Introducing Coursier

Posted on January 23, 2017

A week ago, I launched my first side project Coursier. It's a weekly mailer which contains a video in French found from around the web. The idea is that people can watch a new video every week to practise listening to French and expand their vocabulary.

I created Coursier for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to create a tool that would help me to improve my French – something I've been learning for the past 18 months. Secondly, I wanted to create a small project that I could improve over time – developing, testing and optimising new and existing features.

From idea to live site in one day

It was important to turn this project around as quickly as possible, so I needed to keep it simple. I already had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, so I decided to give myself a day to refine the idea, design it and then build it. 

The approach I took was to create an MVP, a stripped back version of my idea which had only the essential features. I took out any functionality that wasn't essential for launch and when it came to the design, I tried not to get too precious about the details — easier said than done when you're a designer.

This approach did require making some difficult decisions about what to keep and what to drop. For example, I felt including a proficiency option in the sign up would be a great way to tailor the types of videos people would receive, based on their level of French. I felt this feature, however, wasn't critical to the initial build or core idea. It also created three times as much work when it came to finding videos. I decided to put this one in the laterbase for now.

In the end, what I created was a simple sign up form and a basic MailChimp mailer, which will include a link to a video each week. It doesn't sound revolutionary, or particularly exciting, but this forms the basis of my idea and will allow me to verify whether there is demand for this type of service.

What next?

What I've found really good about creating a stripped back version of an idea is that it allows me to get something online quickly, without much investment of my time. It also gives me a foundation to build on, where I can test out new ideas and features to improve the service.

My next steps for this project involve creating some short, mid and long-term goals – defining some KPIs to track and test. These will then inform how to promote the site and what features to implement or improve next.

I will be sharing my progress, successes and failures for this project along with any other findings on my blog. So check in every so often if you wish to stay up to date with this project.

If you'd like to check out Coursier, you can visit the website or follow on Facebook.