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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

New responsive PerfectTablePlan website

I put it off as long as I could. But after 10 years the perfecttableplan.com website was really showing its age. It was still converting ok, but it looked very old-fashioned and didn't work well on mobile devices. So I have finally given it a face lift with a (hopefully) modern looking and responsive design. What do you think?

http://www.perfecttableplan.com/
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
 
 
I think it looks great.  It is very clean and modern looking, which is nice.  And I like that the home page is simple so it's easy to assimilate what you see, but it also shows you screen shots of what the software does.  Then the take tour page gives a lot more information.

It seems I visit a lot of software web sites these days where you can watch a demo (that only shows part of what the software does) and "create a free account." But beyond that it's nearly impossible to find out "What are the features?" Videos are fine, but  I prefer something I can read that explains the features so I can hone in on what is important to me.

So - I like it.  No suggestions for improvement.
Emily Jones Send private email
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
 
 
What Emily said.  It looks great.
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
Your 'What customers say about Perfect Table Plan' page is the longest list of testimonials I've ever seen by a factor of at least 10! I wish the software I worked on attracted so much positive energy.
GregT Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
Thanks Emily and PSB136 .

>Your 'What customers say about Perfect Table Plan' page is the longest list of testimonials I've ever seen by a factor of at least 10!

It is a bit over the top. But at least nobody is going to think I made them up.
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
Looks really good Andy, although it has peed me off a little as it reminds me that I really need to sort my website out (again!).

How did you approach people for you testimonials? Were they unsolicited (and you just asked if you could post them) or did you go fishing for them? I would like to do something similar.
Anon123 Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
>it has peed me off a little as it reminds me that I really need to sort my website out (again!).

I put it off for a loong time. It took *ages* to do.
~160 pages to 'port' to the new design (plus loads of help and newsletters)
10 years of cruft to sort out
I hope I don't have to do it for another 10 years.

>How did you approach people for you testimonials? Were they unsolicited (and you just asked if you could post them) or did you go fishing for them? I would like to do something similar.

Post purchase surveys:
http://successfulsoftware.net/2008/04/28/getting-customer-feedback/

They are all real, all paying customers and all used with permission (apart from a quote from Twitter, which was already in the public domain). In retrospect they would probably be better with photos of the people being quoted.
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
Please report how the new site affected your download or conversion rates, seo rankings, whatever.
Zka Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
Great job, it now looks exactly like all the other 'modern' websites (for better or worse ;).
Yes, please let us know how this affects conversion rates!
Calvert Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
I plan to do a write-up with some stats on my blog at some point.

It would have been nice to do a true A/B test of the 2 designs, side-by-side. Unfortunately it wasn't practical.
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
 
 
I checked on both PC and phone, looks great. Actually looks a bit better by phone.



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Thursday, December 17, 2015
 
 
Looks nice, but I've got some suggestions:

1. There's a minor bug when the view is small but zoomed in, for example on this screenshot I've got Chrome at 150% and Firefox at 120%:

http://s8.postimg.org/p8us7saz9/Perfect_Table_Plan.png

2. Why are the images small and blurred? The PNG image format is lossless, I see no reason for the text on the images to not be perfectly legible. I've been annoyed by this problem on other websites and software screenshots as well and my first impression is of very clumsy work.

3. It would be nice to have a few very short videos showing how to solve some typical scenarios, I don't know if your potential clients need this, but I've wanted it for many programs to see if I like them instead of installing them. This also helps when the user is still learning how to use the software for the first time.

4. I don't see a detailed list of all the features, this could be a bulletted list or a bunch of screenshots of all option windows, or a short video showing all option windows. Again I've needed this when I've searched for a program that has some peculiar feature which most alternatives don't have.

5. It would be nice if a non-installable version was available, even if it's severely limited in functionality, generally I don't want to install software when I'm only evaluating it.
Mangler Send private email
Monday, December 21, 2015
 
 
>1. There's a minor bug when the view is small but zoomed in, for example on this screenshot I've got Chrome at 150% and Firefox at 120%:
>http://s8.postimg.org/p8us7saz9/Perfect_Table_Plan.png

It seems a bit unlikely to happen in practice. I'm not sure if that is worth fixing.

>2. Why are the images small and blurred? The PNG image format is lossless, I see no reason for the text on the images to not be perfectly legible. I've been annoyed by this problem on other websites and software screenshots as well and my first impression is of very clumsy work.

Do you mean the animated image at the top of the home page? I am using an animated GIF. I will probably replace it with a Javascript/PNG slideshow at some point.

>3. It would be nice to have a few very short videos showing how to solve some typical scenarios, I don't know if your potential clients need this, but I've wanted it for many programs to see if I like them instead of installing them. This also helps when the user is still learning how to use the software for the first time.

I do have some overview videos. But they are old and not very good, so I left them out of the new website. I intend to get a new one done professionally at some point.

I do have various 'how do I...' videos I did myself. For example see the linked videos here and in the documentation:
http://www.perfecttableplan.com/html/compare_editions.html

>4. I don't see a detailed list of all the features, this could be a bulletted list or a bunch of screenshots of all option windows, or a short video showing all option windows. Again I've needed this when I've searched for a program that has some peculiar feature which most alternatives don't have.

But you are a programmer. The vast majority of my customers aren't!

I hope the 'tour' page is enough to give a basic overview.

>5. It would be nice if a non-installable version was available, even if it's severely limited in functionality, generally I don't want to install software when I'm only evaluating it.

It only runs on Windows and Mac. I don't have any realistic way to run it in the browser. You have to install it to try it.
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
 
 
Serious question: obviously the app is popular, but for a wedding is it really that hard to organize tables?  I can't grasp what the problem is.  My wife and I did ours years ago in about 30 min on paper.  100 guests, some circles on paper, filled in the names.  No biggie.  Are people really that disorganized that they need to pay for an app?  If so, that's fantastic for you Andy, and I'm honestly happy for you and jealous of your success, but I just don't get it.  Maybe my wife and I just have easy-going families who don't mind where they sit.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
 
 
>but for a wedding is it really that hard to organize tables? 

I thought so. We had 60 guests with no feuds at our wedding and I really struggled to do the table plan. I ended up with a table of 2 and a table of 20. There are more ways to organize 60 guests in 60 seats (60! = 60x59x58..x2x1) than there are atoms in the observable universe.  Imagine if you have 200 guests and your parents have both re-married and had second families. It gets complicated!
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
 
 
Organizing any gathering of people and trying organizing the seating beyond sit where you want gets complicated and political it seems.

Who gets to sit near the guests of honor can be a subtle thorn in the side for some people. Maybe the wedding party wants to see close family and friends immediately around them.

I didn't think it would have been that complicated either until my friends started getting married and complaining about figuring out seating. After seeing their frustration I pointed them to PerfectTablePlan and they bought  it even if it was for just the one time use because it saved them a load of time.

Andy you have one of those products that it seems no one needs. That is until they need it then they are willing to pay to get it done. To me a great example of solving a problem really well.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
 
 
@TrippinOnIT
>After seeing their frustration I pointed them to PerfectTablePlan and they bought  it

Thanks. ;0)

The thing is, there are billions of people out there. You don't need to (and, in fact shouldn't) appeal to all of them. You just need to find a sub-set of them with a big enough pain that they are prepared to pay to make it go away.

@PSB136
You did your seating plan in an hour or so with pen and paper. You probably weren't too bothered about printing out place cards, a charts, reports or the other things PerfectTablePlan can do. So it wasn't really worth $30 to you. You're not my target market.

Maybe if you got divorced and remarried and invited 200 people, or if you gave up software to become a professional wedding planner then you would be. ;0)
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
 
 
>>1. There's a minor bug when the view is small but zoomed in, for example on this screenshot I've got Chrome at 150% and Firefox at 120%:
>>http://s8.postimg.org/p8us7saz9/Perfect_Table_Plan.png

>It seems a bit unlikely to happen in practice. I'm not sure if that is worth fixing.

I say it's a very common problem, or at least I see that problem on many websites, and not just me but everyone who uses a zoom other than 100%.

A short glance at your CSS shows that all font sizes are in px, I say it's better to use em units for proper scaling, if you want more info about it here:

http://kyleschaeffer.com/development/css-font-size-em-vs-px-vs-pt-vs/
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/609517/why-em-instead-of-px


>>2. Why are the images small and blurred? The PNG image format is lossless, I see no reason for the text on the images to not be perfectly legible. I've been annoyed by this problem on other websites and software screenshots as well and my first impression is of very clumsy work.

>Do you mean the animated image at the top of the home page? I am using an animated GIF. I will probably replace it with a Javascript/PNG slideshow at some point.

That one and these as well:

http://www.perfecttableplan.com/html/tour.html
http://www.perfecttableplan.com/assets/images/guest-list-tour.png


>>3. It would be nice to have a few very short videos showing how to solve some typical scenarios, I don't know if your potential clients need this, but I've wanted it for many programs to see if I like them instead of installing them. This also helps when the user is still learning how to use the software for the first time.

>I do have some overview videos. But they are old and not very good, so I left them out of the new website. I intend to get a new one done professionally at some point.

>I do have various 'how do I...' videos I did myself. For example see the linked videos here and in the documentation:
http://www.perfecttableplan.com/html/compare_editions.html

Ok those are sharp videos, much better than the screenshots, but I wouldn't expect to find them there, instead I was searching for them in Tour and Gallery. Remember that I want to see the videos in order to decide whether this product is useful to me, and I would be comparing editions only after I've decided this product is useful.


>>4. I don't see a detailed list of all the features, this could be a bulletted list or a bunch of screenshots of all option windows, or a short video showing all option windows. Again I've needed this when I've searched for a program that has some peculiar feature which most alternatives don't have.

>But you are a programmer. The vast majority of my customers aren't!

>I hope the 'tour' page is enough to give a basic overview.

I don't know, maybe the amateur users wouldn't care about it, but the professional planners might do.


>>5. It would be nice if a non-installable version was available, even if it's severely limited in functionality, generally I don't want to install software when I'm only evaluating it.

>It only runs on Windows and Mac. I don't have any realistic way to run it in the browser. You have to install it to try it.

I meant non-installable but still downloadable, like a portable zip file. I want to run the program right after downloading it, see if I like it and then immediately delete its folder.

And talking about running it in the browser, such technologies do exist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDhUJ1D4988
Mangler Send private email
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
 
 
Andy, just to clarify: I'm not dissing you or your product at all, in case you thought I were.  I'm just amazed that guests don't want to sit where they're allocated, and that such an app is needed to pacify them.
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, December 24, 2015
 
 
@PSB136
To be honest - I was also pretty surprised that I could make a living out of PerfectTablePlan.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, December 24, 2015
 
 
> I want to run the program right after downloading it, see if I like it and then immediately delete its folder.

Sounds like an idea for an app.  ;)
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, December 24, 2015
 
 
@Mangler wrote:
>That one and these as well:
>http://www.perfecttableplan.com/html/tour.html

They are scaled to 80%. I might A/B test full size versions (or as big as will fit on the page).

>Ok those are sharp videos, much better than the screenshots, but I wouldn't expect to find them there, instead I was searching for them in Tour and Gallery.

These are 'how to' video addressing very specific things in the software. I need some higher level (and more professional) video as an intro.

>I don't know, maybe the amateur users wouldn't care about it, but the professional planners might do.

It's a challenge to cater to both.

>I meant non-installable but still downloadable, like a portable zip file. I want to run the program right after downloading it, see if I like it and then immediately delete its folder.

You're thinking like a techie again. The vast majority of my customers are not techies.

There is a zip file version for people having problems with the installer.

>And talking about running it in the browser, such technologies do exist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDhUJ1D4988

I expect the experience is horrible. I would rather they downloaded the demo (which is just a few clicks). If they can't be bothered to do that, they probably aren't interested enough to buy a licence.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, December 24, 2015
 
 
>>That one and these as well:
>>http://www.perfecttableplan.com/html/tour.html

>They are scaled to 80%. I might A/B test full size versions (or as big as will fit on the page).

I don't quite understand you here. You will A/B test blurred images instead of making each and every one perfectly sharp?

I don't know how you did the HTML and the image resizing or who did it for you, but it's definitely not properly done if I have to see blurred images on a 32-inch monitor here. The only case where an image could be blurred is if it's reduced dynamically to fit on a very small screen and even then I'd put an option where the user can click it and view it in full size even if it doesn't fit his screen and he has to scroll it.


>>Ok those are sharp videos, much better than the screenshots, but I wouldn't expect to find them there, instead I was searching for them in Tour and Gallery.

>These are 'how to' video addressing very specific things in the software. I need some higher level (and more professional) video as an intro.

Yeah that's a great thing and missing on many products out there. I remember how impressed I was a few years ago when I run onto the Basecamp website and how in a short video of less than 1 minute they explained so well what their product was about.


>>I don't know, maybe the amateur users wouldn't care about it, but the professional planners might do.

>It's a challenge to cater to both.

But you already do cater to both, don't you have enough sales of the $300 version to dedicate a few extra afternoons to the website and polish a few things for the professional planners only?


>>I meant non-installable but still downloadable, like a portable zip file. I want to run the program right after downloading it, see if I like it and then immediately delete its folder.

>You're thinking like a techie again. The vast majority of my customers are not techies.

>There is a zip file version for people having problems with the installer.

Yup I'm stating the deficiencies that I see as a non-typical user, so probably not all of my suggestions will apply to your customer base or be worth the effort.


>>And talking about running it in the browser, such technologies do exist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDhUJ1D4988

>I expect the experience is horrible. I would rather they downloaded the demo (which is just a few clicks). If they can't be bothered to do that, they probably aren't interested enough to buy a licence.

For me as a techie I'd prefer the horrible experience over installing yet another app, but for your customer base you're probably right.
Mangler Send private email
Thursday, December 24, 2015
 
 
Actually, you could use Sandboxie to trial any app without it dirtying your system.
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, December 24, 2015
 
 
Mangler
>I don't know how you did the HTML and the image resizing or who did it for you, but it's definitely not properly done if I have to see blurred images on a 32-inch monitor here.

It does seem to be dynamically resizing the images, when there is no need to. For the first image on the tour page it says:
"525px × 381px (scaled to 524px × 381px)"
I'm not sure why it is doing that (CSS is not one of my strong points).
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
 
 
Andy,

Can I ask you, do you see sales improvements with the new website design?
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
 
 
It is a bit to early to say how much difference the website redesign has had on sales, especially given that this is my quietest time of the year. However mobile traffic does seem to be going up. I plan to do a write-up on http://www.successfulsoftware.net when I have enough data.
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
 
 
Thanks, Andy. Good luck!
Igor Kokarev Send private email
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
 
 

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