I'm Alyssa X, a serial maker. I've built and shipped 10+ products. AMA.

Alyssa X
85 replies
Hey Product Hunt! I'm a designer, full-stack developer, and entrepreneur with a passion for building all sorts of products. Over the past few years I've built a real-time collaborative map tool, one of the most popular flowcharting libraries on GitHub, a screen recorder with over 70K users, a web-based collaborative audio editor, a tool to create platforming games in Figma, a platform to discover people to follow on Twitter, an extension to skip jumpscares on Netflix, and much, much more. Ask me anything about building products, coming up with ideas, staying productive, avoiding burnout... Anything really! 🔮


Charles Scheuer
huge fan of your work! What does your work flow look like for making scrolling based landing pages like Sonuum?
Alyssa X
@scheuercharles Thank you so much! :) For Sonuum I first started with some prototypes for the 3D animation, then in Figma I designed what would go in each section. I then exported each image separately that I'd want to animate, and using jQuery I added breakpoints at different scroll positions to trigger different animations (e.g. scroll down a bit, do a CSS transform, then another one and show the next section, and so on).
At what stage, do you put the product out ? I struggle with the balance between too low fidelity/immature/fails with competition and toiling too hard to keep removing imperfections and adding features.
Alyssa X
@jai_verdancy I tend to have the same issue, honestly. I like to have a good plan beforehand, I make a Notion doc with a bunch of tasks for an MVP, and try my best not to add more tasks during the development of the product. Oftentimes I go through all the tasks during the development and I remove those that I feel aren't going to make a difference, sometimes I get obsessed over adding a small detail that most users aren't even going to notice. It's just a matter of finding a balance :)
@alyssaxuu Could you elaborate a little bit on what your thought process is for approaching the discovery process versus leap of faith balance in releasing your MVP? This is something our team is currently struggling with.
Alyssa X
@eriks_k I think it's hard to say, for me it also helps showing my product to users and hearing their thoughts, I can easily see whether they get the product, if they have issues using it, if they find it lacking, if it's something they would use... It also comes down to whether there's time constraints. I've had several products that were taking longer than expected, and I ended up deciding to cut down on features. You can always add them later on anyway. Ultimately if you show it to users and they think it's fine, the lack of certain features / polish is unlikely to make or break the product. The most important part is to acquire those users, focus on marketing the product, and keep working on it and improving it post launch. I've had far too many products where I spent weeks on certain features that 99% of users didn't even notice or care about, they would have used the product regardless. Focus on marketable features, the acquisition part.
Sushant Borse
@alyssaxuu do you also update the products for security fixes or new feature?
Alyssa X
@sushant_borse Honestly, I try not to, most of my products are one-off. But Screenity and Flowy specifically I do consistently maintain, releasing fixes and new updates from time to time. I just prefer to focus on shipping new products :P
Josh Pullen
Hey Alyssa! It's been a long time since we talked, but I am always amazed by the steady stream of work you're putting out. Two questions: 1. How do you maintain motivation to actually finish and publish projects (as opposed to stopping half way through and moving on to something else)? 2. What is your approach to marketing the things you create? Somehow your work always appears all over my internet timelines. I can't help but discover it.
Alyssa X
@pulljosh Staying motivated is hard, I think I've gotten better at it with practice (I've been doing this for a few years now!). The way I go about it is first of all making sure before starting to work on a project that I will be able to finish it. I make a plan, create a Notion doc with a task list of things to do to finish the MVP, and if it all looks good, then I commit to it. I have to stop myself from getting distracted and working on other stuff, since from experience that ends up killing projects. I think it's mainly a mentality thing, I know if I drop a project it won't be another month or two that I'll be able to build something else, and I always want to make sure I have things to share with my audience, sort of meeting expectations :) So in a way it's my responsibility, at least that's how I see it. Regarding marketing, honestly, up until last year I only shared my products on my Twitter account. I noticed people got notifications for my tweets (both through Twitter and email) if I went off for a couple of months and then I tweeted, so I followed that strategy for a while. It also helps I have a decent following on Twitter :) I've also been launching both on Product Hunt and Hacker News, and I make sure to tell everyone I know about it.
Josh Pullen
@alyssaxuu "... making sure before starting to work on a project that I will be able to finish it." This is precisely the kind of obvious-in-hindsight advice I needed to hear. I've never approached a project with the end (of the MVP) already in sight, but I will next time, and I bet it will help a lot.
Julie Chabin
Big fan of your work and of your endless motivation. How do you come up with new ideas? And what's your secret to actually build them? 👏
Alyssa X
@syswarren Appreciate it! Coming up with ideas is hard, I don't think there's one definitive way to go about it. I personally do it in a variety of ways, some examples: - Think of something that I would use or make my life easier if it existed. That's how I came up with Jumpskip for example, since I absolutely hate jumpscares, and I wanted to find a way to not get scared all the time 👻 - Combine two ideas together, either two products or different concepts. For example, with Mapus I had the idea to combine a tool like Google Maps with the concept of real-time collaboration. I think I use this method a lot, it's pretty useful. - Just look for an existing product, and think how you can make it better. I did this with Screenity, seeing tools like Loom or Screencastify which had users complaining about limits on the free plan, so I built a better free screen recorder, plus with other features such as annotation or push to talk. - Complete randomness. Sometimes I don't know how I come up with ideas, they just come to me I guess. Like a while back I had the idea to build some sort of tool to be able to create platforming games in Figma, designing levels, enemies, etc. Super weird thing. As per actually executing, well, I think I just have a good work ethic and I commit myself to finish everything I start :) I don't want to let people down.
Alyssa you’re a HUGE inspiration. Your output blows my mind. 🙏 Q: How do you know when to quit an exciting new idea vs. when to complete it?
Alyssa X
@philsoutside Thanks Phil! That's a good question. Usually I don't start building a new project unless I am 100% convinced I will be able to complete it. But sometimes I underestimate the effort, or I come across big blockers that I can't overcome. I think I had this issue with a specific project I was working on a few months back - I basically wanted to build a tool to create virtual worlds/MMORPGs (think Club Penguin, Habbo...) using Figma. I built a prototype where you could design rooms, items, avatars... in Figma, press a button, and it would automatically generate the world for you, and you could move around and chat and whatnot. Everything was going well, until I realized I could not complete it for a very simple reason, I'm not an artist. I spent a few weeks trying different artstyles, see if I could figure something out, but ultimately I dropped the project. I also felt it was a bit similar to another project of mine, a tool to create platforming games in Figma, and it might not be worth to launch anyway.
Joshua Dance
How did you learn to program?
Alyssa X
@joshdance I've been programming since I was 7, I started with Visual Basic, Bash, Action Script, basically creating all sorts of simple programs and games mainly. It wasn't until I was ~15 that I decided to get into web development, I didn't follow any courses whatsoever but rather I learnt by building. For example, one of the first projects I built to better understand how to code was a collaborative task manager, with teams, collections, repeating tasks, a Gantt chart, and a lot of different challenging features I had to figure out how to implement. I basically just was constantly looking things up (StackOverflow helped a lot :P) or watching all sorts of Youtube videos. I ended up winning a prize for that project, which might have encouraged me to keep building new stuff :)
Joshua Dance
How do you come up with problems and ideas?
Alexander Lambert
How do we hire you?
@kidhack1 @alyssaxuu of course not. Wrong question. The right question: Which exquisite Parisian art gallery do you belong too?
Maks Surguy
At what point do you choose to close the lid on one of your experiments or products?
Alyssa X
@msurguy Phil asked the same question, here's my answer :) https://www.producthunt.com/disc...
Maks Surguy
Is there something that you want to build but don't have a large enough team to pull it off? How do you find collaborators? Which product are you the most proud of?
Alyssa X
@msurguy Hmm I haven't come up with any idea I wouldn't be able to pull off. I suppose there's projects that are more ambitious than others, and would require a longer time to build, but so far it's all been possible :P Regarding collaborators, I wish I knew. I've only worked on a project together with someone else in the past, Carden with @anne_laure_le_cunff who is a friend of mine. I'd definitely love to do more collaborations, I think it helps build better products since you have more eyes on the product, and you have different perspectives. Hard to say what's the product I'm most proud of... I suppose talking about success specifically I'm most proud of Screenity, which has over 70K users, and has been translated in a lot of different languages. I've heard of teachers using it in schools, who personally thanked me for making it 100% free and open source, as they couldn't afford other paid alternatives. In terms of technical ability, it might be Sonuum, which is a real-time collaborative audio editor. Quite a challenging product to build, but definitely rewarding.
Victor Ribero
Hey @alyssaxuu I didn't know about you! but I just checked your twitter and your website and the products you built look so great! I love their UI btw!! Keep up the great work!
Anything really ? Which one is the best mate while development: Cat or Dog ? 👀
Alyssa X
@jacquelinclem Haha nice one :P I personally wouldn't know since I don't have any pets, I spend too much time working anyway so I wouldn't be able to take care or spend time with them. Either would probably be a great companion while developing though :) 🐈 🐕
@alyssaxuu tried my best to be pertinent. 🥸 What a sad story anyway 😱 A cat is a great mate for developing!
Svenn-Petter Mæhle
Love your work! If you were learning to code today would you go through trial-and-error by building own projects from scratch, take courses (if so, which?) or a mix of the two? + What's your process for determining best practices when there's multiple possible ways to build something?
Alyssa X
@svenn_petter_maehle Depends on the objective really. I personally did it through trial and error as my goal was to be able to build my own products, maybe in a bit of a scrappy way, whatever means necessary. If the goal is to land a job, or to be very knowledgeable in coding, a course would definitely be the way to go, although it would take longer to actually be able to build products. Since I'm an indie hacker, I tend to choose the fastest implementation when developing products, when there's multiple ways to go about it :P Although for some projects (especially those which I plan on scaling and which aren't just a one-off thing) I try to future-proof them by writing clean and efficient code.
How do you approach marketing and sales? Do you have any co-founder that helps with programming, design, marketing, or sales?
Alyssa X
@xtabbas Well, I don't really approach them at all I would say xP I don't do sales as I don't really charge for any of my products, although I plan on starting to so I can manage to work on my projects full-time instead of relying on a job. Marketing for me is just launching on Product Hunt, HackerNews, and tweeting it out, I don't really market post launch. I don't have a co-founder, I do everything solo :P Although in the future I'd love to collaborate with someone who could handle more the marketing / sales part, to build better products.
Mike Staub
I'm sure you have a huge list of project ideas. How do you decide what to focus on?
Alyssa X
@mikestaub You'd be surprised, I don't really have a list. I usually only have one idea in my head at a time, when I launch a product right away I start brainstorming for the next one, so I don't really have it planned beforehand. Maybe rather than specific ideas I have concepts or areas I'd like to explore, such as augmented reality, building native Mac apps, iOS apps, etc. As per how I decide what to focus on, it comes down to a few things. How fast I think I could build it, is it niche or more broad (I personally prefer broader products as they can more easily appeal to my audience), could I effectively make a ~10 second GIF of the product that someone could watch and understand what it does (important for Twitter :P), is there any specific challenge or concept I would learn while building the product, would it help me get more opportunities if it was in my portfolio, etc.
Daniel Modell
Super awesome! I know some people who would love the Netflix hack. Your work is very inspiring.
Primož Erjavec
Do you build them yourself or do you have a team behind you?:)
Primož Erjavec
@alyssaxuu nice:) I see you made 5 good projects on PH, got any tips? We just launched our Carpio 2.0 today and wouldn't mind getting some tips what we can still improve:) https://www.producthunt.com/post...
Michael Silber
You put out so many amazing projects, I'm excited to see you here! Your work really speaks to users because it tackles real-world friction with existing tools. It's clearly based on what you've encountered yourself as a user, which is why they are so compelling. Can you describe how you make it over the hurdle of "I'll slog through this existing UI/UX" to "I'm going to build it better"?
Alyssa X
@product_at_producthunt Thank you so much! And yep, I tend to work on products that I'd personally use, that said I rarely build products only due to existing products having a poor UI/UX, I like to build things that are original and have unique features. I think I mostly do that when I see existing processes which could easily be simplified, one example could be with Animockup, an animated mockup editor I built a while back. I used to create teasers for my products using After Effects, with laptop mockups where I would put screen recordings of the product. This process would take me forever, After Effects takes ages to load, then I would need to position the mockup accordingly with the video, set the composition duration, and then wait a while for it to render. I also needed it to be in GIF format for Twitter, so I would have to use Handbrake to reduce the file size, and then use an MP4 to GIF converter to get the final file. So instead I built a product that would do all of this super easily, select the mockup, upload the video, change the background color, add text or images, and then export directly as a GIF. That easy :P
Emily Hodgins
Hey Alyssa! Always so impressed by your ability to ship so many products - and quality products - in such a short space of time. I love seeing your launches on PH. How do you juggle so many things at once? How do decide if it's time to kill one project to focus on another?
Alyssa X
@ejsnowdon Thank you so much Emily! Honestly it's pretty hard, I think the only way I've been able to manage it is by making sure my products are mostly one-offs, and that I only have to deal with user feedback and questions. There's some that need more maintenance, such as Flowy and Screenity, where there's a lot of users who have questions about the product, or they want to make improvements to it. Unfortunately I can only take care of it every so on, usually a few times a month. As per your other question, I answered it pretty in depth over here :) https://www.producthunt.com/disc...
Artem Smirnov
Hi, your productivity is truly amazing! Do you continue working on older projects while pushing out new ones, or do you put them on autopilot?
Alyssa X
@artem_smirnov1 Thanks! It depends - most of my projects are one-off, but I have a few projects that I keep maintaining, mostly my open source ones. So for example my flowcharting library Flowy, I look into issues and questions people have, make improvements from time to time, etc. Or my Screenity screen recorder. Ideally though I like to work on projects I don't have to maintain, since otherwise I don't have enough time to work on new stuff :P