* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

I re-launched, please provide feedback (again)

Okay gang... I've relaunched coalde.com with a new template!  Check it out and let me know what you think.  I think you'll agree it's a VAST improvement on the old one where you all tore me a new one.  :)

The landing page is now the "About/Contact" page, where I give my "mission statement for good apps" and have a nice pic of where I live for that personal touch with potential customers.  Maybe lame, but it's my personality and style so it's staying.

For Scott, I have my ABN and PO Box listed now, so he can hunt me down and kill me if my app deletes his C: drive.

I've gotten rid of the buckets of text and just made a few introductory comments for both apps, followed by bullet points of benefits as suggested.

Only one download button now for each app, to avoid confusion for the buyers, and it doesn't say "Free Download" followed by a "Buy" button that was contradictory.  :)

Still only screenshots for both apps now, but the zoom in nicely and it's (hopefully) easy to see what each app does.  BTW, the folder app is now 100% free to use forever; I didn't really feel comfortable charging for it, and it gives me a non-spamming way to mention it on forums in the hopes that visitors will see the other app and buy it.  ;)

So, what are your thoughts this time round?
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
One thing I would change is the note about telephone spammers is very negative.

How about this instead:

Telephone: [Click here to request a callback]

Link to a form (or have a pop-up form in the whitespace) to collect name, number and time preference.

Also, how do you pronounce "coalde"? Just curious, as it in't a combination I'm familiar with.
Scorpio Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Changed the telephone link at your advice.  I think it looks better now, too.  I didn't do a form as I don't know how.  An email link will have to suffice for now.

"Coalde" is pronounced "coe-al-dee", just three separate syllables.  Maybe I should mention it on the landing page?
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Well, Harry, I didn't see the previous template but you need to change this one as well. Sorry, but it looks like from old 90s and it's too dark. Make it simple white design centered with fixed width. Something like panic has: panic.com/unison

Add a strapline to your AppNote, since I had to make myself to read those 2 paragraphs of description just to get what benefit I'll have. Give a hint like you did in first feature: "Makes learning a new app easy", or something more detailed.
Hesitating... Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Damn, I can't win with the site design.  :(  Well I'm not going to go change it all again.  The hell with it.
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
I'll do the strapline thing later, but I can't be bothered using yet another website template.  I'm too exhausted to care right now.  Thanks for your honesty.  :)
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
I agree that the design looks really dated. An easy option would be to go with twitter bootstrap and a theme (https://wrapbootstrap.com/) or get something from http://themeforest.net/.

The biggest issue I have, though, is that the home page is really an about page. The home page should be pitching the product(s). You should have separate pages for about and support / contact.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
If you try to look at the home page as a customer would, you will have the following reaction: so WHAT? So your nighttime city view is pretty. What does that do for me?

It's not that it's badly designed. The home page here is simply misconceived. It communicates nothing of interest to anyone who may stumble on your site. As already said by others, it's an about page.

You need to have your two products profiled on the home page. Your company "about" information is subordinate to what you're selling. Even if you feel you need to include this info on the home page, the stuff that a customer needs can be effectively crammed into a small sidebar or boxed area.

About your about:

"We're a software company located on the Gold Coast, Australia. Our PC products provide real solutions to everyday problems with complete respect for your computer. We consider our apps to be guests on your PC, and we recognize that it's a privilege for us to be there. It also means our apps are small, portable, don't modify your system, and fully standalone as they don't require VB or .NET to be installed."

Blah, blah, blah.  Only a techie will care about this crap. You can distill ALL of this down to a short line like: "We provide useful computer software that is small, fast and non-intrusive." That's it. Maybe even that's too much.

You really need a short!!!! company bio to instill some trust. Bio: who you are, where you're based, why you make software, and your professional background in a nutshell. Maybe a LinkedIn link to the principals.
WannabeTycoon Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
1. As others said, spend few bucks on a decent template (after 2 minutes of searching: http://wrapbootstrap.com/preview/WB0C6D0H4 or http://wrapbootstrap.com/preview/WB0D95984 would be infinitely better than what you have now).

2. Avoid dark/gloomy designs. Bright and happy is the way to go.

3. Questionable font choice. It looks bold on my mac. Even default browser font would be better.

4. Bad copy. +1 to WannabeTycoon: cut the "me" blah. People couldn't care less about your company, where are you located etc. They want to solve problems and spend as little time as possible doing that. You force them to read some long (in the context of the web) text.

Look at landing page for my software: http://blog.kowalczyk.info/software/sumatrapdf/free-pdf-reader.html.

In 3 sentences I describe what the program is and what are the features that I think are important. I have much more information elsewhere, but landing page is not a place to dump all that info.

In short: on landing page, the most important information, succinctly.

5. Don't put your contact info on the main page. Do what everyone else does: move it to a separate "about" or "contact" page.

If you ask me, inviting people to request to have you call them is unnecessary. If they have a brain, they will figure out that they can ask for phone support in an e-mail.

6. You main page should be about your products. Give half of space to one product, half to the other, link those to landing pages for each product. All the other info should be link via unobtrusive links.

7. "No risks:" etc. - I wouldn't phrase it. You think you're making people more likely to download. I think you're bringing their attention to the fact that software in general is dangerous and making them less likely to download (after all, all you offer in the form of trust is your word).

Also, while I myself make a portable software so I know what you meant, 99% of people don't.

8. " AUD $19.95 for v1.01 only". What does "for v1.01 only" mean? What are the alternatives?

Re-read all your copy with an eye towards: is it crystal clear or is there possibility for confusion.

9. "Windows XP or later ". This piece of information doesn't deserve the premium space you give it.

10. "Email us to receive our fast and friendly help."

"E-mail us for support" is enough. I wouldn't over-sell. If a person doesn't think he got a response fast enough or if it wasn't friendly enough, then he will be more disappointed because of your promise.

11. I understand the logic behind upgrades, but your program seems so simple, that paying for upgrade to 1.01 (from 1.0?) seems outrageous.

And you're probably doing it for little monetary gain. How many pre-1.01 customers do you have? If it's a 1000, then your max earning would be $5000 which is nothing, in the big picture. Wait until you have tens of thousands of customers and charge for significant upgrades (1.0 => 2.0).
Krzysztof Kowalczyk Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
I personally like the about copy.

The design minimally needs some margin tweaking like on the right side to balance the left nav bar. Align things up, just tweak it to make it look better.

The template does seem to be from the late 1990s, as opposed to the earlier one that was from the early 1990s. It's really not bad for late 1990s.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Thanks everyone.

Now, the problem is, everything I've done on my site is due to direct recommendations from people in these very forums.  That's why I'm so confused by all this feedback.

People tell me "don't talk about your company or where it's located", yet other posts here say to do that.

People say "so what about the city photo", but other posts say it's good to personalise your site to "engage" and "get a rapport" with potential customers.

People say there's STILL too much text.  I can't win there... I've checked Krzysztof's landing page and his has just as much as mine, and other sites from people here have way more, too.  Cutting it down to one sentence (as most seem to imply) seems silly to me.  As a customer, I *like* to read all about a product before downloading.  Information is good.

People say "so what" about "Windows XP or later" -- are you seriously saying that I shouldn't state which OS my apps are for?

It's hard to get it all right when the recommendations are so contradictory.  Maybe you're all right, though.  Who knows.  Maybe I should go with my gut.  Not sure.  I want to, but I also respect and trust what you're telling me.  You're giving me more sleepless nights now, but that's all part of the job of being in the BoS.  :)  I know that one day, I'll make it.  And I'll read this thread with a little smile on my face.
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
On the XP thing, I definitely think OS compatibility should be listed, you are making the right choice there.

I don't have issue with your current copy. I think tweaks to the design would help. Better would be a pro design, but I think this one is salvageable.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
On text length, there was a surprising study that showed a straight positive correlation between ad copy length and conversion rates. It was surprising because at the time there was a controversy over those long copy ads that just went on and on forever. It seems though that a lot of people, if interested, they'll keep reading, and the more they read the more they like.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Personally I think it's a variation of direct sales such as cars - if you can talk to the customer long enough they will probably buy the product.




If I remember right, when this came up about 10 years ago here, there was a discussion whether long copy was maybe not the best for no-nonsense people who know what features they want and are technically minded. So if selling a pro quality drill, you don't want a 30 page long ad like you would for some fad diet.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013

Your site looks good, but there are definitely areas that could be improved.  Specifically:

Since you have two products, and one if them is free, I would make the product page for AppNote (the non-free app) the home page. When someone visits your web site, your home page should make them want one of your products.  See apple.com for a perfect example of this.  The about/contact page is ok, but it should not be the focus of the site. As a customer, I care most about your products. De-emphasize the "about" page and the privacy policy. Also, I would de-emphasize the free product.  As it stands now, your home page says, "hey, look at me, I have an office with a great view in Australia. Oh, and I have apps that do things with notes and folders. And I have a privacy policy.".  To be clear, you *should* have an about/contact page. It just shouldn't be the home page of the site.

* The web site design looks good if I have my page open the full width of my 15" display. But, frankly, it looks terrible if I reduce the width of the window.  Some changes to the way text in lists wraps would go a long way to improving this.

* You really, really, really should not charge for a "1.01" upgrade. If there are huge improvements, call it "2.0". It is generally understood that "1.1" and "1.0.1" updates are free and "2.0" upgrades might not be. And if I'm an owner of an older version, it should be made clear to me what is improved in the newer version. I don't see anywhere that tries to sell me on the upgrade. My strong suspicion is that the upgrades aren't significant enough to warrant a paid upgrade, and that your existing customer base isn't large enough to justify the effort to get that upgrade money anyway.

* I would de-emphasize the "callback" policy. Just list the email addresses for support, sales, and information. If someone asks you for a phone call or if an issue warrants it, arrange it. But you are going out of your way to point out that you don't allow people to call you.

Good luck.

John Brayton Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I've done some minor tweaking and re-wording, and changed the landing page from "About" to "Welcome" instead, with less technical talk in the first paragraph.  I don't have an official "About" or "Contact" page now as a result, but the landing page can still deal with that.  I don't give a damn; it's fine to me as a viewing customer.

Regarding the "dated look" and color scheme, font, etc... I like the look, so I've decided to keep it.  It's just a means to an end and feedback from friends and family say it looks fine.  Yes, they may be humoring me but I doubt it.  I've seen worse software websites out there with worse color schemes.

As for the font looking bold on a Mac... that's weird.  It's non-bold here on Windows under IE, FF, Chrome and Opera.  It's fine on my iPhone.  It's staying unchanged as a result.  It's not software for Macs anyway.

One thing this thread has taught me is that no matter what you do, or what advice you ask for, everyone else is going to tell you it's "wrong".  You can keep tweaking and changing templates forever, but you'll never please everyone here and so there has to be a point where you just stop and let it be.  I've reached that point.  :)
Harry Phace Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Well you know, one of the advantages of using a really dated looking design scheme is it projects the idea that:

1. You've been in business a long long time, at least 20 years.
2. Despite the design, you're still profitable and doing business, so you must have a useful product then.
Scott Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
The thing is, it's only "dated" to your eyes, and other people's eyes here.  That's because you're in the industry and used to it, and know the look from 20 years ago.

But when I showed the site to my father, my sister, her friends, some work colleagues... most of them are non-techy and use Facebook all day.  They think the site looks fantastic.  Again, they may be humoring me, or they simply don't know it looks "old".  How do know which it is?  We don't.  I've asked them to be brutally honest about its look, and to tell me if they don't like it.  They still insist it's great.

So, what to do?  Believe Joe Average like them, or the webmasters and coders here who have their own ideas of what's great and modern?  How does one choose who's "correct", or is beauty in the eye of the beholder?
Harry Phace Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Re conflicting opinions and recommendations on this and other forums:

What works well for some other company/product/target audience/etc. may not work at all for yours, or even do harm.


When in doubt, A/B test it. Just make sure to do that right. If you have no background in statistics, I recall seeing an article or two covering the common pitfalls, but do not seem to have bookmarked them. Sorry.
Dmitry Leskov @Home Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
FWIW, extremely hard to get statistically significant results from A/B site testing when you are just starting out.

Let's say he sells 10 copies a month right now and has 6000 visitors. Design A converted 8 of them. Significant?
Scott Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Interesting take on the dated look.  That might work for some users, depending on what the application was.  If it is a kind of utility (as this one sort of is), then maybe that's fine.  If it is a more comprehensive application, probably old suggests a clunky UI and not incorporating whatever cultural progress "personal computing" has made in 20 years.  (How's that for a 1983 era term?).
Racky Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
"One thing this thread has taught me is that no matter what you do, or what advice you ask for, everyone else is going to tell you it's "wrong".  "

Harry, I still believe that larding up your home page with not-well-constructed "corporate identity" crap is a bad path to follow.

Here's the thing: right now you have no mindshare or recognition among customers.  "Who the freaking hell is coalde?" Is what your purchasers will say if they land on your site looking for support.

I have purchased and currently use "micro ISV" products like these:

http://scootersoftware.com/ (Beyond Compare)

http://www.ultraedit.com/ (well, Ultra Edit, or IDM Computer Solutions)

These places are well-known and successful. In particular, they *still* feature their product on their home page, and they don't try to create some inept verbal image of their business that masks their products. They both tell you right on their home page that they are the home of these respective products.

I have to undergo mental effort to remember that IDM is UltraEdit or that Scooter Software is Beyond Compare.

So, this may be a point that you believe has been put to bed in this thread, but most successful ISVs are all about the product, right from the home page.
WannabeTycoon Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Okay... sigh... I will redo the whole thing again for next weekend.  Maybe third time's a charm.
Harry Phace Send private email
Sunday, February 17, 2013
@Scott: 6000 visitors is more than enough to A/B test visit-to-download.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2013
@Harry - Don't get too disheartened, every time you fix a real marketing issue you're increasing your sales.

I *wish* someone could tell me about a few issues which, if fixed, could lead to a healthy sales increase.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2013
Harry, I wouldn't get to upset about the feedback. When asking any group of people you will get lots of contradictory feedback. Just look for commonality and common sense.

I don't think there's anything wrong with your About (now Welcome) page in itself. But it does feel weird being the home page. I keep looking to go 'back' to the beginning only to realize I am there. I as well think with it first it feels like you're promoting the company and saying 'oh by the way, we have two apps too'.

Also be careful about relying on family and friends for critiques. I have found that even if they are trying to be critical they see the site as the you and instead of seeing it separate and objectively. For example a few years ago I had a site I asked friends to take a look at and give me feedback. Basically they read the site as me speaking to them so things that should have been correct in the copy and flow of the site got missed unintentionally. People who I didn't tell I had involvement with the site were more critical and helpful.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2013
Thanks for the further encouragement.

I've seen another website where the apps are the main focus and I'm pretty much going to "borrow" their general design... not "steal" as I will be writing the HTML from scratch to look similar to their site.  I wouldn't be so lame as to just rip their HTML/CSS code.  I just like the look of it and will do a similar thing.  Hopefully up by this weekend.

I've got two more apps in the making too, so I kind of want to finish those, too, before the launch.  Notepad apps are a dime a dozen, and although mine is definitely unique in that it creates note specifically for the running app (so the user doesn't have to think about saving notes or where to find them), it's nothing really that anyone can store in an existing notepad app.  My biggest criticism was from a family member who said "who cares, I'd just keep using Outlook to store my notes".  Grrr.

I'll get there one day!  That's one thing I *do* know.

BTW, I got my first "bug report" today for UpFolder; the person showed me a screenshot that the Vipre antivirus app said it was infected.  Not true, of course, but now I wish I'd left those virus scan reports on my page to prove him wrong.  I may just bring them back because of this.
Harry Phace Send private email
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz