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I'm a pregnant hacker. Please review my side project. (babyli.st)
485 points by natgordon on Feb 3, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments

I'm 8-months pregnant. When I went to create a baby registry I was pretty disappointed with what was out there (I ended up using Amazon Universal Wishlist). I found myself with some time on my hands waiting for baby, and decided that I'd build a better baby registry. I partnered with a great designer I met on forrst.com, and this is the result.

I'd love any feedback, suggestions etc.

Looks great - wish it had been available when we registered. We had a lot of frustrations with the BRU registry process. Some suggestions:

1. Have generic options for clothing, since there is a huge turnover in baby clothes at most retailers (BRU doesn't even offer pictures for most clothes on the website) - size and item type (3 month onesie, newborn footy pjs, etc.)

2. Offer some suggested items / basic lists to get people started, or consider more social aspects to let people give feedback on other people's lists - there seems to be a big market for this kind of info (see: baby bargain books). This might be a way to keep users engaged after they are done with their own list.

3. Have options for non-purchased gifts or other items to be added, like home-cooked meals or babysitting - lots of people wanted to offer these kinds of things

4. Have options for monetary donations - this is how a lot of cultures work (red envelopes for chinese, etc.) and it would be great to support it in one place

5. Provide links to sign up for store registries to get all the freebies they provide for signing up - lots of people love this kind of thing. This is also a competitive point to consider - the discount stores provide to "complete" your registry was a good way to get a discount on the high-ticket items.

6. Consider ways to offer future gifts - diaper subscriptions or clothes for older babies that could arrive in the future so you don't have to worry about storing it and remembering it 6 months later.

Very professional, I would say. Even though as a Dutchman I'm not really familiar with the concept, I immediatly understood what you are offering. The call to action couldn't be more straightforward and the "works with.." section does exactly what it needs to do. The safety pin is a nice touch.

Also, I can appreciate what you've done and why: I'm an allround developer, so when my wife and I were looking for a name for my oldest child, I quickly decided to build a name site myself. It's online in two languages: in Dutch as http://www.zeevannamen.nl and in English as http://www.valleyofnames.com.

I'd be happy to have a banner pointing to you site, if you wish? Maybe we can cooperate in other ways as well. Let me know if you have any thoughts on that.

We should team up or something... I made this baby names website a couple years ago when my wife and I were looking for baby names. I didn't like the sites out there too much and made this to help search. (since then I've been so busy with the kids and main job that I have neglected my baby names site).

http://www.babynameclusters.com/ http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=370745

Yeah, I did the same thing. The babynamewizard was a neat ooh, aah, tech demo, but (as of early 2008 when it was literally nothing more than a dynamically updating prefix-based stacked line graph) useless for actually helping choose a name. My contribution to the genre, with the goal of being helpful in choosing a name, was: http://nametrends.net

Nice job! I agree about the uselessness of baby name wizard. You did a great job making it more interesting. Are you having any luck getting visitors or higher in organic search?

In Jul. 08 got links from Freakonomics and Kottke which led to a little burst. Ongoing organic traffic (I essentially haven't update the site except to keep the data fresh each year) seems to be about 1M page views/year. Squarely in the no profit/hobby territory, but enough that I do keep updating the data.

The design really looks great. We're always looking for good designers to work with, but not being a designer myself, I'm not a member of forrst.

Are you a member, or did you browse the work posted and contact someone directly? Would love to hear more about that process.

I'm a member, but not actively.

I had the idea for the site and posted it (http://forrst.com/posts/Any_designers_interested_on_collabor... but I don't think this link will work if you're not logged in)

This is what I wrote:


I'm a ruby on rails developer and I'm 5 months pregnant.

Today I created a baby registry and it was a nightmare. I ended up using the amazon.com universal wishlist. It's a bookmarklet that lets you add any product on the web to an amazon wishlist. Unlike a registry, your friends and family "reserve" an item instead of actually buying it from the specific store that has the registry.

My idea is to create a new website "baby registry anywhere" (terrible name) where you can add and reserve items similar to the universal wishlist. I think it would also be cool to be able to add more than one link for an item, so your friends/family could choose where to purchase it.

I could probably code a minimal, launchable version in a week (or 5 Fridays). In the past I've hired designers for projects but I'd love to work with someone as partners on this.


I had a kind of overwhelming response and clicked with one designer via text chat and we went forward. In retrospect, I've spent way more than 5 days on this.

Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

-from Gödel, Escher, Bach

You know someone's a programmer when they even talk in recursion.

Hacker News: Hacker acronym can keep employing recursion; news explores web sites.

Congrats! I'm thrilled to hear that you found someone through Forrst. Clicking around the project -- looks awesome.

Can any forrst.com members send me an invite? I'd love to check out the site. My email is lalalee at hotmail.com . Thanks.

Happy to send invites. Just email me at Kyle At forrst .com

I'm still in awe at how well this turned out. Huge kudos to you both. And, made me realize: Clearly we need to do a better job keeping tabs on awesome collabs like this. I'm certain there must be more.

I tried signing up and was surprised that a Twitter account is required.

I usually don't post my address, but this is too good to give up on! I'd like an invite, if possible. dan.raz+forrst at gmail

I would like one too if possible. My email is alexgandy at gmail dot com. Thanks.

Please add me too ... "steve dot moyer plus forrst at selesy dot com". Thanks!

I also would like an invite: eric dot holloway at gmail dot com

I'd like one as well... sbc at charrington dot com. TIA!

How does the partnership work in this case? % of revenues? % of the project/venture? What if the designer gets too busy with other projects?

Sorry, I am being curious because most of us hackers are in the same boat when it comes to design.

From my POV, I waited until I was sure that the designs were what I was going to go forward with (this took about 4-5 weeks, maybe 2-3 iterations of different pages and colors). Then I proposed a % of revenue for x amount of time and it was accepted.

The project has moved slower than if I'd hired a designer (for example Lindsey is currently defending her thesis at school and is 100% focused on that). But I maybe always had the trump card by being like "We need to launch before I have a baby".

Overall I think I got lucky and I'm not sure what advice I'd give. Forrst is like HN for (hungry) designers though.

Are you able to share how the partnership was executed? Was it a verbal/email commitment or did you draft up some legal agreements?

Congrats on the launch! The app looks awesome.

Great site and thanks for the background info. As a developer, I'm always in need of good design. I love the site design and the story of how you found the designer. I hadn't heard of Forrst. If anyone has a spare invite to kick my way, I applied for membership.

Thanks for the advise. I too think that partnership with a designer is a great thing. Things keep changing and you need more design help when you are iterating through ideas.

Thank you, that's extremely helpful. Congrats again on the site, it looks awesome.

Interesting website, very well designed.

I was baffled at first, because I didn't understand what a 'baby registry' is (despite the fact that I have two kids). Had to google it :) and now I understand. We have similar tradition for weddings, but not for babies. I wish you all the best.

This is great, and it's awesome that you guys are back in the game after going through a big 'dip': http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1325785


They are back in the other game, too (lenguajero.com). See this blog post, which happens to be called "back in the game": http://aflanagan.com/back-in-the-game/.

Quote: "Instead of building something complicated that was based on our free community (i.e. a freemium service), I decided to write two guides about something I know about, and something our users care about, learning Spanish slang."

Best use of nesting instinct ever.

Wow, congratulations. The product is really well executed, and the simple fact you did it, and also looked for a partner, is awesome.


Looks great, and as someone with four young children I would say that it's a winner concept for the niche. Targeting a specific niche is a very worthwhile pursuit, especially given that advertisers focused on new and upcoming parents are some of the most desperate to make contact.

Congratulations on seeing it through.

I love the site, although I am certainly not your market (male, don't want kids).

However, a month ago someone posted an almost identical concept to HN. I think it was for wedding registries though.

Overall, great concept, attractive website, and a real need.

My only criticism relates to it being fairly obvious. What hacker hasn't bought a wedding/baby gift and thought "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a registry for any store?" My point is, I'm sure this has been tried hundreds of times. So you have to ask yourself, "Why didn't those become mainstream, despite solving an obvious need?" and figure out how yours will execute differently. I really don't know the answer, but it has a lot to do with the ease of saying "I'm registered at Bed Bath & Beyond" (which everyone knows) over, "I'm registered with a new universal registry, which shows you what you can get at any online store, it's Babyli.st BABYLI.ST"

I'd really love to know your thoughts, because this same problem applies to a lot of different ideas where large brick & mortar stores still reign king, despite obvious inefficiencies.

I hear you. I think the one thing that makes this different is that I'm not going after the universal wishlist market, just the baby registry market. When you go to create a baby registry you're not like "oh, i need a wishlist of items for the baby".

I'm just starting to market this with people in the pregnancy/baby space, and so far they seem to think this is a totally original idea made just for them.

One facet that I really like is the brand names listed. Not even for credibility, but for integration. I know that baby car-seat I saw at IKEA is probably available since the IKEA logo is there. Great job with doing this!

FYI - I just received an invitation to a baby shower with a reference to www.amazingregistry.com. Your site looks much more pleasant than theirs, and you have a more narrow focus... but since their URL ended up on a real baby shower invitation, I'd say they are your competition.

>since their URL ended up on a real baby shower invitation

Sounds like there's an angle there for promotion - printable invitations, email invite list that tracks responses, free printed snail mail invites (team up with a print house that would take that opportunity) ...?

I agree with at least one thing bdclimber14 seems to be implying. babyli.st is a 'cute' domain name, but I think it is an extremely poor choice for domain names you want people to remember. How are you supposed to pronounce that to someone? Baby - lee - dot - ess - tee ? (I know, that's terrible -- I can't come up with something better). I still think it is true, for better or for worse, that for businesses the best choice is still a good .com domain (or if you can't get a good one, a .net domain is a not-as-good second choice).

Unfortunately for you, babylist.com is taken -- but babylist.net is available. I know it can be hard to find an available domain in the .com realm that closely matches what you want, but I still think it is important. I think those business domains which have succeeded despite having a .(something-other-than-com) domain name have done so despite that disadvantage.

That's a good point but to be fair anyone who is using a baby register is far more likely to post it to their facebook page, or email it to family members (who are most likely already on facebook), rather than spell it out directly. If you're visiting the new family personally you're not the target for a register anyway, necessarily (as you've got direct access to the source).

Also, natgordon - great site. If it was useful outside of the US I'd point several friends to it immediately.

Ironically, I'm writing a blog now about how to pick a good domain.

I disagree about .net domains, especially for a market of mothers; traditionally, they aren't hackers like the creator here :)

It's not even the domain name quality that I'm questioning-it's the convenience of stopping by a brick & mortar store with an exact item to pick up. I know you're thinking "the internet much more convenient, but not if its a process you're not used to.

It's the same root cause as to why people send files back and forth via email - it's so engrained in people, that its the status quo.

So the real challenge here I think is breaking that social norm that retail giants have cemented in us.

I just tried to buy babylist.net and it's taken :)

So there are 2 groups of people.

1. registrants (people having babies) - branding here is important and the name could bite me. Let me know if you have any suggestions for other names.

2. people buying the registrant gifts - BabyList doesn't even have search which is a default wishlist/registry feature. I think giving someone a pretty url slug and letting them email it/share it/link to it, is not going to be a problem.

The url really doesn't matter. The name does, and it's great.

My advice would be to use the proper spelling ('Babylist') in general - especially in your html titles - and in no time you'll be #1 for the term, regardless of spelling:


> The name does, and it's great.

People will go to babylist.com. They will probably copy the concept if it takes off.

Bad idea.

"People" will Google "babylist". Remember that the vast majority of the people using the web have no idea what a browser is, much less a URL. Even when they have a URL, that ubiquitous google box is the place it gets put.

...and google "babylist" returns surprise surprise babylist.co.uk

It seems silly to try and compete with established players.

1. there's caution, and then there's 'thinking small'

2. the owner of the domain is a single-location brick and mortar retailer, with no e-commerce. that would inform my thought process, were in in the OP's shoes

People will go to google and type babylist. (Or even search for babylist.com.)

Thanks. That's how I'm doing all the branding on the site now. I'm not appearing in google yet, but I'm paying for ads with one of their $100 off coupons.

Try thinking of a baby shower concept/activity that participants have an emotional connection to. Usually the concept is a slightly slang term meaning there's a higher chance of the domain being available.

If it were a wedding registry, I would suggest maybe HitchedList? It would be better than WeddingList since it's less general. Obviously this doesn't help directly, but maybe will inspire some ideas!

I think the best startup names are those that relate to a market's pathos.

Alta Vista had a great search engine in the 90's. Google could have easily said "search is obvious, it's been done." Obviously this is a very extreme example, but almost every business will have some aspect that's "been done."

In fact, as an entrepreneur, you almost always want it to have been done before. It is much easier to say "Amazon wish lists specifically for expectant parents" than it is to try to define a totally new market.

Start-ups are created and thrive in those pockets of inefficiency that large corporations leave in their wake. The best entrepreneurs use that as leverage rather than shying away from it.

I don't agree with this meme. Alta Vista had a terrible search engine in the 90s and so did everyone else. The need for better search was obvious and regularly called for at the time.

It hasn't been done well. The one company that has been dong this is myregistry.com. If you've ever used that service you know it's just begging for a better-designed competitor.

I was really going to implement this when I got married a few months ago but couldn't find an elegant way to confirm when a guest had purchased a gift. Sending an e-mail is OK but it's not 100% accurate. This can lead to duplicate gifts which are a big pain.

MyRegistry has done this, the big thing they haven't done it price comparison, and their design is absolutely begging for someone to do it better. We were on HN a few days ago, and hoping to do just that. We let users price compare while also integrating with traditional registries (registrystop). http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2136619

You've hit the nail right on the head. I've had the same idea and articulated some of the problems here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2176962.

Here's my number one feature request that wishlists never seem to support: partial contributions. This is even more the case with baby registries, where families might want help with high-cost items (carseats, cribs etc) but where well-wishers are generally going to contribute something in the $20 range.

Ideally, I want to be able to contribute $20 towards that $80 carseat. If A, B & C also contribute, the item should be sent as coming from me, A, B & C. If only myself and A contribute, you should be given the opportunity to put in your $40 to complete the purchase.

Just my 2 cents.

[Edit: Basically I would like the lovechild of a wishlist with something like http://www.chipin.com/ - do that and you can really differentiate yourself]

Hi frossie,

We actually support that at Wishpot (so, we may be the lovechild you're looking for!). Any wish can be enabled for contributions, and then instead of purchasing it, the "buy it" button turns into a progress bar. The cash goes straight into your paypal account - we don't take a cut and aren't a middleman. There's a little how-to here: http://www.wishpot.com/help/how-to-contributions.aspx

Let me know what you think, would love your feedback - tom at wishpot.com


I like the idea, but doing it would involve a lot of payment processing shenanigans (not an unsolved problem by any means - i.e. kickstarter - but definitely a significant hurdle for a weekend project).

Maybe WePay has an API? I haven't checked it out since it doesn't work outside of US, so I have no use of it.

That sounds like a good idea. Maybe some kind of integration with a WePay type service?

check out our API! wepay.com/developer - it would let you do what you're describing pretty easily

One followon idea. If you know the approximate birthdate of the delivery, you can contact customers a year later suggesting first birthday present ideas.

And second birthday ideas.

And third birthday ideas.

You get the idea.

Just make sure something like this does not happen:

"9 – BabyCalc.com – If you were about to have a baby you could go on this site and punch in some numbers then it would email you as your baby was growing and let you know what was going on… “like 10 days until you should be able to tell the sex of your baby!” or “Babys heart beat starts today” ect.. stuff like that.. I paid to have the backend developed and the site was about 95% completed (about a 1500$ investment). Then a very close friend of the family had a miscarriage about 15 weeks into her pregnancy and told us about how she had signed up for all these baby websites and now they keep emailing her stuff and she breaks down and cries every time…. I just wanted no part of that…"


I'm posting this on a throw away account, not my regular user name for obvious reasons.

I used to work for one of these baby companies. It was an interesting challenge coding wise due to the large volume of data they dealt with.

When I first joined what they didn't tell me is that all e-mails about miscarriages and deceased babies would be forwarded to my work inbox. It was then my job to add the flag to the user's account on the database, that way the marketing e-mails and so on would stop. Users could do this themselves, but often they wouldn't find the menu option to do so as it's hidden away, and it's harder to find when you're stressed, so instead they e-mailed us. What shocked me was the sheer volume of e-mails like this I had to deal with from understandably distraught users.

What's worse is that sometimes you'd get an e-mail from a mother who has given birth to a still-born baby or had a baby with SIDS, asking for things like a specialist photographer, or other service who can provide the sensitivity and care they require.

When you here statistics like this it's one thing, but to get e-mails from people, knowing each one relates to a real deceased infant every day it slowly wears you down.

That's one job that haunts me when I least expect it. A lot more people have miscarriages than I first expected.

That's awful. Babylist has a settings tab with a big delete button for that reason.

There are currently successful services like that. I really don't think that's that big of a deal. There are triggers for that sort of thing everywhere; clothes you bought already, other people's babies, etc.

It's a valid concern. I think they can have a workaround this problem by offering a discount on say diapers or some kind of other fringe benefit to parents confirming the birth.

There are currently successful services like that. I really don't think that's that big a deal. There are triggers for that sort of thing everywhere; clothes you bought already, other people's babies, etc.

There wasnt an unsubscribe?

I understand how that can make one feel - but I dont think that focusing on miscarriage or SIDS is the right perspective.

I think (understandably) no prospective parent, upon losing their baby for any reason, is going to have "oh yeah, cancel those website reminders" at the forefront of their minds. Certainly, all it would take is probably the first email from one of them to arrive, but subscribing after the fact doesn't un-kick you in the teeth.

Of course I agree with you - but is that chance that one of the subscribers to your service losing their child reason enough for you to NOT create the functions described?

That was my point. I have a 6-year old and a baby currently loading with delivery in July. I also have a very dear friend who lost her second child to SIDS.

We are getting the "Your baby is currently the size of an avocado" emails -- We like the service.

The fear of a customer of such service's potential pain, while real and however small, shouldn't deter the availability of the service.

You're thinking of it from the perspective of a single user, in which case the chance of miscarriage is relatively small. However, if you think of it from the perspective of the entire user base, then the likelihood that someone who receives an avocado email suffered a miscarriage is close to 1.

do parents that just lost their baby have checking e-mail high on their agenda?

Considering the 15 people who are going to be sending condolances letters once it hits the rumor mill? yep.

kids these days... a quick call from my parents and in-laws would have been enough for us...

Totally agree. My sister emails around lists of things to buy for my twin two-year-old nieces. Then she has to check with everyone to make sure there's no dup's, etc.

I'd love to see the ability to organize by child, so my sister, for example, could put items into either child's registry.

Simple, awesome, easy to use, and real-life purpose.

It is very well done.

Somebody already posted this on your suggestion forum, but I do like the idea of allowing people an option to offer item suggestions. Expand that idea by also allowing people to alternately "buy" something like a gift card (redeemable credit) for the moms; this would be helpful for the people out there who want to buy a gift, but who don't necessarily want to swoon over baby items. (e.g. Target gift card)

Congrats for the mom-to-be!

This is perhaps the best comment on this post. Gift cards should convert really well and has a very good CPA.

Perhaps also allow gifting 'cash' via paypal and run affiliate links for the paypal signup.

Just so long as the suggestions don't end up being spam!

definitely gift cards, they are known as the single most purchased gift for any occasion.

We recently experienced similar frustration with the lack of a good universal registry mechanism for babies. While this makes sense, in the same way that most stores try to keep all registries internal, from a consumer standpoint it remains quite lacking.

I think it's great. Color scheme and style are very appealing and appropriate. The one awkward point for me is the "plus any other online store" tag after the noteworthy logos. It seems a little too much like an add-on. Maybe something a little bigger (to draw attention to the fact that your service is universal), with text suggesting, "BabyList registry works with any online retailer!" and then have an "including:" or "featured" listing over your images?

Just my two cents.

Great feedback. It was an after-thought because the first people who looked at it were like "oh, i can only register at those 6 stores". Thanks.

Seems very, very promising. It's simple, it's easy to use and looks both nice and cute (as in, not some website from 10 years ago without a single retouch); in a twitter'ish way, if you know what I mean.

I have a question about the logos, as this is a subject I myself always fear when creating a new side project: Is it safe to have other companies' logos on ones site (as listed on yours), or is it possible to face infrightment allegations? Thinking about issuing a .us based project, I'm a bit afraid of somebody suing me for something like that.

Thanks, and congratulations!

I'm kind of worried about the logos. But a cease and desist would happen before a lawsuit.

How about; ' + everyone else! '?

I completely agree with this. Even with the text add-on that box initially made me think only those retailers were included.

The first thing I did was try it out at an off-brand online store. It worked great and I was "surprised and delighted" (to us a term that may be familiar to HNers).

Great job!

Looks great!

When we had our first child, I couldn't find an online registry that I liked, so I scripted a rudimentary one up one night. It worked really well. My wife loved that she could register for intangibles like "Bring us dinner", or any gift from any store. When the baby was born, I took a lengthy paternity leave and, like you, thought I'd build a web app for others to use the registry. I actually took the idea to a local startup bootcamp and it was torn apart by the instructors/angels and left to die on the boardroom floor. Too hard to generate sufficient revenue. Here are a couple of tidbits from my experience for you:

1. One angel had invested in a universal registry and said it took them three years to find any revenue at all. What they did was pivot into a wedding registry that enabled guests to contribute to the couple's honeymoon fund. They made money on travel agent referrals to the couple.

2. This is a crowded market.

A lot of the comments in this thread (like mine!) note how great your site looks. When I showed my site to the bootcamp people, I emphasized my slick design. They essentially said, "No one gives a crap! What problem does it solve that isn't already solved by someone else!"

I thought, "But, but, but... everyone is like me right? Tech savvy and appreciative of good design and UX?"

Check out http://wishpot.com. They are a universal registry. All web 2.0 with social integration. They've got some funding (http://www.centernetworks.com/vc-funding-docstoc-wishpot-kaa...). Been around a few years now.

Here's a competitor: http://www.findgift.com/Services/Gift-Registry/. It was founded in 1997 by a couple from Georgia.

And another: http://myregistry.com. Second spot on Google for "gift registry".

Now check it out:


Good luck!

Thanks :)

I was aware of a lot of that at the beginning and I have no regrets. I would use BabyList for my own registry and for various reasons wouldn't use the others. We'll see how it goes.

Yep. And you know, the guys who found that honeymoon revenue stream, I think, are doing well with it. So congrats on getting an MVP of sorts up and who knows where it will lead!

I had had the same idea when I was pregnant but there were several key problems that I concluded were unsolvable. I am both curious and skeptical as to how/whether you address these. (I am basing my questions on an understanding that yours is a registry and not a simple a wish list, as per your own description).

1. How to mark items as purchased. Relying on gift givers to "reserve" and "unreserve" items may be a step up from restaurant reservations but that's not saying much. I wouldn't be surprised if your honor system led to close to half of every registry ending up in a black hole of forgotten reservations.

2. How to keep up with out-of-stock items and price changes. Baby registries usually span months, so how do you deal with outdated information or dead links? From my own Amazon baby registry experience, about 30% of my wish list went MIA by the time of the actual baby shower, when most of my friends and family made their purchases.

3. How do you deal with bad UIs. Drawing again from my Amazon experience, a lot of older relatives almost bought the wrong item because of all the "you might also like" items all over the screen. I wouldn't be surprised if a large chunk of your purchases got diverted by bad 3rd party UIs.

4. Varied URL standards. For example, some shopping sites get product options from user session so non-logged in URLs link to an item's default color and size. So once you are off to a 3rd party website, there is no guarantee the gift giver would buy the correct item.

As far as I can see you've built a wish list that you are marketing as a registry and I am not sure if that's a good thing. The key feature of a registry is that a retailer makes sure that the correct items get purchased (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_registry) so I think there is a broken promise there.

Obviously you've thought a lot about this. Once I've had users actually use the site as their baby registry (fingers-crossed) I'll see what the actual percentages of the problems you've described are.

1 - when you reserve you enter your name and email address. you then get an email (that i currently don't make you confirm, but could) that says "you have promised to purchase X"

2 - This is an issue with in-store registries as well. I am not currently solving this issue, but it is technically feasible to do so.

3 - I'm depending on the older relatives to give us cash for baby's college fund :) I'm definitely not trying to solve e-commerce for an older generation.

4 - That's a good point. Hopefully this is a small percentage or items/online stores.

Thanks for the feedback.

If the basic description of the item (title, picture, etc) are cached in the application, then 2/3/4 can probably be partly solved by drawing mothers into using the "extra notes" area more. Perhaps by turning it into a conversation, with comments or Facebook integration. Not only will it add context to each item, but everyone who uses it will be more engaged.

Excellent idea and very nice execution! The design is great, plus it's incredibly easy to signup and share your registry. You're definitely on to something here.

In terms of suggestions, I'd suggest you tweak your index page a bit. When I landed there, I was most interested in seeing what one of these registries looked like. I assumed that clicking the image of John and Jane's Baby List would show me an example, but it's not currently linked. To actually find an example, you have to think a bit and either find the text link under your Create button or realize that the Showcase link is what you're looking for.

Also, the Vendors page needs a bit of work. I'm sure that's number 7273 on your priority list, but I don't think it'll be very successful in engaging vendors as is.

Thanks for the concrete feedback. Great, great, great.

I put up the vendors page after I saw a vendor create a list of their products with a description "create your baby registry on this site to register for our store". At least I can contact them once we have something engaging to tell them.

It's a good idea. The idea isn't new but I hope your execution gives it the push it needs to become mainstream.

On a personal note, if this does start to have success, I hope you've got plans in place for someone else to carry the workload once your baby arrives. I'd be putting those plans in place now so someone else is largely running things as you enter the final weeks. It's a cliche to say 'your life will change' - but it will change so much it would be a shame to have a new project die because you can't devote time to it in the first couple of months of your other more important project.

If I were you , I would give the users the option to login using Facebook Connect or Twitter. I think People doesn't like signups anymore; Its another password to remember. Also if they are Signed-in using of one of these sites, its more than likely they share it and spread the word. Nice work by the way.

I'd add Babies R Us and buybuy Baby logos to the site. Granted you say it works for all online retailers, those are 2 huge ones that together prob own a good % of the market.

Really good advice. I think of toys-r-us and babies-r-us as the same but they're not... Thanks.

Yes, Toys-R-Us is owns Babies-R-Us. They turned a local TRU into a BRU about 5 years ago. Same place, new look and new merchandise.

I didn't read through all the posts here on HN to see if this was already report (though I did do a quick search), but there is an issue with the "View By Store".

If I look at the example registry and goto purchased items, there is 1 purchased at "etsy.com". If expand "View By Store" and uncheck "etsy", the item disappears as intended. However, if I uncheck "Amazon" and then recheck "Amazon", new items show up that weren't originally there. I'm assuming they're from the "All Items" list even though I'm still under "Purchased".

As others have said, I'm not in your target market, but I think the site is very well down.

I think there's also a usability issue with this control. I would imagine a common use case is "Show me all the items at Store X, since that's convenient for me to drop by." Unfortunately, instead of selecting Store X, I have to deselect all the other stores. On the demo registry, that's 5 clicks where one should do.

I'm shocked that this hasn't happened yet. Good job, looks great.

I commented above, but the concept definitely has been attempted before, it just hasn't become mainstream.

The real question is why, how could this site execute differently?

Do you offer a simple input field for users, where they can enter a URL?

I think the bookmarklet is a bit high threshold for some (if not most) users. Telling them to copy+paste a website URL and enter it into a field on their control panel is not.

For SEO your site could use a little work. Perhaps a blog about pregnancy could help get your domain ranking for some niche related terms. You are probably aiming for social sharing here, and organic search might be a lesser priority. Make sharing on Facebook and Twitter a lot easier (API helps) and visible (icons help). I might not sign up, but still like or recommend your app.

Also adding just that extra page to convince users to sign up, or a even demo video, can help with user engagement.

Finally I'd have a small look at making your site canonical, by rewrite or specifying canonical: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-y... because /about and /about/ return the same content. And to quote W3C "Always declare the encoding of your document" (declare a meta charset like ISO or UTF-8 in your header http://code.google.com/p/doctype/wiki/ArticleUtf7).

Thanks for the advice. I've thought the same thing about the bookmarklet. I'll probably create chrome and ff plugins before scraping web-pages server-side.

Design is awesome. First impressions last.

Interesting idea. Also like the natural virality of the service.

If the system does not support it already, something worth considering is a function allowing the person making the list to upload a photo of themselves to be displayed on their wish list page.

This will re-assure the "buyers" they are on the correct page, not just some random list of products on the internet :)

You might want to think about a "size" field for clothing, maybe even a drop-down, or allow people to ask for 1 of each size or something. This is a general complaint I have about wishlists. In my fantasy world of wishlists there would be a number field for each size so you could ask for 1 nb and 1 6mo or something.

Question (and I apologize if I missed it): How do you track purchases across multiple stores to show registrant purchasers' purchases? (say that 3x fast).

I can see how it would be done with exact matches, but a lot of stores don't carry the exact same items, in order to remove price competition. The items may look and function the same, and be under the same brand, but they will be distinct models.

If I list a 4 slot, extra-wide, chrome toaster on a registry under one model number from Target, how could I know if I should buy a toaster matching that description at WalMart without scanning the list of purchased items? The model of one store offers the convenience of being absolutely sure there aren't any duplicate purchases since once an item is purchase, it is removed.

I just realized a toaster is a bad example for a baby registry, but you get my point.

Yeah, it doesn't support that.

I think the next step would be that when you add a product to the registry there's a checkbox like "let people buy this from other stores" which is default checked on amazon/babys-r-us and default unchecked on etsy.com. Then in the registry display you would see multiple offers for one product. Then there would still be the challenge you describe but it wouldn't be a UI problem, it would be a data challenge.

Definitely a data matching challenge, and especially one stores wouldn't want you to solve :)

Our site, which was on HN a few days back actually does the price comparison shopping, as well as integrating with traditional registries. There was a lot that went in under the cover of how to import and push a registry to a traditional registry, but allows us a complete solution of showing guests the best price. (http://www.registrystop.com) We're more targeted towards wedding, but would love to do the same for baby registries.

Beautiful design. Functions well,

As mentioned a few times here, the bookmarklet is a big barrier to entry. I think a walkthrough video would help that substantially. I can't imagine a regular person understanding they can just browse around the web shopping and your site can pick it up. Browser plugins are also a big entry barrier to people who aren't very savvy.

I wonder if you linked out to sites like amazon in a frame where you persisted a top bar around those sites as the user browsed. Might be janky though. *edit: just noticed amazon throws a JS error when framed. damnit.

Another thought is perhaps you cobble some api+scraping stuff together and provide the user a simple search+add to registry function inside your site.

So is your business model based on affiliate programs for all those retailers? How are you tracking whether or not something was purchased?

Great job! Site review :- * Clean and neat! * Easy to get started <1min to create account to a baby registry.

Feature request :- * Would love more info about the item in line. * Who is buying what (if it is socially acceptable!) as I might team up with a friend but not with a stranger. * Baby journals et. al.

Other helpful info for you:- * Did you knew about http://www.thebump.com ? * Thebump has reading info + baby name help + videos + registry.

A question to you:- Now that you know about a site which has already solved same problem as you, would you still pursue this idea? If yes then what will be the thought process?

With every idea I start hacking with I tend to over research and find a solution and then steam goes off! I want other people's experience with this phenomenon who tend to overcome this.

I just had a baby myself (2 months ago) and would have LOVED this service during my pregnancy. I too tried using Amazon, but it sucked. So, I ended up going with Babies R Us, wasn't pleased with their service at all.

Blogher would be a great source for you to find testers and get solid feedback from a group of mommies and mommies to be :). Also, one thing that I liked about Amazon and Babies R US however, is they had list recommendations. It may be a good idea for you to add some cool lists to you site such as "Top 10 Must Haves for Green Moms" or somethng like that. I was clueless when registering and appreciated the guidance of the lists.

I'll be sure to promote it here in Tokyo to the American moms! Good luck with your pregnancy!

Your site never explains what a baby registry is. The example registry doesn’t really help, nor does your About page. There is no Wikipedia article for “baby registry”, and Google searching “what is a baby registry” doesn’t produce anything helpful. I gather that it’s a wishlist of some kind, but that doesn’t explain why one would want to have one, and why it’s called a “registry” instead of a wishlist.

I’m definitely not in the audience for this site, so maybe all parents-to-be learn what a baby registry is from their friends or something, but it would be nice if you explained to random internet surfers what the site is for. Just a sentence would suffice.

Are you American? There may be a cultural gap somewhere.

When women (or couples) are having a baby, they have a baby shower. This is a get together to celebrate and typically the party-goers bring a gift for the parents-to-be and their baby. Sometimes clothes or a stroller or diapers or other baby related items.

It is similar to when someone gets married and they create a wedding registry of household items they would like as gifts.

Yes, there was a cultural gap. Thanks for explaining it to me. I knew there was such a thing as a baby shower, but I didn’t know that it was customary to create a wish-list for them, or for weddings.

Usually, in the about, I find "we" to be better than "I". I did that, I did this, I'm the founder, I'm the developer, I contacted xyz, I hope you like it..

"We" would sound more professional.. Just to be clear, I'm not saying you should remove that friendly tone which I find great, especially for that kind of website. However, I'm not sure if it is worth it to put so much emphasis on you as you are not the goal of the website..

We were looking for "bleh". Thanks to xyz designer who join our team and help us create this [etc.].

My 5 cents, good luck :)

(I know it's kind of ironic that I suggest being more professional when I can hardly speak English correctly, but anyway..)

I disagree with this. It always makes me a feel little duped when a one-person operation uses "we".

I definitely appreciate the "I". It lets you connect with the person behind the operation

I hacked together a quick and dirty wedding registry when we got married. We didn't want to favor any retail store or vendor over another. Almost nobody used it. :( I think people are used to going to stores and using their registry programs, especially since stores with registries will often give you a list and/or give the registrant a scanner to go through and scan all the items he/she wants to add.

My experience was that it doesn't work out very well, but your thing is definitely more polished than mine, and maybe with the right promotion you can make it click. :)

It looks great, particularly when compared to MyRegistry.com. Is there a way to pull in existing registries from Target and Babies R Us? That seems to be where most pregnant ladies start, and then end up desiring more from other non-registry sites.

If I put babyli.st on my shower invite, I imagine having some extremely confused Aunts and Grandmothers... but if I can say "Babyli.st, Target and Babies R Us" that would be more generation friendly. They can go to Target, and it updates on Babyli.st for my savvy friends.

My husband and I loved Myregistry.com. It easily allowed us to add items from stores like Target and Babies R Us and keep them organized online.

Auto-register people. Circle back with people after 6 months and find out how they would have registered differently. Develop some profiles, identify the popular products, and you can allow expecting mothers to auto-register with the recommended items.

And buy yourself some kid-o-potamus swaddles. We never would have picked that out but someone gave us one and that was a life saver the first 6 weeks or so. Never would have though being all straight jacketed was the preferred way for babies to sleep...

Swaddling is fantastic. I just used an oversized sheet after I got the hang of it.

Get a toy doll and practice. Took me a couple hours to get the hang of it.

Thanks for both pieces of advice. :)

Great execution and slick-looking site. Referral programs make this an easy product to monetize.

On the marketing front, one way to pitch it is that a decentralized registry makes life easier for your friends, too. I am so sick of having to pay top dollar for gifts just to get them off of a registry, when better deals can be had elsewhere for the same products. How many extra dollars have gone to Bed, Bath & Beyond instead of Amazon simply for that reason?

Excellent site, very nicely designed.

On the privacy policy, the principles you state are excellent. It would also help to be a little more concrete, for example under what circumstances (if any) will you share information with partners and advertisers?

I love the idea of creating connections between vendors. Is there anything more community-oriented than a mailing list? A LinkedIn or Facebook group for example if most of the vendors hang out one place or another.

I'm sorry I don't have time to go through your app more, but here some things that occurred to me (I have 17 month old and 3 yr old, so just out of your target):

1) Try to collect data and offer up suggestions 2) Try to get a good Facebook presence. (etsy.com). Your target market lives on Facebook now. 3) Can you email your registry?

Gotta go. Good luck

This is a great idea, and looks very nice! Several of my friends are pregnant right now, and they are all registered at multiple places. This would be very convenient.

If I'm buying a gift for a friend, do I need to know their mailing address in order to have it shipped to them? It would be amazing if this took care of that for me.

They can add their address to their babylist. The list itself has no privacy controls so I'm not sure if people will enter it. And there's no integration b/t the address they entered on the site and online stores.

Isn't the URL unnecessarily complicated? You can't say "check out babylist.com" you have to say "check out babylist with a dot between the i and the s" or "it's not a dot com it's a dot st so check out babyli dot st".

It just seems to be more difficult than necessary to verbally communicate how to reach the site.

As everyone else has said, it's a really nice looking site and a great idea.

How stable are the product links you use? Do you do any type of periodic validation?

If I click on a link to view a product, it might be nice to open that window inside a frame (or modern equivalent) with a babyli.st "reserve" button at the top.

>> How stable are the product links you use? Do you do any type of periodic validation?

Right now no.

>> If I click on a link to view a product, it might be nice to open that window inside a frame (or modern equivalent) with a babyli.st "reserve" button at the top.

Great idea!

A useful feature might be to clean well known site URLs (like amazon/dp/<prod id>). I'm paranoid about sites leaking information.

You might want more instruction on how bookmarklets work. Most people have no idea WTF a bookmarklet is.

This is the #1 thing on the TODO. So far all sign-ups (which are not many) have successfully added products, which has surprised me.

But less surprising given that a lot of your traffic is from HN :)

pre-HN :) (which was a small number)

Great design - looks really good at first impression. One thing I would suggest is an About page. Something explaining your frustrations and why you created the company. I think the fact that you were pregnant at the time puts a really personal touch to other pregnant women.

oh, nevermind, I didn't see the about page in my first look. Disregard my comment :) Love the site!

One thought I have is when clicking to create a list you ask me to sign up... I haven't used your product yet and am not sure if I want to sign up yet. Is there anyway you could allow people to create the list first and thus be committed and then get their email?

Idea: to differentiate your list from Amazon's universal wish list and others, make your list prettier and more memorable than theirs. Decorate the list, offer several themes to chose from, allow users to upload photos of themselves and to add some text...

Great site. What are some of the libraries you're using for this site besides using Ruby on Rails? It would be great if you can share on a broad level. I'm always intrigued by the speed of development with other solutions than using .net.

Your web site looks amazing! The colors go well and the storks in the footer is a perfect addition to the design.

As far as usability goes, the home page is very easy to understand, and you'll definitely get a high conversion rate because of this.

Minor CSS/HTML quibble - on the example list when you switch between "Show unpurchased items" and "Show purchased items" views the browser scrollbar makes the main content jump. Minor issue - otherwise I love the look and feel.

That's a JS bug. Thanks for finding it.

Great idea. Great looking site.

UI thought: list of items in the showcase section has a lot of white space. While this is a good practice, you may want to allow more than 4 items per screen by reducing top & bottom white space for each item.

Looks great. One point of feedback: when I first looked at the logo, I didn't know what it was. I had to sit and think about if for a bit. Granted I'm not your target market (male, mid 20s, married but no kids).

LOLs for using "Sophie" as demonstration. We don't have one yet, but I was told a friend already bought one for us, as it has been a favorite toy for decades. Apparently if you have kids, you also have Sophie.

I'm getting an error when I try to edit an item on my list: "We're sorry, but something went wrong. We've been notified about this issue and we'll take a look at it shortly."

But it's inconsistent; I can edit other items.

Thanks for letting me know. I see the error in the logs and I'll be able to fix the root cause.

Market the crap out of this. This is a great idea, and you can easily extend it to weddings, etc.

You need to get those stores on board in some way as well... big risk if they decide that you aren't "needed".

Well done!

Not sure how much time you expect to be able to spend on this once your baby is due. Probably 0 hours for the next few years! Congratulations though. Also the site looks very nice.

Great looking site and definitely fills a void for new or expecting parents. My wife definitely would have used this when she was pregnant last year.

Congrats on your forthcoming arrival!

Looks great!

One quick note would be that the logo is linking to babyli.st/index when it could really just link to babyli.st. That way I don't have to click the Back button twice. :)

That makes sense. It does that because if you're logged in and have a baby registry i just redirect you there. By clicking the logo you can get to the landing page.

This reminds me a lot of www.isbornyet.com

Similar idea, but with the variant of your own domain and the ability to announce to friends etc, when your baby is born.

Wow, yea it does. Although I will say that this site has a much better gift registry. Is Born Yet has a much better notification system / baby integration. You and those guys should team up and make an awesome baby site!

Fantastic! My wife and I just found out we're expecting and I sent this to her immediately. It looks great, I can't wait to try it out!

Natalie, love the site - it's one of those ideas I wish I would've done! Wish this was around when my wife was pregnant.

Keep an an eye on the domain, all too often people type 'bitly . com' when I say 'bit . ly' - do you have babylist.com?

I know. I contacted the owner of babylist.com (it's a mirror of babylist.co.uk) and they never got back to me.

once all the referral cash starts flowing you can just buy it :)

In the mean time work out a way to ensure as few people as possible have to verbally pass the domain on, think about tools which enable you to let the interested party notify their friends that this is their list; easy things like publishing to facebook, twitter, email, etc.

(some of these may have been done, sorry if they are - I didn't take the time to look it over to thoroughly).

>once all the referral cash starts flowing you can just buy it :)

Looking at the company I think you might have to pay a hefty whack to get that domain.

I'm going to guess that they didn't have anyone there who knew what to do with your request, was it a money offer. I think I'd make a modest money offer (no more than a couple of hundred GBP) - people generally know what to do with an offer of money.

Make it very clear that you want to buy babylist.com name only, that you're not competing directly with them and are based in the US.

I don't think you want a huge offer as this will ring a bell saying "ooh, I better check with someone if I can get more ...".

YMMV considerably, grace and peace.

You might want to consider allowing mothers to select items from a basic list for first time mothers.

Awesome design. I have not heard about forrst. Will try to find someone for my projects.

Cool project but your 'works with' icons are all in a big bunch here on Chrome. :-)

Could you send me more details about your system? I don't see any issue with the works with icons on my Chrome. (natalie@babyli.st)

Where are you hosted? Development environment? And other similar details?

Hosted at slicehost. It's Ruby on Rails with Passenger. Product images are stored in S3.

Nice - you should create a similar site for weddings at weddingli.st :D

What rev share percentage is reasonable for an arrangement like this?

nice job - will love to use this soon!

1. Keep it simple. Do not add features like people ask!

2. Your domain name sucks. Look for something better. This is impossible to recall.

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