WhatIsFresh.com was a solo project I designed and developed because I wanted to understand more intuitively what went into designers and developers building and launching products. It was also a sandbox for exploring marketplace dynamics.
The site let users find anything at NY farmers markets by searching or browsing markets, vendors or products. A few weeks after launch, I cold-emailed the famed NY Times food reporter Florence Fabricant to show her the site. She replied that it was the best tool she'd seen for exactly what I had built it to do. And that's how my little side project ended up in the NYTimes!
But what happened before launch? I spent a lot of time at farmers markets with my macbook. I talked to so many people. Shoppers and vendors. As I built features, I would show people what I was working on and get feedback.
I'd sit with farmers at their stalls and help them add their products to our system. I iterated on a lot of features based on those interactions: systems to let vendors highlight "peak products", a UI to easily add lots of varieties of products, and a feature to post tweet-like announcements.
All that work paid off not just with the NYTimes writeup, but also with users. The site got over a million views, and for a while it was the go-to resource for New Yorkers who shopped at farmers markets, including a lot of famous chefs. Inspired by the vision, we also had some volunteer writers and photographers who contributed to a blog that featured deep-dives on markets, farmers, products and more.
After an initial fail with Flicktribe, WhatIsFresh gave me the confidence to know I could successfully build and launch products people wanted and used. That led to my next project, which turned into Craft Coffee →
On market pages, users could filter by the day they wanted to shop. Clicking on a vendor took the user to the vendor's page.
On vendor pages, users could see all the products and varieties the vendor carried, what was in season, and which markets the vendor attended. I also built a feature that let vendors post Tweet-like announcements on their pages.