Although I've been blogging most recently on Medium I decided it was time to move to a new home. Welcome to Practical MVP.
I've written a lot on the subject of being maker, launching side projects and generally about development.
With Practical MVP I want to focus on the process of taking an idea (sometimes a big, grand idea) and being building something that you can launch in a few weeks.
I've seen people spend months before getting something into the hands of customers only to realize the market just isn't there.
Yes you can talk to your customers about what you're building, but I've found until they get their hands on what you're building most of what they tell you is wrong.
The Big Idea
I'd love for Practical MVP to be the source anyone comes too, when they're looking for information, resources, help and support when they are starting a new project.
But that is a pretty ambitious goal, and I could spend months if not years building. I'd rather not wait to launch something that long.
Let's get things rolling with a blog. That should be pretty easy to get built and launched.
From there I can talk with my visitors see what they actually need, what they are struggling with when they have an idea, and want to build something new.
From there I can roadmap what I'll add to Practical MVP to get to the big idea or iterate on the idea to something that people actually want.
So I obviously decided to move ahead with this big idea. Taking the small step of building a blog, but how did I do it, in just a few days?!?!
There are lots of options for building a blog. From going with a static site generator to Wordpress or Ghost. Which one to pick?
I knew the bigger vision for Practical MVP called for being much more than a blog, but I also don't know what that mean right now. I didn't want to worry about what that might be if it was going to slow down launching the blog.
I decided not to build the site with a CMS meant for build a blog, instead I decided to use something I know well, and know will grow with. Since I have experience using Twill already I knew it wouldn't slow me down launching the blog, but would give the flexibility to add whatever features I need for Practical MVP the future.
Twill is not like other CMSes, rather Twill is a CMS toolkit. It allows you to build a CMS for whatever you need very quickly, and fully customize it for your needs. It's even open source so if are missing a feature you can add it yourself!
I was able to very quickly build a CMS to manage the blog posts and the related items, such as categories and stages (more on this another time), the usual blog stuff.
I just wanted to launch a simple blog and not think much about how it looks right now, just as long as it looks nice.
As a big fan of Bootstrap I thought I could just build a very quick theme with the base features but I decided I wanted to have a little more personality than that.
There are a lot, yes a lot of options for Bootstrap themes, some very good options that are free and paid. I didn't want to spend hours (days) reviewing my options and then integrating them into the site, so I decided to get an official bootstrap theme. I've used a couple on other projects and have been very happy with the quality of both the decide and the code, and simple it was to integrate them into my build.
I decided to use the Leap theme by Medium Rare (partly for the irony of the name 😀) but also because it gave me a solid design for the blog and plenty of other components that will come in very useful later.
One of the nice things about using Twill is that you end up just having a regular Laravel site to host. Since I already have a hosting for other projects setup on Digital Ocean droplets, managed thru Forge it was pretty easy to add PracticalMVP to the servers.
Adding an SSL cert via Lets Encrypt and the site is ready for the onslaught of visitors.
I still have a bunch of things to do (mostly related to SEO) to get the site ready for the official launch, but getting here was pretty quick!
Of course as with other MVPs, the launch is just one very early step in the project, not the end.
For the foreseeable future I'n going to focus on adding content to the blog, before deciding what the larger roadmap looks like. Is content all visitors are looking for, or are there other services or products I can and should add.
Thanks for reading!