FoodNoms has had an incredible first two months. I'm extremely proud of what I've accomplished so far:
- 💵 I've built a thing that actually generates revenue – FoodNoms currently has over 540 paying subscribers! This isn't anywhere close to a "quit your day job" level of income, but it is far above my original expectations.
- ⭐️ The app has received 85 ratings in the US App Store, with an average rating of 4.7 stars.
- 📲 I've released ten updates that have introduced significant improvements to the app, including saved foods, meals, recipes, new goal types, and more.
- 🗞 FoodNoms has been covered by several top-tier publications, including MacStories, 9to5Mac, iMore, and MacLife.
- 🐦 The app's Twitter account currently has 499 followers, which is more than my personal account had a year ago.
- 💌 I've received countless messages from customers telling me how much they love the app and thanking me for making it.
Still, some things could be better:
- 📉 Download counts have declined significantly.
- 🚨 A shocking amount of people install the app, open it, and never log any food.
- 🌊 There was a significant amount of churn after month one.
- 🌧 Total active subscriber count is now stable, however it is not growing.
Now that meals and recipes are done, which were both deal breakers for many people, I'm excited to move on to new projects!
Please note that this is a roadmap, not a list of commitments. My plans may change due to feedback or unforeseen circumstances.
1. Overhaul Onboarding
An alarming amount of people (~65%) install the app and never log any food. Obviously, this is a huge problem! Clearly my onboarding sucks and needs a complete rethink.
2. Improve Goals
In the long-term, I view goals as a huge area of opportunity to differentiate FoodNoms from my competitors. In the short-term, I will be implementing some small changes that should have a big impact: more goals types, the ability to view charts with longer time periods, and goal suggestions/calculators.
3. Add Notifications
Several customers have asked for a notifications feature. I expect this to be straightforward to implement, and I'm betting that it will have a measurable impact on retention.
4. Start Offering a Trial Option
I am hopeful that by offering a trial for FoodNoms Plus, I can do a better job of demonstrating the value of FoodNoms Plus to more users.
5. Expand the Food Database
I conducted a customer survey in late December, and by far the clearest takeaway from the results is that FoodNoms users want a better food database.
I have spent a lot of time evaluating my options here. There's a lot of things I had to consider: financial risk, potential changes to pricing, focusing on US vs non-US foods, constraints due to contractual agreements, lock-in and transition costs, and privacy implications.
I have decided to continue to host my own database, and expand the dataset through licensing and crowdsourcing.
Advantages of this approach:
- US customers should see an immediate improvement in search results, particularly for branded foods and fast food restaurants
- I maintain full control over the data and search algorithm, making it easier for me to update and add in new sources of data down the road
- All network requests from the app will continue to go to my servers, so I don't have to be concerned about customer data being collected by another company
- I am confident in the quality of the data that I will be licensing
- Less financial risk
- No need to put any of these changes behind a paywall
- The licensed data won't include barcodes, so the experience for looking up foods via barcodes won't improve overnight
- The licensed data will primarily benefit customers in the US; non-US customers may see a slight improvement
- I'll need to spend time implementing systems to protect the integrity of the database, in order to meet obligations dictated by the licensing agreement
- I'll need to figure out how to effectively moderate the crowdsourced data
- I'll be continuing to maintain my own server infrastructure, which will become more complicated and expensive with these changes
I view most of the disadvantages as temporary. As FoodNoms grows, crowdsourced data should grow as well. In the long-term, I'll have opportunities to obtain more international nutrition data.
I think many of my customers are going to be very happy with these improvements to the food database.
6. Adopt Sign in with Apple
Currently, you don't need to create any sort of account to use FoodNoms. Which is really quite amazing. You can't get a more-seamless onboarding experience than that!
Due to the changes I'm making to the food database, I'm going to be transitioning to the next best thing, which is Sign in with Apple. With this change, I'll be able to verify the authenticity of the user making requests to the FoodNoms database server. Your privacy will still be protected and the sign-in experience will still be as minimal as possible.
7. Ship an Apple Watch app
Before I launched FoodNoms, I had tentatively planned to start working on a Watch version of the app in December. However, I received a lot of feedback from the launch that completely changed my priorities.
I have now addressed most of that feedback, so the Watch app is near the top of the list again. I think this is going to be a really fun project – I can't wait to get started!
(I'm also hopeful that by offering a Watch app, FoodNoms has a higher chance of being featured on the App Store. I'm not banking on this happening, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)
Since launch, I've shipped 10 updates in the span of 2.5 months, which averages to around one update per week.
I have really enjoyed shipping these frequent updates. However, I expect the pace of updates to decrease going forwards. Most of these changes I've listed are pretty large in scope. I have decided to coalesce some of the larger changes into a single update, on order to have a higher change of getting press coverage.
This project has been, and continues to be, an extraordinary learning experience. Thank you to all of my customers and supporters that have been a part of this journey.