The web site still isn’t done yet. I’ve got a partial implementation at this point, but a large piece of the web site is missing, mainly because it depends heavily on my software being available and ready to integrate into the web site. This integration will involve allowing anyone to set up a trial account and use the software as if it were their own installation. One of the keys to making a successful software demo is to remove as many obstacles to running the demo as possible.
I interviewed once with Terra-Lycos for a Senior Software Engineer position for their Gamesville web site. During the course of the interviews, I was asked what I thought of the registration process. I told them it was far too long. It asked so many questions that really didn’t need to be there. While my interviewer somewhat conceded the point, there’s a school of thought that states that you should get as much information from your users as possible so that you know who you’re dealing with. That school of thought is run by the marketing department.
They point to the fact that if your user is a woman in her mid to late forties, you’re certainly not going to attempt to lure her to try some other product you have with a busty dark haired female image a la Lara Croft. On the other hand, if your user was a male aged 18-35 that’s something you would probably consider doing. But from what I could see, Terra Lycos took this information gathering to the extreme and placed every obstacle they could in the way of signing up. The fact is, that it was more annoying than anything else. Were I not interviewing for a job there, I would have simply closed the browser and that would have been the end of it. The end result? No marketing information at all for Lycos.
I plan on going to the other extreme. Users will enter their email address and that’s about it. They’ll be emailed login information for their trial, and that will be the end of it. No hassles, no fuss. The fewer obstacles, the better. If I could do it without even asking for an email address, I would but I don’t think that’s feasible.
So, the web site is progressing, another version of the software is nearly ready to be labeled Beta 4, and I have a second potential customer interested in the software just through word of mouth. Things are certainly looking good.