The making of Product Hubs

Published on
June 1st, 2022
Category
Makers
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We recently launched Product Hubs, a new place to find all of the information on a product’s journey, from launches to reviews, in one place.
“This project touched almost everything we already had. I didn’t fully understand how impactful it was going to be before I started,” shared Engineering Lead, Vlad, who has been a Product Hunt maker and employee for more than seven years.
Same, Vlad, same. So we dove into this build and collected some insights from Product Hunt’s eng and product makers to give you (and our whole team!) a better understanding of how it was completed.

Thoughts on getting started on a huge project…

Product Hubs is not the first time Product Hunt has built or refined features to improve product discovery and community-building. From improving our search to optimizing for SEO to past launches (like Ship), we’re always working on refining the site and experimenting with new ways to surface great products and support makers.
Still, Product Hubs was a different beast:
“Outside of the core product problems we were addressing, one of the biggest challenges on the design side was that we were working with lots of content created by community members. That means taking into account many different ways the designs could react to the content. So the UI had to have a structure, but be flexible enough to adapt to the hundreds of thousands of products that exist on Product Hunt. We had lots of conversations to try to find solutions that could positively impact the experience and the community without too many downsides. There were a lot of parameters to consider before diving into the designs.” - Julie Chabin, Head of Design
“Launch Pages already existed. This made things more complicated than starting from scratch. Considering how to migrate tons of data from the Launch Pages over to the Product Hubs, without breaking the data models or bringing the site down, was a significant challenge.” - Vlad, Engineering Lead
“We knew most of the major changes we had to make, but trying to validate them with users and prioritize was difficult given the scope. For example, finding a way to support products ranging from tiny side projects to large enterprises using the same general UI was difficult and required us to be really thoughtful about all the different scenarios.” - Michael, Product Manager
“There were a lot of do-overs as we worked to improve the quality of the product launches,” explained Vlad. Julie added, “This particular project was quite complex, and we had to restart it several times before reaching these results.”

On moving mountains of data and content:

Even once a solution was decided on, the team faced significant challenges.
“We migrated quite a lot of data from legacy systems and faced challenges with structuring new versus old code. Luckily we had a good feature flagging infra already in place which made the process smoother. We learned and decided on code organization that made sense for easier refactoring and cleanup.” - Raj, Engineering
“One challenge we faced was figuring out how to connect existing data in a semi-automatic way (instead of sorting all that data manually), which is also an ongoing process. In the long-term, the community will participate in sorting things out as content is regularly created and added.” - Andrew, Engineering
“Once we had the new structure in place, migrating the product data to begin sanity checking was a big step in understanding what a page might look like. That was a significant milestone.” - Michael, Product Manager

On learning and advice:

“I learned it is so helpful to celebrate milestones and to bring other folks from the company into the fold to see what we’re doing with fresh eyes. I also learned that we should focus more on admin tools for the team to manage these pages. Although we built some incredibly helpful tooling, I discovered there were some scenarios we didn’t consider and they ended up slowing the final push to clean up data.”- Michael, Product Manager
“My advice and learning is to plan properly and list all impact points, if possible.” - Vlad, Engineering Lead
“Take your time, prioritize carefully and actively look for the edge cases. It surprised me just how many edge cases there are even when it comes to URLs :D.” - Andrew
That being said…
“There was no way to know everything we’d need ahead of time. The project involved learning as we went and iterating along the way – it’s better to keep an open mind as you go than to try to “know” ahead of time,” - Andrew, Engineering

On finishing:

Product Hubs, along with the new Launch Pages, took about nine months to complete. Like many of you in the Product Hunt community, launch day came with a mixed bag of emotions following months of hard work.
“I’m excited and worried at the same time.” - Vlad
“I’m terrified but excited.” - Julie
(Hugs, Julie and Vlad. We had a great launch!)
“I’m excited for folks to try out all the new stuff we’ve built over the past few months.” - Raj
“It’s all in a day’s work, already mentally preparing for a few weeks of post-launch bug-fixing 😉” - Andrew
But are thrilled to say we had an amazing launch day!

What the makers hope you’ll take away from this:

“This solves a huge problem with Product Hunt — we finally have continuity between launches. I think Product Hubs change the relationship between us and makers and allow us to be way more helpful to users. They also open up a ton of opportunities for us. Product Hunt shouldn’t just be where you launch your product, but where you can build a community.” - Michael, Product manager
“I want people to take away that change is possible and inevitable :). You might have a lot of historical legacy, but that’s all the more reason to roll up your sleeves and build something new out of it.” - Andrew, Engineer
Huge thanks to all of the makers on this project across teams! Engineering, Design, Product, Data, Product Operations, and Marketing Teams were all contributors.
If you have a question or feedback about Product Hubs, don’t forget to share it on our Launch Page.
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