KeyDB CEO, John Sully, we arranged a time to submit to Hacker News so they would be around to answer any questions in the comments. This worked well, receiving 140 points, 73 comments, and was on the homepage for around 12 hours.

There are now 19 interviews live on the website and so we revamped the index to make it much more visual. We will be doing more work on this page to add more tags and search/filters.

Developer interviews: before.
Developer interviews: after.

Newsletter tweaks

After some feedback from some of our subscribers, we introduced a "Contents" section into the weekly newsletter template. This seemingly simple change has really increased engagement. We're seeing more people click through from the contents, but it has also boosted clicks in the rest of the newsletter.

New contents section in the weekly newsletter.

Focus for May

We're starting May with another look at our email templates. This will include some small improvements to the weekly newsletter template to make it more consistent with the website and optimizing the use of space.

We don't currently have a "welcome email" that goes out to all new subscribers. As we implemented our customized confirm flow last month, we will also be designing a welcome email to highlight some initial content before you receive your first newsletter.

Our first major research article will also be published in May. This is a long-form piece that we're creating a customized design for, similar to the "long reads" you might be familiar with on other sites. It's another experiment that we hope will be both an interesting read and make people curious about subscribing to the newsletter. It's also another step to building out our website.

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