Tools for the Trade: The Hello Bar gets noticed — simplyMay 3, 2011 by John T. Meyer
Building products that people want to use and adopt is never easy. But building a product people want to use and still keeping it simple is even more difficult. When I stumbled upon The Hello Bar and immediately knew exactly what it did and how useful it could be, I had to learn more about it.
The Hello Bar is basically the greeting card for your website or blog. In just a 32-pixel, 85-character space The Hello Bar allows you to welcome your website traffic with a call to action or greeting. With The Hello Bar’s flawless user experience design and basic features, users can add it to their websites in a matter of minutes (in fact, I timed myself and put it on my Tumblr blog in two minutes and 30 seconds). Besides the ability to customize a greeting and design, The Hello Bar enables you to track site visits, track clicks on your call to action and change the message via Twitter integration. And additional features are on the way.
The Hello Bar is built by Digital Telepathy, a user experience design agency based in San Francisco and San Diego. Digital Telepathy focuses on UX design for client work but has started to get into the products space with its first product SlideDeck, and now The Hello Bar. I got a chance to talk to Digital Telepathy CEO Chuck Longanecker on the phone and ask him a few questions.
Silicon Prairie News (SPN): Where did the idea for The Hello Bar come from?
Chuck Longanecker: Hello Bar came from the idea that when someone comes to your website, you want to accomplish two things: 1. Statement or message; 2. Call to action.
SPN: Describe the process of building The Hello Bar.
Longanecker: We built the prototype in two weeks. The biggest challenge was proving to my agency and partners that taking away the billable hours was worth it. We wanted to build the “duh product” that people would look at and say “Why didn’t I think of that?” We also knew that we needed a strong brand. We had a product that anyone could copy or replicate, but we wanted to build an experience and a brand that people could enjoy. To be honest, I actually get excited to change my Hello Bar.
SPN: There are a lot of big names using The Hello Bar on their personal websites. How did you make these connections and market your product?
Longanecker: We really got lucky. We knew Tim Ferris through work at Digital Telepathy, and I’m good friends with Andrew Warner of Mixergy. Those two guys started using The Hello Bar, and then it just started going viral. Gary Vaynerchuk and Ramit Sethi picked it up and used it on their site. And then I just sent an email to Seth Godin, and he used it too. We kept getting feedback from users that The Hello Bar was unobtrusive, it gets your attention, doesn’t piss you off, and you actually click it. So we knew we accomplished our goal of making something simple and useful.
The top of The Hello Bar website illustrates one of The Hello Bar’s functions: welcoming site visitors with a call to action. Screenshot from hellobar.com.
SPN: I think everyone strives to make a simple and useful product but often gets overloaded in features and expectations. What advice would you give to the SPN community on how to build a simple product?
Longanecker: I think the mistake is people often start with an idea and then try to make their idea fit with an audience. You need to start with the problems users have and ask what do they need the most and what will benefit them the most. You then match your idea with someone that you’re helping. Always, always understand who you’re creating your product for. Finally, do it really well then prove it.
Note: The Hello Bar is currently in beta, and you have to request an invite. But Chuck generously gave Silicon Prairie News 20 beta invites to The Hello Bar. Sign up at www.hellobar.com and use the promo code spn for access.