The following are my tips for creating a website that will actually work for you. Think of your website as a relatively important employee (like a sales person). You need to spend some money, get them trained and keep them engaged. Your website is no different – and will likely be cheaper and more productive.
Tips For Startup Websites That Work
1. What will you do for me? What does the product do? Why should I care? Answering this is much more important than sharing with me your philosophy of the world and how you’re all about “connecting individuals on the Internet through an intelligent and collaborative engine that is scalable, AJAX-powered and cool”. Honestly, I don’t care. Tell me how my life is going to be at least marginally better if I use your product.
Example: Our MailMinder product will make sure that you don’t forget to respond to important messages that you receive in Outlook. Just press a single key (1-9) and MailMinder will automatically remind you if you haven’t responded to that message within the specified number of days. So, if you press “2” on a message and haven’t replied to it in a couple of days, you’ll get a friendly reminder. (Note: This is a completely made up product idea and any resemblance to an actual product, living or dead, is purely coincidental).
2. Who is it for? This one is subtle. A great way to really grab my attention is to tell me who you’ve built the product for. The reason so many companies don’t disclose this is because they think they’re going to “lose opportunities” by being too narrow in describing their ideal customers. Its simply not true. Do your potential customers and yourselves a favor and be focused in your message and offering – ultimately, the right kinds of people will wind up at your site and your sales will go up not down.
Example: Our software is specially built for technical book authors that would like to start a blog as an online extension to their book and build a community for their readers.
3. How does it work? Here, a picture (or a short video) is worth a thousand words. In a minute or less, give me a general sense of how the product works. Examples could include screenshots, video captures, or sample results produced.
4. Why your product and not something else? Chances are, I didn’t happen upon your site randomly. I was probably looking for something or was led to your site from somewhere else. And, despite how unique you think you might be, chances are that I’ve already considered other alternatives (and may even have tried a few). Tell me what makes your product different. You can be even more clever if you know what other products I’m likely to have tried that are similar to yours.
Example: Tired of the limitations of XYZPro? So were we. So we did it better. Hundreds of XYZPro customers have already switched. Here’s why…
5. What does it cost? Throw out complicated pricing formulas and don’t believe the marketing professionals that tell you that you should sell a customer on your “value proposition” before telling them what it costs. In today’s world, with so many options, if I can’t figure out what your price is in the first 5 minutes, I’m probably gone. Don’t make me email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a “price quote that is tailored for my needs”. Worse, don’t make me contact my regional sales rep. (In fact, if you have regional sales reps, you’re probably reading the wrong blog – its meant for startups).