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!
Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
Okay, as promised, I took all your comments into consideration and totally re-did my website yet again. Seriously, this time I'm not changing it anymore. It's too much work! :) Surely you'll agree it's better than the old 90s-style dark pages of before? The address is coalde dot com.
No doubt this is not what you want to hear, but the site still looks dated.
There's a site I quite like, built by one of the guys who hangs out here. Check it out: http://www.collabable.com/
I'm not saying it is perfect, but if you put the two side by side, I think you'll see the difference. You have too many fonts, styles & colours and the text is very small.
Sorry to be negative, but I'm trying to be honest in the hope that it can help you move in the right direction.
You might also want to look at this to get some inspiration: http://www.google.com/search?q=free+website+templates
Well, in my opinion, looking at www.collabable.com all I see is masses of text and scrolling and babble all right. The logo is confusing (looks like a "Q" instead of "C") and I'm not even sure what the site is for. I'm not just saying that due to sour grapes, but I hardly think it's an example of a "better" website.
I think what I said before is true: no matter what I do, people are going to keep saying it's no good. I've tried three different styles, and I hardly think this new one looks dated. Thanks for replying, though, and being honest.
I still cling to the hope that it'll be "alright on the night" because I'm getting heaps of referral traffic from Softpedia and Download.com, so my descriptions and apps are obviously intriguing people enough to come look. Just buy, dammit! :)
"You have too many fonts, styles & colours and the text is very small"
I'm just looking closer at this comment. I have only one font, one style, and one text colour (aside from the "Learn more" links). Also, the text size is comparable to collabable's. So, could you please point out exactly where I have different fonts, styles, and colors?
I was looking at the appnote page, here: http://www.coalde.com/appnote.htm
The text size is similar, but it looks smaller because of the dark background and the lack of whitespace.
The "Benefits" graphic makes it look old fashioned, very 1990's.
I agree that the Collabable logo looks like a "Q", which is unfortunate (the "tail" should be de-emphasised and on the other side). I never said it was perfect, but I think it looks more modern.
I spotted a typo, I think "...at the same application..." should be "...in the same application...".
Of course, IMHO and YMMV, as always.
Hi Scorpio, thanks for replying.
Sorry I got a little gruff there too; I'm sure you can understand why.
I was always unsure about the "Benefits" logo too, but do you know how hard it is to represent "Benefits" as a graphic? Try searching Google for a "Benefits" logo... there really isn't any.
I thought there was enough whitespace? Each section on that page has about 2cm of space between them. As for the font size, the text is bigger than the text in the blue box at left here in the BoS forums, so I don't think that's really an issue.
That's not a typo either: "at the same application" is grammatically valid in that context, because you're pressing a hotkey at a location (the app being used). Not inside the application, which would make it sound like the hotkey is part of the app itself, rather than AppNote's hotkey.
Again, sorry for the terse response. I think I'll go for a motorbike ride to clear my head and relax a bit. :)
Honestly the site looks like 1995. If you're not a web designer, your best bet is to go with a pre-made theme. See my link below. You can get a nice one for $10 to $20. Some are complex, some are simple.
Although a content management system like Wordpress might be overkill for a site your site, it would make applying a theme and editing content much easier - as easy as web e-mail is.
As for your site, the background image does not span the entire page to the bottom.
The font is plain.
The screen shots are too small. With the minimal amount of text you have next to each product on the front page, your screenshot could easily be 1/3 of the width of the page.
Your logo should link to home.
About Us should be its own page, not inside of contact us.
The benefits image looks like it came from some 1990 clip art package.
The version numbers are not important to most users, relegate that info to somewhere in the text info instead in the page "title".
The glass buttons are yesterday, a more modern button would be done in css with tools like this: http://www.css-tricks.com/examples/ButtonMaker/
Look at the themes on http://themeforest.net/category/site-templates and ask yourself, does my site look anything like ANY of these?
If you want any help setting any of that up, just ask, I'll be glad to help out.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
No problems. I get why you might be upset when you've invested a lot of time and effort into something. It is often a harsh audience around here (I should know!), but it keeps us honest, so in the end it is better.
Maybe just do the "Benefits" thing with text, as that graphic is particularly bad.
If I were you, I'd add some more whitespace around your text, increase the line-spacing a little. The text here in the forum is not a good pattern to copy, as it is there for occasional use (hardly anyone reads it). On the other hand, your copy is read by everyone, you hope, and is your best chance to sell your product. Not the same thing at all.
To me, that is a typo, as the people say "I was in Excel", not "I was at Excel". You have to use the same language that your users employ, so "in" not "at".
As always, IMHO and YMMV.
Back from my ride. :)
Mike, hello and thanks for looking. You're right, I'm not a web designer. :)
The background image is 1000 pixels high. What is your screen resolution? <Shocked>.
The font is plain: yep, just the way I like it.
Screen shots too small? You know you can click to zoom?
"Benefits" image, yeah, I know I've got to change it.
Buttons look fine to me, but I'll probably change them with the link you gave.
To be honest, I don't know how to use all those templates successfully. I get lost in them and can't follow CSS, so I prefer my own hand-written HTML where I know what's going on. So, don't know what I'm going to do next. Maybe just pull the plug on the whole idea. I guess I'm not cut out for it. Have to face that reality. Nobody's going to buy a notepad app anyway.
Harry, your contributions to this forum will be here forever (or until our host quits pointing his DNS records here). If you want to move on, change your login password to something you'll never remember, and if you decide to come back at a later date, register under another name.
However much time and money you spend, consider it an incredibly valuable education.
You know all sorts of things to not do next time :o)
Keep at it - find something that will sell, perhaps by improving something already selling, And next time be willing to hire some professionals to help, for example you can easily find someone to tweak a template for you.
Best of luck Harry.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I know it is upsetting. But you did ask and I think people are doing their best to be constructive and honest, not mean.
I think the problem is that you don't have any talent in this area (NB/ I don't have a great deal either) so you don't know what is good and what is bad. See:
It is a tough problem. If you want to improve, I suggest you pick a cheap template and get someone to tweak it for you. It shouldn't cost a lot.
Or stick with what you had last. Any site is better no site. Your previous effort looked a bit date, but it wasn't awful. Look on the bright side - no everyone is as discenerning as people here. There are plenty of other people who can't tell the difference between a beautiful state-of-the-art website and a dated one. ;0)
Sunday, February 24, 2013
> The background image is 1000 pixels high. What is your screen resolution? <Shocked>.
2560x1600 on the monitor I run my browser, but the browser is 1282x1560 (two browser windows side by side).
Anyway, the nice thing about css is that it unclutters your html page.
I tried to help, I offered to help with the pages.
If you change your mind about quitting, just let me know, I'll help put together a page without charge, it's not really that hard if you are shown the easier way to do it.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Harry, the problem with your web site is easy to fix. If you give up on this what are you going to do when your business faces real difficult issues?
Not everybody is a designer (I am not). You do not have to be a designer these days to have a reasonably good website. There are tons of good looking free web site templates on the internet. If you have no eye for good design just listen to what the guys here tell you. Do not try to create the site yourself. Pick a ready template and just edit the text and replace the screenshots. Do not touch anything else.
Okay, I'm still lurking but not planning to start again at the moment with the same apps. As I said above, I don't really like my Note app anyway, it was a silly concept, and then all the comments about th website looking dated just made the decision for me.
However, I do fully intend to re-launch another time under a new domain with fresher, more original apps. I'm working on them right now, and they're not "yet another notepad".
As for the free website templates, I don't see how to just "edit" an existing one. I've looked and tested but they all seem to have a strict format that doesn't allow easy modification like that.
So, maybe please point in the right direction... where is a free software-based template that lets me list all my products on the Home page, with links to dedicated products on separate pages? I honestly can't find one.
And how do I edit these easily? Is there a WYSIWYG method?
If you're looking for a tool that makes some of the layout/typography/etc. decisions for you but still allows you to code your website yourself, check out twitter bootstrap:
Or just use wordpress and buy a theme.
Monday, February 25, 2013
I encourage you to put your site back up and spend the next large chunk of your time studying marketing, copywriting and HTML/CSS. For your next project you will need a good website too, so you may as well get these skills into place now.
The thing about writing websites is that most people put them up and then only read them when they want to add something. However, you should read your own website every other day. You will be surprised about how many mistakes you can find, or how poorly you represented something.
In the long term you will pick up traffic/links to the current website, and to your free product. This will be useful for the next product because one aspect of marketing is that you need to gain customers trust. If your site looks brand new and has no history it will make it harder to get that trust. If you can show you have had previous products that you updated and improved over time then that will look much better.
In the mean time you may actually get a sale or two.
I actually thought the notepad idea was quite good but a little basic. I use things like TiddlyWiki and FreeMind to achieve the same thing, but without the hotkey.
I'm glad you're back. You weren't in this business long enough to give up yet :)
I will say there's maybe a little too much emphasis on the visuals of your website in this thread. That's really not the most important part of running a successful business. I didn't see your latest website, so I don't know how good or bad it was, but your previous iterations weren't that bad.
The most important thing is having a product that solves your users' problems. Without that, you have nothing.
Second is marketing--getting people to find your product and being able to clearly communicate your product's benefits to the user. You could have the most amazing software in the world, but if no one uses it, knows about it, or knows how it will help them, then you aren't going to get very far.
Third, I would say support and trust-building. Things like being there to help your users (and communicating with them professionally) and having a website and product that isn't riddled with typos, slang, etc. If people don't trust you and your product, they aren't going to hand over their money. I'm not saying this was a problem for you, it wasn't.
Having a visually attractive website is farther down the list. Function is definitely more important than form.
If you want to be successful as a uISV, you need to be in it for the long haul. This isn't a get rich quick scheme. There is no silver bullet to magically increase your sales 10x. You just have to keep improving your business continuously. It is an iterative process.
Monday, February 25, 2013
"Coalde" made me think of... Coal.
Coal-German? goes the machine translation.
German coal? A guide to German fracking? An inane third world spam site with broken Engrish?
I know, Ctrl-Alt-Del. But I had to dig through the Internet Archive to figure that out.
Yes to marketing self study. Yes to Wordpress.
A lot of the free WP themes like "Responsive" are almost blank slates that you can customize freely with CSS.
Take a look at http://www.wysiwygwebbuilder.com. They have free templates also.
Best of luck !
Is this some sort of joke?
>>free templates also.
This thread is all about not making a website that looks like it was hit with a bag of spanners in 1995. All of the templates on the link you supplied look very, very dated.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
"Ctrl-Alt-Del. But I had to dig through the Internet Archive to figure that out."
That's not actually my site... it was the previous domain owner. So, that's even more of a reason that I'm glad I dropped that name: I don't want to be "tied" to some other company or service from the past. Next domain that I choose, I will study VERY carefully to ensure it never previously existed.
Thanks for all new responses too... as Arnie said, I'll be back! Just not yet. Need a long break and time to reflect.
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