A rapidly built marketing site to help the thoughtbot team learn about a potential new revenue stream

At thoughtbot, we were looking for additional forms for revenue that would be more consistent than the consulting work that had established the business. We believed that we could capitalize on some of the early start-ups that approached thoughtbot but didn't yet have enough funding to get a team to build. We wanted to coach them in early steps to validate their audience need and business before making software. To start, we want to see if there was an appetite for a different kind of product consulting. We took these assumptions into a short project to validate our assumptions.

Test core assumptions and gauge interst

Since we were unsure of the audience for this offering, we wanted to test what type of interest we could find. We tried to figure out a quick and easy way to test some of our core assumptions with this idea. We decided that a shadow site would be a quick and easy way to get an idea of how interested people would be in the course at the price point we would need to make it worthwhile.

Design & Develop a Shadow Site

An initial landing page and course schedule was designed and developed in a little under two weeks. I worked closely with Jaclyn Perone, thoughtbot Boston's Design Director at the time. Jaclyn helped shape the initial idea of the program that we were going to have on the site and provided me with critical feedback on the site's design.

The speed of delivery was important to us because we didn't want to spend a bunch of time and money on something that we weren't sure about. Once launched, we used personal networks to push some traffic to the page to see if that little traffic would result in the interest we thought we would get.

Interviews & Conclusion

Based on the small amount of traffic that we directed to the site, we didn't see the results that we had expected. That led us to conduct a couple of Jobs-to-be-Done Switch interviews to learn more about people's situations and how they were currently solving for the job we thought we were solving. These interviews were insightful and opened up more experiment ideas. While there were still some experiments that we could have tried, other projects took precedent. We decided to shelve the Institute for the time being.

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