5 years after my app made hackernews front page

Dan Willoughby・ Jan 10, 20204 min read

All the marketing I ever did was posting on hacker news. I made it on the front page (maybe to the number 10 or 11 spot) for maybe one hour. Below I'll show details about my app's launch, what happened after launch, and some of the user feedback I've had over the years.


The launch was better than I expected. Per my brother's suggestion, I posted it on hackernews prefixed with "ShowHN". My title was originally, "My first android app", but a mod quickly changed the title to "Goalie - a habit tracker". Less than hour after posting, it made it to the front page. I had roughly 1500 installs the first day and around 1900 the first month (June 2015).

I had some other coverage of my app that I did not expect. I read a review on my app that they heard about it from the youtube channel All about Android. I searched and found that All about Android chose Goalie as an app to vote on for the week the day it was released. They did a highlight video which was really cool. They also poked fun at my install count being so low, but it was because the app had only been released a few hours when they recorded their show. Someone also added Goalie to product hunt which I hadn't even heard of at the time. I don't think I got much traffic from them though. They asked for my twitter account, which I didn't have, so I had to make one real fast.

In order to launch, the google play store required a landing page. I had made a landing page for Goalie on iOS (a year or two before Goalie for android), but got sick of Apple's developer fee eating all my profits. So I quickly resurrected the landing page in order to publish my app. At time of launch I just used free wix landing page. I probably could have done more to get more exposure, but I was pretty happy with my launch.

After Launch

From 2015 to 2016 I had about 200 ish per month. At the new year, when habit trackers are a hot search item, I got around 1100 January, 2016. I got another spike of 400 in 2017. Other than that it's down to about 30 per month.

Lifetime graph of Goalie installs
Lifetime graph of Goalie installs

I've had to fix a few bugs, but otherwise have done little maintenance. The worse bug was with time zones (curse you time zones!!). When a user recorded a completed goal in a different zone, the app couldn't deal with it and it would render the graph as if all data was lost. In reality, the data was still there, it had just assumed there would only be one record per day and when there was two in one day, everything basically broke. I have since fixed the issue by making all the dates be recorded in UTC. Another bug I had was when a new version of android came out, it had deprecated some notification api I was using, and that was crashing the app.

User Feedback

I've had a lot of great user feedback, most of it was on hacker news the first day, but I occasionally get a user that emails me and say they love Goalie.

Here is one I received in 2018

I have to thank you again...! This is so good -- the more I use it, the more I appreciate it.

I have run this app with a dozen others (habit apps) side-by-side for 8 weeks and my final choice is Goalie...! It's too good...

A more recent one in 2019, which is similar to most user emails. They have a few suggestions on what features they would like added.

First of all, congratulations for your app, its really good!

I was thinking of a simple functionally that would be very useful: Inside each task to have a computed a balance between the goal line and the old marks. For example, this would enable me to plan my future work thinking more on those tasks with a negative balance.

I think the most interesting email was one titled "I'm developing an app like yours... I was going to call it "Goalie", but...". He goes on to pitch to me that he wants to swap my app out with his but his will have some extra part. He wanted to split 50/50 and said he had some investor that would give $10,000 for like 10% ownership.

Basically, my app is going to incorporate all of the features of your app, and then it has an extra special part of it, that incorporate some new age thinking about reaching goals, and attending ones dreams, hopes, and ambitions.

I responded to him saying I was flattered he liked my app so much and said he could just name his app the same thing. He responded saying it wasn't just the name and I'd need to sign an NDA for him to tell me more of the details. At that point, I was no longer interested. I wasn't going to sign an NDA, because I had read ideas are cheap, execution is hard. I also had read a lot that signing an NDA is usually a bad idea. I think he had good intentions, but perhaps he was trying to scam me, who knows.

Keep at it

I had a great first day and initial launch of Goalie. I was thrilled that others enjoyed using my app. My career took off about the same time Goalie was launched, so it took a back seat. I hope by posting this is that others can see, even if you have a big initial first launch, you still need to keep doing marketing to keep your app relevant.

Goalie is still available in the play store. I even remade my landing page you can check it out here. Who knows, maybe I'll start working on it again.


Dan Willoughby

Hi I'm Dan and I like to code and build things. Sometimes when I program, it's useful, othertimes it's not as useful. You can watch me code live on Twitch!