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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
After months of hard work we launched our service (http://patternry.com/) in the beginning of August. We have two different offerings on our site: A free Web design pattern library, and a tool people and companies can use to build and share their own design pattern libraries in a secure environment.
The free Web design pattern library has been around for a year and attracts a few tens of thousands of visits a month. The problem is that we are not converting these visitors to paying customers for our Pattern Library Builder -tool. We believe the problem is that we are not able to clearly communicate what the library tool is and why to use it.
We are currently building a tour page in order to make our message more clear. Visiting our site, what questions would you like to be answered on the tour page or on the front page?
Do you see an internal design pattern library beneficial for your company?
I’d appreciate all your feedback and suggestions.
Monday, September 19, 2011
My immediate reaction to your website is that it is for organizations with multiple web designers and the tool is somewhat analogous to a version control tool, but for web design elements. If that is the case, I would more tightly focus your wording to that audience. You might need to educate your audience regarding why they need this tool -don't assume they will automatically perceive the benefit.
The main deficiency I see in your web site is the lack of a demonstration or examples that shows how the "Pattern Library Builder" actually works and how it is used.
You offer a free single user personal account. But I suspect that many users will not be willing to commit any time to this without seeing exactly how the service works. (You did not mention if you had significant registration activity for the personal account.)
What I suggest that you need is one or more of the following:
1) a "sandbox" Pattern Library Builder that allows an anonymous user to enter and view the working environment, and make temporary changes or edits, without registering an account.
2) A guided online demo of the Pattern Library Builder.
3) A slide show of screen shots of the pattern library builder in progress. Forgive me if you have this and I overlooked it - at first glance I did not see anything like it.
Your copy is excellent - I don't have anything to sell you. :)
I do see some opportunity for confusion of your "design pattern" verbiage with software engineering design patterns. But you say that you have excellent uptake on your open library of design patterns, so I guess it is really not a problem.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
"The free Web design pattern library has been around for a year and attracts a few tens of thousands of visits a month."
Isn't that the problem? If you give away the farm for free it is hard to upsell anyone.
I get what you are trying to achieve, but I wonder if the free stuff is sufficient and the barrier to entry to create private content is just too big to be worthwhile. It may not be, of course, but perhaps that is the impression people have.
Maybe it'd be worth asking your visitors, perhaps with a short survey (no more than five minutes).
Thanks for all the comments!
Don, I believe you are right about us not demonstrating well enough how the "Pattern Library Builder" works. We are currently working on a tour page to give visitors a easy and quick look what the Pattern Library Builder is all about.
The other problem might be that it is not easy enough to sign up for the free personal plan and to start using it. About 2% of the new visitors coming to the site end up signing up. I guess this is quite low, so what number should we aim for?
One problem we are going to look on is how to help new users get started with their personal library. Currently we try to instruct a lot with our "blank slates", but they might be too text heavy. One improvement would be to make this blank slates more visual and easier to understand.
Any additional comments appreciated!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Here's a broad thought: I'm wondering if "design pattern library" is the right term to use. Wikipedia defines design pattern as a "general reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem", where the key is on "general".
To me coming to your site, your free library covers the need for that. I'm trying to figure out a way to do X, how have others done it? I don't get the reason for why I should store my own patterns? Unless you're someone like Kai Krause and in the business of innovating new UI, you will generally want to use the general pattern others are using around the world, not just within your company.
So, perhaps what you should be selling is an online style guide. "This is how we do an 'Input Prompt' at our company, follow it. " It's not a general solution, it's a specific way to implement it, code, colors, etc.
I haven't dug into your offering so I don't know if this is just copy change or deeper than that. But even if that's not the route you're looking for, there's nothing on your site that tells me why I need the paid model over the free model.
>> To me coming to your site, your free library covers the need for that. I'm trying to figure out a way to do X, how have others done it? I don't get the reason for why I should store my own patterns?
I agree that your web site does not make this transition between the free/open source UI design pattern library, and the Pattern Library Builder, very clear.
I see two separate markets for each of these things. The free design pattern library is useful as a set of suggestions on best practices as used in real life, and is probably referenced by web and UI developers as they research possible UI techniques. The library builder is for communicating standard UI practices within a team environment, and is really for experienced designers to use as a tool.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Thank you for the very well thought out comments!
Jarret, very interesting idea that we should be selling something else than a design Pattern Library Builder. I believe this would be only a matter of positioning our service differently and we will consider this if we can’t make our message/offering clear enough being a design Pattern Library Builder.
The difference between the free Personal workspace and the paid Shared workspace is that the free is only for one person as the Shared is intended for companies and other organizations. With the free workspace users can try Patternry and build a pattern library for them selves as a hobby. The Shared workspace allows multiple users to share and contribute on a pattern library.
We built the free / open source pattern library for three different purposes:
1. To promote the use of design patterns
2. To get traffic on our site. We also believe that those who are interested in the free pattern library might also be interested in building one for they company.
3. To give the users of Pattern Library Builder some material they can easily adopt to their own use.
We are soon ready to publish our Tour page, so it will be interesting to see what kind of effect that will have.
Any other great comments?
Monday, September 26, 2011
Johannes I think that what your site lacks is story telling. You need to do more than just sell a product, you need to sell a story. There was a man in NY who bought a home on Park Avenue  by standing on the corner of the street. He was a hustler who realized the magic of selling stories instead of potato peelers. I really recommend watching this video  of him doing what he does best.
When I visit your site tell me a story. Don't tell me how you store patterns, tell me how I can quickly put together my companies signature UX in quarter the time before that deadline. Tell me how it will save the sweat from my brow, and change my world. Tell me what it is and just how amazing it is.
If you tell me this in just the right way (authentic and enthusiastic) then you might have just found a convert. ;-)
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