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SIC2009 Andy Brice Oryx Digital Ltd http://www.successfulsoftware.net Ten Mistakes µISVs Make
Introduction • A quick dash through ten mistakes I have seen µISVs make (including myself) • Questions at the end
About me • Writing software professionally since 1987 • Full-time µISV since Jan 2005 • product: www.perfecttableplan.com • Consultant to µISVs • specialising in one day consultations to help µISVs, especially with marketing and usability • Blog: www.successfulsoftware.net • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
#1. Too much emphasis on technology • The customer cares about whether you solve their problem • They are a lot less interested in whether you do it in Silverlight or C • Starting with a solution and then working back to a problem is clearly sub-optimal • The answer is not always “more code”!
#2. Only thinking about marketing after v1.0 is released • Everything in the product should be informed by marketing decisions, including: • Features implemented • Platforms supported • Aesthetics • Type of user interface • Licensing • Trial restrictions • Segmentation (e.g. ‘lite’ and ‘pro’ editions) • So make the marketing decisions first!
#3. Insufficient focus • µISVs have limited resources and it is essential to focus them • With focus your product is easier to develop, easier to market and has less competition • You should be able to describe what it does in one sentence • Even small niches can be profitable • There are over a billion people on the Internet!
#4. Lack of a clear message • Your website must make it clear what your product does in a few seconds • Add a big, unambiguous statement of what it does at the top (‘strapline’) • Move large chunks of text to separate pages • Less is more
#5. No obvious call to action • Tell them what to do next • Subtlety is overrated, be bold Download Now
#6. Not doing basic SEO • Organic search is the best possible promotion • Targeted • Free! • Do basic on-page SEO • Page Titles, Page names, Meta tags, H1s, Image titles, etc. • Write good content • Avoid snake-oil salesmen
#7. Using Adwords without understanding or monitoring • Don’t use Adwords unless you are prepared to learn the rules and do a lot of tweaking • Make sure you at least understand: • search ads vs content ads • broad vs phrase vs exact match • negative keywords • geographic targeting • A/B testing of ads • Start with a small daily budget
#8. Not offering a money-back guarantee • People are much more likely to make a decision if they know it is reversible • Refunds don’t cost anything apart from time (through PayPal, anyway) • Customers can get a refund anyway (chargeback), so you might as well offer one • Show the guarantee prominently
#9. Not releasing v1.0 soon enough • The only sure way to know if your product will succeed is to release it • Advantages of releasing early: • Feedback • Cashflow • Motivation • Failing faster • Disadvantages of releasing early: • A lot less than you might think • If you aren’t embarrassed by v1.0, you didn’t release it early enough
#10. Not focusing enough on the initial experience • You never get a second chance to make a good first impression • First 5 minutes is crucial • Your competitor is only a few clicks away • Usability testing is easy (but painful!) • Well explained by Krug in his “Don’t make me think” book
Conclusion • Many of these mistakes are relatively easy to fix, but: • We are often too close our products to see the problems ourselves • None of these problems can be solved by adding more features! • Many of these topics are (or will be) covered in more depth on my blog: • www.successfulsoftware.net • email@example.com