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Interview
December 18, 2021

Andrey Severin

The Road to FlowMapp 2.0

December 18, 2021

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 Severin, CEO and Founder of FlowMapp

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

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How did you come up with the idea for FlowMapp in the first place?

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.

 

Andrey Severin and Paul Mit, FlowMapp founders
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How many people were in the team at the beginning of this journey?

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.

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What did the first version of FlowMapp look like?

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.

From FlowMapp’s official Twitter page

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What about first customers? How did you find them?

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.

Andrey recommends these books:

"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

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What was the moment you realized the potential demand for FlowMapp?

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.

 

From Paul’s Twitter page

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.

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FlowMapp users often ask this question on social media, so I have to ask: why haven't we seen a product update this year? 

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.

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During the development stage of FlowMapp 2.0, the team implemented a lot of new updates on the platform. Could you specify the fundamental changes in FlowMapp 2.0 from its last version? 

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.

 

  1. FlowMapp will become more intuitive and easy-to-use;
  2. We’ve improved UX and debugged it;
  3. We’ve also significantly improved collaboration features;
  4. We have completely modernized the design so that it meets current trends in the industry and, most importantly, the expectations of our users. FlowMapp 2.0 looks organic among trendsetters and market leaders.
  5. And, of course, we laid the foundation for the next set of significant changes in the future (spoiler: we’ve started working on one of the most anticipated features - Wireframes).

What are your favorite tools for a productive work?

Notes
Notes

I know, I'm not too creative with this one, but I use standard Notes on iOS for short notes

Notion
Notion

Notion helps me structure important information about product and processes in the company

FlowMapp
FlowMapp

And you should too!

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Wow! I’m excited for users who will try it out very soon! Could you share more details about the collaborative features that were anticipated by FlowMapp users?

I can’t give out everything, as you know. But I can share this:

 

  • First, we replaced Teams with Workspaces. Workspaces will straighten the project management system in the product.
  • A Personal workspace is automatically created for each user by default regardless of their plan. For project teams starting from the Team plan, we’ve added the option to create a Team Workspace, invite other users, and manage their permissions. This feature will help teams organize workflows and demonstrate intermediate outcomes to clients.

FlowMapp 2.0. Workspace page

FlowMapp 2.0. Personal workspace page

  • Collaboration will become more effective. For example, users will be able to see their colleagues in the project online and see what they are working on. It will allow people to work more productively by swiftly joining forces and adding necessary changes. They will also be able to leave comments almost anywhere in the project, which will help teams stay on the same page.
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Which new feature are you proudest of in the FlowMapp 2.0 release?

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

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What advice would you give to young designers?

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.

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There’s only one question left. What are you planning to do next?

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!