One of the thing that surprises people when I talk to them about building Punchli.st is the fact that I had never written software before. I’ve always had a technical slant to my work, but I always leaned toward design and strategy. So one of my fundamental goals with Punchli.st was to learn the skill of software development. I felt that even if I’m wrong about this core product idea at least I’ll have the skill.
So one of my fundamental goals with Punchli.st was to learn the skill of software development.
The other thing was I wanted to pursue an idea I could be passionate about. I knew there would be moments where I would be banging my head on my desk because I could not figure something out but if I was passionate about the idea I would fight through it.
Pick a framework
In terms of what I needed to learn, from a technical side, it really was everything. On top of core programming concepts, I picked a couple of frameworks I had never used before: Laravel for the backend and Vue for the frontend app. I don’t know that I could have made a better decision than using these two frameworks. Not because they are “the best” or because it does everything for you. The reason I think this was some of my best decision making was because the community and education side of these frameworks are stellar. My #1 reason was https://laracasts.com/, I learn best by watching other people work through a problem and this is all video tutorials. The other key is they are constantly updating their videos. I didn’t realize how important this was until later. All software platforms will change with time, education rarely gets updated but Laracasts update the core videos annually. This means that when you watch something and try to do it on your machine it will actually look the same. This is a massive issue often when watching a software video on youtube because the video was done a few years ago and things usually only stay relevant for a few months. A little bonus feature is both communities have pretty healthy official Slack channels that I have used when I’m in a really specific pinch.
Break up the Project
So now that I had my frameworks the next key for me was chunking up the work. I had a mental idea of the critical path I wanted a user to go through: create an account, create a project, load previous comments, add a new comment, etc. I would break the work up where each night I could go to bed happy that I accomplished something. Previously if I ever wanted to build something I would just try to push a bunch of it forward each time never really chipping away just feeling like I still had so much to do. Simply by saying, tonight all I’m going to work on is making sure I can create a new project. Build the form and does it insert into the database. Once I got that done I stopped.
If I was thinking of leaping into be a solo founder and I did not have a technical background I would really think through how excited you are about your concept. There were plenty of nights where that small chunk of work that I thought would take an hour wasn’t done after four and it just leaves you with this anchor in your soul that is hard to power through. I can’t tell you how many times I said to myself “I’m never going to figure this out.”
Lastly, I would suggest trying to find some truly supportive friends. One you can talk through the issues with but aren’t going to just do it for you. Most of the time people are just going to nod their heads and say “that sounds cool” but try to find the people that still ask about it when you don’t bring it up. @imjameshall was that for me.
New Feature: Video FeedbackNovember 1, 2020
Feedback usually takes the shape of two forms: very actionable task-based feedback and then less precise directional feedback. Both are valuable and typically relative to the stage of your project. Later in a project, you will get feedback like changing an image or fixing a typo, and that feedback is often better written because you [...]
New Integration and ExportOctober 1, 2020
We know seamlessly getting into the existing workflows of project managers is key to why it can make a huge difference in their projects. The key to that has been our integrations, and I’m happy to say that we have recently added Wrike to our list, which already includes Asana, Trello, Jira, Clubhouse, YouTrack, and [...]
Integrations: Github, Clubhouse, and YouTrackAugust 16, 2020
Our goal with Punchli.st has always been to make the life a project manager easier. Gathering feedback to wrap up a project is often the most frustrating part of a project because you are often asking a client to do something they are not used to doing. Our first step was to make giving feedback [...]
Feature: ScreenshotsAugust 1, 2020
Punchli.st is most often used while a website is continuously changing. The beauty of our tool is that the feedback is never against a version of the website that is outdated. Previously, we often saw with screenshots or pdfs; feedback would come back after changes were made or would be conflicting with someone else’s feedback. [...]
Small Update: Sort OrderJuly 17, 2020
Depending on what you are trying to accomplish the way items are sorted on a page could confuse things. Recently we added two new ways to sort items in a Punchli.st project. First, you can now sort by position on the page. So regardless of when the feedback was given the list will show all [...]
Integrations: Asana, Trello, and JiraJuly 15, 2020
Gathering feedback on a web project quickly is fantastic, but if getting that feedback means a tedious amount of work to organize it in your project management tool for your team, it can feel counterproductive. Recently we launched direct integrations with Asana, Trello and Jira. Three of the more common task management systems. Now when [...]
File/Photo UploadMay 18, 2020
One of the main goals with Punchlist is to help project managers stay on top of everything they need to get a project done. Keeping track of documents and files is really hard. Then knowing what photo is for a certain section or copy for a particular page adds to the complexity. Happy to say [...]
Feature Update: Rich Text EditorMay 1, 2020
Being able to give clear concise feedback has a lot to do with how you can format your comment. We’ve updated our comment box to now support Bold, Italics, Bullets, & Inline Links. We considered adding more formatting but it is a fine line between being helpful and distracting. We’ll see how this goes and [...]
New Feature: @MentionsMarch 30, 2020
Earlier this year we rolled out team accounts so organizations could share their subscription with the rest of their team. This allowed organizations to have project managers and team members. Where PMs could create and manage projects. Now I’m happy to roll out the next step in this feature line. You can now mention anyone [...]
TeamsFebruary 18, 2020
Punchli.st’s focus is getting projects completed through collaboration. Having your team or client be able to be referenced and use the tool independently is key to that. I’m happy to say we recently launched the ability to invite Team Members and Project Managers to an organization’s account. Project Managers have the ability to create new projects and [...]
New Feature Update: Direct Linking, List-Only View, & ScreenshotsSeptember 27, 2019
🎯 Direct Linking to Items You can now link directly to an issue regardless of what page the item is on. We load the correct page of your project site as well as scroll down to the annotation. These links are public; you can reference the specific item with your team or client. 🗃️ List-Only [...]
New Feature Update: Pages and BreakpointsJuly 24, 2019
Screenshots and Pages One of the more significant UX issues we have seen over the last few months is that it was hard to know which pages had feedback already. It took a little hunting, and we didn’t do a good job of showing how to get to the page listing. Now we have brought [...]
Read-Only ModeJuly 10, 2019
Excited about this little feature since it came directly through customer feedback. Design Extensions in St. Augustine has been using Punchli.st to help get their client and team feedback. One thing they kept running into was feedback coming into late, so they wanted to be able to lock in all the feedback. We built a [...]
Marking Items Done & TopicsJune 16, 2019
When you are trying to get a project done getting your stakeholders to focus is key. The design has been approved and the last thing you want is to introduce the ability to change something that is baked. One of the key aspects of any review is to focus in on what you actually want [...]
First pass at video onboardingMay 24, 2019
tl;dr; I have a feeling you are going to see more video onboarding within apps soon; people don’t like to read. It is pretty easy to get up and running with a video onboarding, but if you don’t want to read and just want to watch you can skip to the end of the post [...]
Where am I heading?April 2, 2019
For the last 20 years, I have been talking to clients about getting their projects launched. Starting in 1999, my neighbor asked me if I knew how to build a website. I didn’t, but within a few days, I had something running on Homestead (I think that is what it was called, o.g. Webflow 🙂 [...]
My frictionless getting startedMarch 29, 2019
Until recently I had a pretty standard flow within my app. You sign up, create a project, share it out, and wait for feedback. I’ve talked previously about sticking to the critical path. I took a step back and consider how could I get a user to start collaborating on a project as quickly as [...]
Why Solo?January 26, 2019
Previously I wrote about what I knew I needed to learn in order to build a product. Occasionally I’ll get asked if I had so much to learn why was important to me to build Punchli.st alone. I’m sure there is some deeper psychological reasoning but the easiest way to explain it is I don’t [...]