How I Developed A Website Builder Tool
Hello, my name is Edoardo Valenza and I’m the founder of Codelia. Codelia is a headless CMS to develop websites and e-commerce. It’s built for developers and marketers to make their job easier. Its main goal is to give maximum flexibility to developers while developing and to give a flexible solution to marketers to manage the entire content structure of all their web projects without writing a single line of code.
The project was launched in June 2021. During the first month, Codelia got around 160 leads and 36 users subscribed to the free plan. Now people are subscribing to Codelia day by day.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The idea has come up from my experience as a web developer. In fact, before this project, I was a freelance web designer and web developer. I was working with the usual CMSs to build websites and e-commerce for my customers, and I faced some troubles regarding the flexibility while developing, my productivity while working with these platforms, and the speed of the end website or e-commerce.
Read a lot of books because through books it’s possible to learn a lot of useful things relevant to a specific business.
I had to work with the specific programming language with which the CMS was built, with pre-built functions and with a specific database structure. I could not manage the database changing its structure based on my needs managing all the content in the way I wanted, and when I had to develop extra features without using third-party plugins, it was really difficult due to the lack of flexibility.
In addition to this, if my co-workers (the marketers) had to change the content structure of the project adding new types of content, for example, I (the developer) needed to work on the code implementing the specifics needed.
So I thought of a solution that could bring me maximum flexibility while developing and that could bring to my co-workers the possibility to work without the need to write extra code.
I decided to develop a CMS that had these characteristics, so I created Codelia.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
During the first time, the software had a black and white interface, because at first, I was planning to create it only for my work, so the only people that had to use it were me and my co-workers, and it also had a different name from the actual one.
It had to be simple, intuitive, and fast to use. I wasn’t caring about the UI but more about the UX, because I and my coworkers were the final users.
This is why there were no colors on the first draft of the design. I was taking inspiration from other tools that I was already using to understand how to design the layout, while all the features were coming to my mind thanks to all the troubles that I was getting with other popular CMSs. I knew the problem and so I knew the solution.
Due to the big evolution of the product, my coworkers didn’t have the chance to view this first draft as a completed product, but they saw directly the current version, giving me positive feedback.
I was building this as a side project, I had other jobs to work on as a freelance developer. I started to develop this project when here in my country (Italy) there was a total lockdown due to Covid. Then without the time to go out in my spare time, during this period, I was working on this project, keeping a good balance with the other projects.
Only after this first period, I decided to put it commercially and to start a business with it, offering this solution even to other developers - like me - and marketers. So I started to design a real interface, a logo and to work developing all of the features.
I had to register the logo and the software before the launch, and these procedures took me some time and some money. The big challenge was the total amount of money to pay to register the logo. There was other money kept for the launch ads campaign, but finally, I found this myself without getting financed.
Describe the process of launching the business.
My launch happened after a lot of tests on the final version of the software. It started with social media ads and email marketing. We started with Facebook Ads capturing some leads before with a landing page and then with a lead ad form. The process of getting leads was to offer a lead magnet (ebook) in exchange for their email address.
Firstly it was hard to collect leads, and we changed different ads testing different copies, images, and videos. Then after the first month/month and a half, we found the right way to collect leads, and we started getting 1 or 2 leads per day, but not every day. After multiple tests, we started getting around 4 or 5 leads every day.
We are using Klaviyo is an email marketing platform, and all the leads are managed through it. We started testing some email flows and after some time we got the good ones. There are different flows: some for the leads and some for the users, and it changes based on which plan the users are subscribed to.
After some time I decided to add the software and the company on Product Hunt and some startup listing websites.
These procedures brought users and the product started to get known. Thanks to the first users obtained through these platforms, we were able to improve the product with a better UX and new features.
The biggest lessons that I’ve learned from this product launch, are that things take time and they happen when you least expect it.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
After the launch, the publication of the project on startup listing websites and software listing websites such as Product Hunt, BetaPage, Alternative.me, Crozdesk, Capterra, and many others work well to attract more users and get more exposure.
In addition to this, getting the subscribed users engaged was a very important point. So I created a customer training program to send to all users that are using Codelia. In this way, they can learn with some emails which are the features and how to leverage them. This solution creates interest in users.
Twitter is another platform that is powerful to increase brand awareness organically, in addition to Google and YouTube. On Google and YouTube, there is very high competition in topics about development and marketing, so it’s hard to get results on these platforms, it takes a lot of time.
Instead, with Twitter, it’s possible to connect directly with a lot of people that could be interested in these topics, so it’s easier to get awareness. Even in this case, it requires time.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today Codelia is getting more exposure and is acquiring more users, so I expect growth during the next few years.
Today I’m optimizing the website, the software, and the email marketing with the marketing team, and I’m always thinking about new features to develop to increase Codelia.
Every time that something comes up in my mind I take note immediately, and with Trello, I’ve created a deadline were to add all of these ideas, evaluate them deeper, and schedule the development.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Through starting the business I learned to be patient and I understand that growing a project requires time.
I also learned to be open to every opportunity. Often I receive emails with commercial proposals such as listings or additional marketing services. I always read all of those emails and I consider every opportunity that can benefit my business.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I’m using Klaviyo for email marketing, Google Analytics, and Hotjar for analytics, Fiverr to hire some freelancers and Google Workspace for the emails.
Another very useful tool for planning all the activities to do on the software is Trello.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The best books that I read are in the field of marketing. One of the most interesting and useful even for my company is Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini, where the author explains which are the mechanisms that are used to influence people in everyday life.
The next ones are The purple cow by Seth Godin and Dotcom secrets by Russell Brunson.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
One of my best advice is to read a lot of books because through books it’s possible to learn a lot of useful things relevant to a specific business.
In addition to this, it’s important to study the competition. By studying the competition on a deep level, it’s possible to get some clear ideas to differentiate the product from the competition.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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