How Framer used Product Hunt to strengthen its product-market fit

Published on
August 14th, 2022
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One of the keys to a successful product is finding your market and evolving as needed.
When Framer first launched in 2014, they started with a prototyping tool for animation and interaction and were met with praise and excitement.
They didn’t stop there, though. The team saw a potential in what their users were doing with Framer, and what they wanted to be doing. So they refined their product again and again to strengthen their product-market fit, and they used Product Hunt launches to reach more of their target audience along the way.

54 launches, 25k+ upvotes over, several product iterations

Framer first launched in 2014 as a JavaScript library, relying heavily on code to produce prototypes. The startup quickly grew an enthusiastic user base, making a name for itself as a prototyping tool in designers’ stacks alongside software like Invision. Still, the founders realized that sticking to the prototyping market wasn’t conducive to growth—they needed to offer more.
“We noticed that the space for prototyping wasn't really big enough,” Jurre Houtkamp, one of Framer’s long-time product designers, told us. “There was an influx of prototyping tools, but all of them would get stuck at a similar point, a lot of people would design their apps but would see prototyping as an extra step. A lot of designers wouldn't take that step to convey their ideas. So we had to go further.”
With numerous calculated iterations, Framer over time became an all-in-one prototyping and website design tool. With the Framer X launch in 2018, the team introduced the ability to use and build your react components in Framer. Then, in 2022, Framer went the distance. It launched the new Framer (FKA Framer Sites), a package of features that offered anyone the opportunity to create and launch full-blown, no-code websites (with rich features like breakpoints and a CMS) from a design canvas in Framer.
Along the way, some observers questioned the company’s product and market strategy.
“Some people would ask us 'What stream are you going in now?' I think that happens with any startup that is trying to find their market fit," Jurre told us.
Framer no longer targeted just design, and as their products grew, so did their market. Product Hunt helped them with that.
“A big motivator for us to launch on Product Hunt is traffic, because a lot of traffic with the initial launch comes from Product Hunt," Jurre emphasized. “We know that for us, launching on Product Hunt is very successful.
We want new sign-ups; Existing users also look on Product Hunt, but we want to especially reach those people that don’t know about Framer yet.”

How Framer uses Product Hunt to guide its launches

There are a lot of different reasons to launch on Product Hunt. For some, the Product Hunt community presents a maker with their first opportunity to collect feedback from early users. For others, like Framer, having a product that’s already been tested with a target audience before launch day helps to amplify reach to like audiences.
For a major launch like the new Framer, the makers reach out to their own community to try out the product beta and give feedback. “What we often do is we wait until we're fully confident that a core group of people are happy with the product. And then if we think it's the right time—based on certain metrics—we launch the product with a bigger announcement,” said Jurre.
Beta launches help the team decide on the ‘essential’ set of product features, rather than trying to implement every single feature possible, or push back the full launch date too far while trying to perfect the product.
“[On launch day], we're still doing the same thing we were during the beta period. It's just now that everybody can use the product and give us feedback instead of a smaller group. We want to make sure that we launch it to everybody in a state that we're happy with and we know others will too.”
That’s not to say they don’t listen to launch feedback too: “I think we've already shipped about five or six new features based on feedback that we've got from our [last] launch,” says Jurre.
A ‘big’ Framer launch can garner as many as 90+ comments. The makers “always hang out in the comments and reply to most people that leave feedback or are excited about the product.”
It’s a way to facilitate dialogue, and attract one more user to Framer’s website.
Under each product launch, a maker at Framer links their Discord community, encouraging users to join and delve deeper into the product. Since their most recent launch, their Discord community has grown by 5k, closing in on a total of 14k.
“I’m sure a large chunk of it is from Product Hunt,” said Jurre. “It’s the perfect platform for us to reach people who did not know about Framer previously.”
Framer is now helping others with their launches with its startup program. It helps “small teams get ready for launch day” and equips them with various tools like a dedicated Slack channel, SEO essentials, technical support, and more. Thus far, the program has helped workplace tool Acapela launch on Product Hunt.

How a solid launch strategy ensures continued success

With each launch, the makers make sure to put thought into their product description of the product, first comment, and a compelling video — a piece that’s optional on Product Hunt, but has become a staple of most of Framer’s launches.
“We’re pretty well known for doing over-the-top launches,” said Jurre. “We’re always proud of what we launch, and when we launch, we’re certain that it’s going to be the right thing.”
There’s always a pressure to create something new and outdo the last video, but Jurre and his team figured out a ‘formula’ that ensures each video gets people talking. Knowing your audience and how to spice things up makes every launch exciting—so much so that some people mainly come to see the video sometimes drives the conversation:
“We've seen this happen, where people were more excited about the video that we made than the actual product that we launched. But that's also a good thing. Because if they're watching the video, they're seeing the product, they're talking about it, they're sharing it, which is essentially a win for us. Even people that don't really like Framer or are not using Framer are impressed by the video. And then they share it, and it reaches other people who might be interested in the product.”
The comments on their launches often validate their efforts:
“Love the video and the product! Good luck on your launch 🚀”
“I came to product hunt to look for a prototyping tool and it’s crazy that this was released today. It looks amazing and can't wait to give it a try later on today.”

How Framer measures success on Product Hunt

One of Framer’s key goals for launches is new users, so post-launch success is measured by how many newcomers came from Product Hunt.
“We [now] have a very large group of people that know about Framer. What we're mostly after now is people that haven't heard about Framer yet, because this space for website-building is so much bigger than what Framer was before. And I think Product Hunt is a great place to find those people,” said Jurre. “We always track how many people came from Product Hunt. And if it was a successful medium for us—obviously it is because we keep doing it.”
And while many of Framer’s Product Hunt launches have been a success, Jurre also wants other makers to know that it’s okay if you don’t always exceed expectations:
“You want every launch to be successful, as successful as the previous one. But sometimes that just doesn't happen for unknown reasons — it could be timing, it could be just the audience that is interested in that product launch or feature launch.”
One thing that never fails? Using a launch as a celebration of your team’s hard work. “You work on something for so long, and put a lot of hours into it. But then seeing your product reach number one with like, 4 or 5,000 upvotes—that's a great validation that your work wasn't for nothing.”
Framer takes a team approach to launching — who plans the launch is never contingent on who led the product development, but rather who has time to prepare for the launch and get it scheduled. “We credit everybody [on the team] as a maker on Product Hunt. It’s never ‘I’ made this, it’s ‘we’ made this,” said Jurre.
Read more maker success stories here.
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