FlowMapp 2.0 is almost here! For this interview, we invited a special guest, Andrey Severin, a CEO of FlowMapp, to take a look behind a curtain of the development process, spill the tea on Sitemap and Teams updates, and reveal (several) new and exciting FlowMapp’s features
Andrey is an experienced entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience in design. In 2012 he started a web design agency which became one of Top-100 agencies in Russia. After that, in 2017, he became the CEO of FlowMapp. He plays bass guitar and even traveled with his band to numerous festivals in Poland and Russia. He enjoys being in nature with his wife and son, hiking and kayaking
I had an initial idea for this project back in 2014. At that time, my team created numerous websites as an agency, and even then, the idea of a visual sitemap was in the back of my mind. I wanted to simplify work processes and improve communication with our clients. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough experience to create a high-quality product at that time. But three years later, everything changed. This time we were ready to build and share a valuable tool for UX designers and other professionals. With new team members on board, we started developing a tool that would eventually have 200.000+ users worldwide, known as FlowMapp. The rest, as they say, is history.
At the start, we had a small team consisting of only two developers, two design specialists, one project manager, my co-founder Paul and myself.
The development process was challenging since we had to work on client sites in parallel with the development of the FlowMapp tool. In addition to that, FlowMapp is a bootstrap company, and we did not attract external funding. So we had to pay salaries regularly as well as all our other basic operational expenses. I won’t lie; it was a tough couple of years. But, hey! Now we are here, doing this interview. So, everything turned out great after all.
As simple as it could be! The main features were designing a sitemap using a collection of covers and writing page descriptions. Then users were able to share a link with colleagues and export the data to PDF. That’s it! Even with such a shortlist of features, we got a lot of positive feedback, which helped us a lot and encouraged us to continue working on the product.
Believe it or not, we never actively looked for new clients.
All we did was announce the launch of FlowMapp on specialized platforms, such as Designer News and Quora. We wrote posts, such as: “Hey, we launched a cool UX tool. Check it out and let us know what you think."
After that, word-of-mouth worked for us, which was awesome to see. As ever-evolving specialists, designers are very active online and constantly search for new tools to share with each other. They also often publish reviews on their blogs and post a lot on social media.
We still get a massive percentage of new users through word-of-mouth marketing practices.
"Rework" by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't" by Jim Collins
"Screw It, Let's Do It" by Sir Richard Branson
We received the first few reviews and had a couple of sales even before the official launch, so I had a gut feeling that everything was going to work out early on.
As we were getting ready for a product launch, I wrote tons of tweets on our official Twitter account because I didn't want to launch with blank social media pages. James Young, a famous design expert, saw one of the posts and retweeted it to his feed. After that, we saw a rapid growth in our user base and made our first sales.
It took some time before we realized where people were coming from. So even with a far-from-perfect product, we recognized a great demand for such tools.
I think this trend is even more noticeable now because, after FlowMapp’s release, many similar services have appeared that copy our fundamental ideas and features. Some of them even look identical to us, but I won’t mention any names.
This is a difficult question for me and the whole team, to be honest. For the first three years, the product has developed rapidly and expanded with new functionality. The team grew consistently. At the same time, we had a backlog of technical tasks so big that they simply had to be dealt with.
When the pandemic began, we realized that we needed to improve the platform’s collaborative features for remote teams. Furthermore, our old technology stack restrained us from implementing new ideas, so we made it a priority to improve this situation. We approached the challenge head-on and started rewriting the platform practically from scratch.
You’re right; we’ve made a lot of improvements to the platform. I’m not sure if the technical side will be interesting for our readers, so let me tell you about the changes that users will notice while working with the platform.
I can’t give out everything, as you know. But I can share this:
FlowMapp 2.0. Workspace page
FlowMapp 2.0. Personal workspace page
Text editor! I think our team has created one of the best editors in the design tool market. It is not perfect yet, but give us a couple of months to get there.
Also, many people asked us to make it possible to create several different Sitemaps within one project. And we listened! From FlowMapp 2.0, our users will be able to do this and speed up their work processes by working with several sitemaps within one project.
FlowMapp 2.0 Notes
FlowMapp 2.0. Sitemap
Learn about new technologies and be more observant. Watch what top designers are doing and try to do the same. Practice. Practice that an infinite number of times. At some point, you will realize that you are creating many cool things automatically, and you will be able to add your own style to it.
Celebrate the release of FlowMapp 2.0 with the team, of course! Relax for a couple of days with my family. After that, we will focus on releasing wireframes.
We plan to release new features much faster than before, so stay tuned!