ProductHunt is one of those websites that can turn into a rabbit hole. There are so many great ideas floating around there that without even realizing it you’ve let an hour of your time slip away. Besides how fun it can be to look around and discover exciting new products — many of them in their infancy — it’s also a great learning resource.

It’s a proving ground at scale, with the most-upvoted ideas going on to sometimes become fully fledged businesses. On a whim I decided to check out five popular ideas on ProductHunt and see what they were doing right.

Is there a magic formula to delivering a successful product? It turns out there kind of is. Your product needs to fill a high-demand niche. It needs to be simple and easy to adopt — the more intuitive the better. And lastly, because ProductHunt is such a shark tank, the sort of ideas that get upvoted to immortality are usually presented with slick demos or high production-value videos that get the user excited. Whether you pitch an idea here or sell it on Amazon, so much can be learned from ProductHunt success stories. Let’s dive in!

Station

Station was the first item I perused on ProductHunt. With over 300 reviews, this workflow app is much-loved by its loyal community of users — it was voted product of the month back in October 2017.

One thing I noticed right off the bat was the high-quality intro video embedded on Station’s product page. It uses that catchy, upbeat popular pop/electronic music in the background to create a cheerful vibe. Most importantly, the video comes with an actua demo that … wait for it, demonstrates what it does.

After looking through the demo and reading the reviews for Station, it’s clear that its sleek, universal design successfully aggregates your haphazard web apps into one neat app that’s much easier to use. It prevents death by open tab and makes people more productive — like a CRM for your browser. With a target audience that huge, it’s no wonder that Station found lots of desperate and grateful users who needed better project management tools to make browsing at work easier.

Temperature-Controlled Ceramic Mug by Ember

For the hot beverage connoisseur, this smart mug must be a godsend. It solves a common headache: you pour yourself a cup of coffee, but it’s too hot to drink. So you set your mug down and get some work done. One ProdutHunt search later and all of a sudden thirty minutes have passed and your java is tepid and sad, and so are you.

This mug prevents you from having to microwave your forgotten coffee by delivering you Goldilocks-right coffee or tea at your preferred temperature. Like Station, the target user pool is humongous. Plus the solution here comes in a beautiful, sleek design that is a joy to look at and use.

Something that I’ve noticed again is the aesthetic of content. The product placement photos are especially good here. Observe the woman in a nice big sweater holding the cup and how warm and cozy that looks. Another photos utilizes low lighting and steam wafting enticingly from the mug

Arrive

Like Station and the smart mug, Arrive solves a problem that most of us can instantly relate to. It was product of the day on December 1, 2017. This app saves users time by synthesizing their orders into one easy-to-access app. It kills the headache of searching for order tracking information in your email, in your Amazon or eBay or Walmart account — a major customer experience hurdle for many online sellers.

From watching the demo and reading reviews, it seems like Arrive is super easy to use and insanely helpful. You can’t ask for anything more from an app like this — it’s there to alleviate the sometimes frustrating experience of order fulfillment.

It certainly helps that Arrive has a thoughtful and creative promotional video. Not only does it walk you through a demo of the product, it also delivers an engaging and genuinely funny fake narrative of a baby-faced geek trying to buy beard oil as an example of how Arrive can make life easier for package tracking. Solve a common problem? Check. Educate potential users with a clear and fun video? Checkmate.

NomadList

Product of the month in December 2017, NomadList is doing its best to be a meta source of information for travelers who work — better known as digital nomads. At this point, the digital nomad lifestyle has made it into the mainstream. What used to be a counter-cultural niche has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

And all those remote copywriters, software developers, and graphic designers are itching for a one-stop resource on where to crash next. Bali or Belgrade? Surfing or Skiing? $1,500 a month budget or $5,000? This website puts all the answers into one gigantic filtering tool for digital nomads to plot out their next stop. The interface itself is intuitive and super fun to play around with. It’s free to use, but there is a paid community of 10,000+ members for those who are serious about networking with fellow nomads. By directly appealing to a major need for remote freelancers — the founder of NomadList is of course one himself — this product is a real winner.

Duolingo

Chances are, you’ve heard of this awesome language-learning app. Unlike Rosetta Stone or other language courses which cost into the hundreds of dollars, Duolingo is built on a freemium platform, so there’s no barrier to entry (at least at first). This app took off not long after it won Product of the Week back in December 2013; by 2014, there were 10 million registered users.

Besides the cost factor, what makes DuoLingo so successful is how fun it is to use. It relies heavily on gamification to incentivize the user to keep learning new words, parts of speech, and other linguistic rules. Plus the fun, tongue-in-cheek push notifications keep users from slacking if they haven’t logged in to the app after a certain amount of time. It’s a language coach for people who don’t feel like learning by downloading a bulky program onto their desktop PC. Before DuoLingo, there was no gamified language learning tool for mobile — and at the end of the day, maybe this simple fact made all the difference.

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