Stackshare? No. Hacker News? Nope. Stack Overflow? Not even close. Indie Hackers? Nah. We're talking about The Hack Stack.
The Hack Stack is a labor of love from an independent maker to enable the discovery and sharing of new products, tools, and services to help you build your side projects or entrepreneurial ventures. It's a community site without all of the normal trappings of a community site.
Although the creator has no desire to monetize The Hack Stack (never say never), the design and user experience should be treated with the same care and thoughtfulness as a site that is trying to blitz-scale to 1 trillion users.
To be clear, I am not degrading this site in any way or suggesting that it has not been built with care, but I will approach my analysis as I would any other landing page.
In that spirit, let's take a look at The Hack Stack and see how it stacks up. 🤣
As always, see the full landing page at the bottom of the post.
The way I see things...
When I look at a landing page, I look at four key areas.
AudienceIs there a clear audience and does the page speak to that audience?
CopyIs the copy concise, engaging, and is there a consistent voice?
DesignIs the overall design functional, nice to look at, and accessible? How does it make me feel?
Calls to actionAre there clear CTAs that demand attention and do what they say they are going to do?
How many hacks could the hack stack stack?
When I first navigate to the site it is not clear who the audience is or what I am even supposed to do. Sure, words like "hack" and "stack" carry a certain weight and I am able to free associate my way to a general idea, but by the time this idea arrives I'm starting to feel confused and scared and my pinky is already pressing down control and my middle finger is hovering above the "w" key about to close the tab, but then I see it. I see it three cards down on the right-hand side...
The about card
If you look at other community sites like Product Hunt, Hacker News, or reddit, there is no headline, explainer, or even a word that tells you what the site is or who it is for. The difference, however, is that these sites are so well established that if you don't know what it is, you can reach out to your best friend's mom, your seventh grade history teacher, or even your local politician and they will be able to tell you.
Indie Hackers does something really cool here, so take notes. The image on the left shows the logged-in state of the website. No explainer, no indication of where you are except for the logo. The image on the right shows their logged-out state. Try this little side-by-side for yourself if you want to.
Do you see that card on the right side of the logged-out page? I know I did – almost immediately. The copy gets straight to the point and doesn't ask you to "Sign Up" or "Register," but asks you to join the team.
And if you are on mobile or a smaller device, it is even more prominent.
I am sure one day the Hack Stack name will be just as recognizable as those others, but for now, make sure your visitors just have to be conscious to know what you're all about.
What are you about?
The copy on the about card's call to action is not very exciting and, in fact, makes the CTA less effective.
I know this site is the non-community community site, but even the simple function of upvoting requires a certain level of engagement, especially since the user is required to register to make those post tiles dance.
Although this CTA checks some of the boxes, the "Add product (login)" phrase makes me think 'oh, so I'm just supposed to add my own product and run like hell.' The language should be more engaging and tie back into the theme and brand of the site.
Hacks all the way down
The CTA on The Hack Stack Newsletter works. No reason to be cute here since the you want to be very clear that they are signing up to receive email messages. The copy below is workable, but it can be made punchier and more consistent with the brand. Instead of "stuff submitted to the Hack Stack," just call them "Hacks" like at the top of the posts section.
So, what did we learn?
✔️ Clearly tell the user who you are and how you can help them.
✔️ Make sure you are clear about your own goals. If you create friction to participate (registration) make sure you communicate or show value up front.
✔️ Be consistent with your brand copy and messaging. People notice this stuff.
What do you think?
Reach out on twitter and let me know what you think.