Heavy Mural hangs with the cool kids

February 4th, 2011
by Brian

Heavy Mural was launched in late March, 2009 to little fanfare due, in large part, to our lack of marketing. Over the following months, we got the word out via Facebook, letting our friends know about the project we had created, or by posting in the comments section for related articles, like here or here. While you could argue that the latter was a little bit 'spammy', our goal has always been to help people get pixel mural projects on walls without substantial hair loss, and we felt our project was helpful to the readers. Each time we posted to an article's comment section, we would see a decent raise in our traffic during the time that the article was current. This was always followed by a short "tail" when the article lost visibility. We would continue to see traffic from those sites, but it was significantly reduced (around 50-60 hits while article is active vs. 2-3 hits once article is archived) as the articles moved off of front page. This is how we got the word out about Heavy Mural.

When Google launched the Chrome Web Store in December, 2010, we saw another opportunity to give Heavy Mural some much needed visibility. As it turns out, it is pretty easy to turn an existing website (ehem - web app) into an application on the Chrome Web Store. All it took to get us in the Web Store was $5, a manifest file, and some images. Once everything was uploaded and verified, we sat back and watched the magic happen. Except not much happened. Not at first.

The first couple of weeks in the Web Store, Heavy Mural was an invisible app. A few lucky souls happened across it and I am sure that it enriched their lives to no end, but all in all, we only saw an additional 5-10 users per day. Amazing? No. But given our lack of marketing, any little bit was a win.

Fast forward to Monday, January 31, 2011. During our normal morning check-in, Chris mentioned that he had checked the analytics for Heavy Mural and we had seen a significant spike over the weekend. Sure enough, the daily numbers were a little higher than usual:

  • Thursday, Jan. 27 - 13 visits
  • Friday, Jan 28 - 81 visits
  • Saturday, Jan 29 - 117 visits
  • Sunday, Jan 30 - 119 visits

Heavy Mural had gained some popularity, but where was the traffic coming from? Were we on the front page of the Chrome Web Store? No, and judging by the quality of the banner images that I designed for promotional use, this is no wonder (see below). I checked the Heavy Mural page on the Web Store. There were more users, more weekly installs, but no ratings or reviews.

(will not get design job at Apple)

I was finally able to find the answer to our newfound traffic in a usual place - Google. One of the search results for 'heavymural.com' showed that we were being listed on the 'Art & Design' collection page, along with 9 other apps, including deviantART muro, Mockingbird, and a couple Aviary apps. That is good company to be keeping, for sure. I also discovered that the collections are being displayed on the Web Store's home page sidebar. So, I think it is safe to say that this is where the new traffic is being generated.

Now we are entering the weekend, which is the time that we usually see the most traffic on Heavy Mural. It is 5:00pm PST on Friday and we are sitting at 295 visits for the day -- just a few visits shy of 300 and up from yesterday's 145. This may seem like small potatoes to some, but for a project that didn't really have a marketing plan outside of showing to our friends, getting around 300 users viewing, and hopefully using, the site a day is a great feeling. And hopefully that feeling will continue, or else that was a waste of $5. Just kidding.

If you are interested in making a hosted app for the Chrome Web Store, the documentation is here.

Posted in apps, chrome web store, design, flash, heavy mural, traffic, web development, work sample