Developing software is like practicing an art —writing concise and flowing code, elegant algorithms and solid architecture. Yet this art stays on computers. Digital. Immaterial. It’s not easily understood by outsiders. The Coder Life initiative transforms this digital art and showcases the beauty of code on everyday objects for the world to admire.
In less than 4 months, we raised $8,000 on Kickstarter to fund a programmer-focused product, which we called the Coder Cards. We conducted market research, design, negotiation with suppliers, marketing, and shipping: in the end, we grossed $15,000 after selling 500+ decks of Coder Cards to customers internationally, on our own website and through Amazon FBA.
If you’re into programming at all or just love the look of code, these cards are awesome! Same quality as bicycle cards, very durable and in my opinion worth a buy – Colin (Amazon)
To identify whether this product was worth building and to see what we needed to accomplish this, we started out by doing market research on software developers, programmers, and other technical folks. This process was made easier by several of our team members being software developers and artists.
Most software developer themed products tend to be clothes and posters featuring coding jokes, or memes. We wanted to create a product that was fun and more interactive than simple eye-candy: decks of playing cards fulfilled that role perfectly, and even more when they featured a snippet of code on each card —each card featuring a different programming language. This would expose the players to 52 different languages and let them see how many they recognize in a fun and interesting way.
We wanted the decks of cards to be printed on a material of highest quality, something that was made possible by the competitive pricing of well-known playing card printing companies like Bicycle and AdMagic. We also wanted the cards to be affordable, with shipping costs as low as possible: the weight and dimensions of a deck of cards made the package eligible for small parcel international shipping with Canada Post, thus fulfilling that wish.
In order to kick off the project and fund the design process, we launched a very successful KickStarter campaign leading to pledges totaling $8,000+ CAD — 400% of our financing goal. Additionally, invaluable constructive feedback from the community allowed for the improvement of the product beyond what we had imagined.
We reached out to the community once more to write and enhance the snippets of code in 52 different languages by crowdsourcing on GitHub and Quora. Funders who contributed also had the opportunity to give shape to the product that they were backing. Most of them would be able to see their very own code on a card of their choice.
We conducted user testing and sent out surveys to finalize the card design and get feedback on the different iterations.
The design’s objective was to appeal to software developers and designers —a goal which was achieved through mimicking a typical code editor with syntax highlighting on the cards.
See all cards on GitHub.
The double slash (‘//’) in the logo represents the beginning of a comment in popular programming languages. Paired with rounded corners, it gives a playful vibe that still retains elements important to software developers.
To promote the Coder Life decks, we ran several promotional campaigns on Facebook and Instagram with eye-catching pictures. We offered discounts during the holidays to make our product an appealing gift idea, and targeted our efforts towards our niche market. We offered an additional 10% discount on our website for people who would share our product on social media and included thank you cards with each package sent.
One of the events most distinctive in the world of software developers is a hackathon. As such, we teamed up with the deCODE Hackathon, an event running in four cities across Canada and involving companies such as Microsoft, Google and Shopify. Participants who distinguished themselves received a Coder Life deck of cards as a prize, which promoted the brand.
Acting as an online shopfront for the Coder Life decks, the Coderlife.io website needed to remain subtle, stylish, and with great attention to the little details.
The challenge we faced was designing a beautiful website that truly reflects the values of the brand and of the customers, whilst simultaneously encouraging potential buyers to purchase the product. This was achieved by showcasing the product as often as possible through beautiful photography.
We targeted companies by offering them Coder Life decks featuring their logo, to be used as promotional material. Here is an example with the Amazon logo (note that we are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with Amazon).
Ideas came to fruition, and in less than 4 months, we raised $8,000 on Kickstarter to fund a programmer-focused product, which we called the Coder Cards. We conducted market research, design, negotiation with suppliers, marketing, and shipping: in the end, we grossed $15,000 after selling 500+ decks of Coder Cards to customers internationally, on our own website and through Amazon FBA.
Key challenges included working under tight deadlines and facing unexpected problems, such as a shipping cost increases throughout the project, all this while keeping a reasonable profit margin.
We are now exploring other programming-related products to create and sell alongside the Coder Cards to truly fulfill the coder life.