I wanted to do a post-mortem on aboutmydive.com.
This was my first attempt at building something that I hoped would become more than a project. It didn’t, and I think it failed for a few simple reasons that I wanted to share here.
1) No audience interest
I thought that because I wanted to log my dives that everyone would want to do the same.
There isn’t a strong online community that I could find around diving. I think it’s because diving is still a very analog activity. It happens in real life and is either dominated by vacations (where I’m not going to bother finding Internet to upload my log) or local diving crews who simply weren’t interested in logging their weekend dives.
As a result, I just couldn’t convince anyone who I wasn’t friends with that this was a cool idea.
2) It needed to be mobile
It turns out that folks dive in remote locations. They don’t want to write it all down in a book, and then transfer the information to a website. It needs to work on a mobile device, be stored locally, and then uploaded once cell coverage is reached. I didn’t build that, and therefore I couldn’t get folks to use it
3) I didn’t have a road map
Without a road map, there’s very little chance you’ll succeed. The issue is that you’re constantly jumping from one feature to another. You have to force yourself to sit down and say that A is more important than B, and therefore I’m going to do A. If you don’t, then you’re constantly flipping between the two with no real hope of getting anything done.
Once you understand that A is important, you can start to ask questions about how to best deliver A. That train of thought really allows you to get to the best possible product. The flip side, which is constantly context switching, simply leads to lots of half-finished ideas.
I’m really glad that I tried to build AboutMyDive.com. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I learned a lot. I definitely think that the new project I’m working on is going to be more successful based on these lessons learned. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be the winner, but, at the least, I won’t make these mistakes again.