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How to Ship & Validate New Projects Fast

This article was sponsored by MOJO Marketplace. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

Launching a new project can be costly, both in terms of time and money. After all, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. But is that always the best approach? There can be real value in shipping a new project fast.

The risk of a new endeavour isn’t getting the technical stuff right. It’s your customers—or lack of them. They’re looking for effective solutions to their problems; does your product provide one? Will they pay for it? How much? Do they have any feedback?

You need to validate your idea before you start building it—that way you can make sure you’re providing something your customers truly need. So launch quickly. Rather than investing a lot of time and money up front, get something out the door, gauge interest early, and validate your idea.

How Non-Technical Founders Can Ship Projects

Your customers don’t need to see a finished product. They need to know you’re passionate, and they need to have confidence you’ll finish what you start. So start with a prototype—a minimum viable product (MVP)—that will give them a taste of what you have in mind.

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Creating an MVP doesn’t necessarily require technical skill or knowledge. In fact, even if you’re a coder it’s best to keep things lean and mean at the beginning. Instead, rapidly launch your product using existing web technologies. You can jerry-rig a lot of functionality by linking web services together with Zapier or IFTTT. We’re talking minutes, hours or days, not weeks and months.

Ramli John tells the stories of some non-technical founders who successfully launched startups without writing a line of code. The first is Ryan Hoover, the co-founder of Product Hunt, a site that curates interesting new products. By using an existing link-sharing tool (the now defunct Linky Dink), he was able to launch a prototype in just 20 minutes from a coffee shop, then organized 30 quality contributors to share links. Within two weeks the fledgeling project had over 170 subscribers.

Then there’s Rolling Tree, an online community for skateboard enthusiasts. The three founders were unable to find a suitable developer in three months, so they turned to Facebook instead. They set up a group in less than a day, and attracted 500 keen members in less than five. The community met together weekly on Google Hangouts, where they started to design skateboards together.

A lot of new entrepreneurs think that to launch a startup, you need to build a product, and to do that you need someone that can write code. At that early stage, however, the biggest risk for most startups is not the technology, but the market. Will someone out there actually pay for it? (Ramli John)

Developing an MVP is a great approach to launching products, and it’s not just for non-technical entrepreneurs. Even developers can use these techniques to test ideas for market response before building out apps.

The founders I mentioned created their prototypes using popular web services. WordPress is another approach—it’s versatile, easy and inexpensive. The right WordPress theme will get you started in minutes, then you can add functionality with plugins and embedded web apps. And because WordPress is so popular there’s plenty of help available for customization.

One place to get that support is MOJO Marketplace. They sell WordPress themes and plugins, offer help and personalized coaching with WP Live support, and provide a wide range of professional services for those jobs you don’t have the time or inclination to do yourself.

Let’s have a look at how MOJO can help you launch your project.

Get Started with a Landing Page & Email List

Get started right away by putting together a landing page. That way you can let the world know about your upcoming project from Day 0, all the while collecting email addresses for your mailing list.

Failing to build your list from the start is one of the most common missed opportunities. It will enable you to gauge interest now, and communicate your passion down the track.

“Your passion and belief to build your idea is central to everything that you are doing. Learn from the data and move on.” (Nitesh Agrawal)

For most online businesses, a good email list is one of the most important assets for converting customers.

Get started quickly with a landing page theme with an embedded contact widget. Here are some great choices from MOJO Marketplace.

Advanced Coming Soon – Landing Page PHP Script

This PHP script lets you add a beautiful “Under Construction” page to your website in just five minutes. Its Twitter, subscribe and contact forms will help you grow your follower base.

Smooth – Animated Coming Soon Template

MOJO Marketplace - Smooth

Smooth lets you build anticipation and trust even before you launch your website. The plugin’s Mailchimp integration and contact form will help you build your contact base.

Level Up – Responsive Coming Soon Template

MOJO Marketplace - Level Up

Level Up is a responsive coming soon template with a countdown timer. A simple form allows you to collect subscribers and gauge interest.

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