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We lost a customer. This is how we found out (ramen.is)
373 points by wickedcoolmatt 1330 days ago | hide | past | web | 121 comments | favorite

It's pretty common on a lot of recent startup landing pages. Great looking design, nice little touches like animation - but very little detail on how the product actually works. The assumption is that someone curious is going to sign up to find out. Lots of people won't do this and will just bounce. I think every landing page should try to answer these questions:

  What is your product?
  Why would I use your product?
  How does your product work?
  What does your product cost? 
    ("Still working on it" is fine, but say so)
  What countries are you available in?

You've made a good list, but I think we need to begin with even more basic things.

(1) Make sure people know that the page deals with a product that is sold by a company. A web page can be anything. Maybe it's a comic strip. Or a page of essays ranting about various topics. Or an open-source project. Or a demonstration of some CSS technique.

(2) Tell what kind of thing the product is. Some companies, when asked about their product, will say something like, "It helps people discover and share ... [whatever]." But given that, I don't know whether it's an iOS app or a Windows binary or web site or an e-mail list or a metal detector or a buy-some-food-and-send-half-to-my-friend shopping service.

But all the marketing people will say "we don't sell products we sell solutions."

I think there's a legitimate version of that. People mostly buy solutions, not products. For example, my projector recently died, so I bought another one. That one didn't actually solve my problem, so I returned it for one that did.

So I think a good landing page should make it clear what the solution is. For example, Dropbox opens with "Your stuff, anywhere", with a picture of a phone and a tablet sitting on a laptop. Their product is disk space plus some free syncing software. But they have wisely focused on the solution, not the product.

If you don't tell me what you are giving me a solution to, I don't know whether it fits my problem.

Also, I generally know my problem better than you do.

If that gets in the way of writing copy that actually converts people, fire your marketing staff.

There should be a W3C validator service for this.

Oddly: seems like this might be a place for Google to put its natural language processing skills to work. If they can figure out WTF a product, excuse me, solution page is about, you're in reasonably good hands. Maybe.

Many times I see a link on HN and click on it, and they act like everyone knows exactly what is going on.

It gives me a nagging feeling that I am completely out of touch with HN, too.

The way moderators edit headlines doesn't help this at all.

This happens almost 100% of the time with product updates. You are taken to a page that says "We have released version 3.1.5 of Gizmo. Download it here." with not even a hint of what Gizmo is.

Updates and bugreports are two communications I specifically had in mind when writing my "Tell me what the fuck it is EVERY GODDAMNED TIME YOU COMMUNICATE ABOUT THE PRODUCT" above. Major peeve.

Well obviously Giz.mo giz's your mo's. Update 3.1.5 is going to completely upend the status quo, it is so disruptive & social.

Edit: The downvotes are making me giggle like a small child. Do I have a problem?

You're not alone. I find an awful lot (a majority?) of look-at-this HN posts to be nearly incomprehensible.

Yeah, especially if you think your blog post will get submitted to HN or reddit or TechCrunch... assume that nobody knows what your company does! Those that do will just skip over it, and those of us that don't will now know and everyone's happy.

Yeah, that's the problem here. The main product page doesn't answer any of this at all, and there doesn't appear to be an FAQ or any actual information about how the process works.

At best, I infer that this is a kickstarter clone for startups, but my major questions as a potential backer, like how does this work legally don't seem to be answered at all. The signup for the email list doesn't actually explain what "curated" means here, and the signup is a 1 field form for my email.

And if I were a potential project creator, there's even less information. They mention "support", but there isn't any info about what that support is.

Clicking on the "About" just brings up pictures of the team and investors, which is pretty much worthless information. I want to know about what the company does, not just who's in it. Their "product" page is a kickstarter-style pitch page, but it's not clear that they're actually talking about the product(which they apparently are)... and it appears that they're using it to sell things to raise money for the startup.

I find it interesting and useful to contrast Ramen's website with Peek's. http://www.usertesting.com/?utm_source=Peek%20Home&utm_mediu...

The first text you see says "Eliminate bad customer experiences. Get videos of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your website or mobile app."

Beside that you have buttons "how it works", "Features", and a few more. Click on "how it works" and you land on a page that explains how it works. It is trivial to understand what this service is, whether it might be something you want, and how to get the information you need.

In contrast, on Ramen we get photos of the team.

When you've spent hours upon hours deep in the engine room of your product it's SO easy to forget that no one else knows what you've built. Doubly-so if you've come from the corporate world working on a product that already has immediate brand recognition.

This is a good checklist.

Honestly, at my last company we decided against adding a lot of this information. After measuring, it turned out that a simple, bare-bones landing page converted to signup best. After some investigation, it turned out that, for our business, the overwhelming majority of users showed up already knowing what they were about, rather than by searching "how do I x" or landing there via hacker news. What converted best was a site with our logo to confirm they were in the right place and a big, obvious way to sign up/in.

May I ask what type of product your company is offering? It's great that you have enough brand recognition to make the assumption that people know exactly what you're offering, but I feel that this isn't true even for the biggest brands in certain domains.

I believe the site in question is https://www.expensify.com.

Do you at least have a link on the landing page that will take a visitor to a product explanation?

And they'll want your email address, and global permissions for your twitter and/or facebook account, just for the chance to maybe find out in the future what they should be telling you up front. "signing up" has, unfortunately, become something of a user-hostile act of late.

Indeed, this helps solve a bigger problem than usability: what the hell are they selling.

I'm often frustrated by the poor messaging written on landing pages or even the 'About [Product]' pages. Either the page is 100% marketing fluff or 100% technical info. With marketing fluff, I can read a thousand words and still not get any substance. With just technical info, they often leave out answering the key marketing answers: what are the competitive advantages?

It's not just startup pages. Often open source software homepage is a news page, which means recent release change lists are what the user sees first.

I guess someone good at writing and wrangling the change system could submit change requests, but it's a shame that's needed.

Also if it's a blog post provide a big, fat, highly visible link to your actual site.

It's incredible how many product blogs will just bring you to the blog's main page if you click the title instead of the actual product website.

It's incredible that this happens. A popular blog post is the best way to get traffic back into your website, especially if your blog post is a technical one instead of a product update. I think:

"Oh wow, these guys really care about their product. I should check it out and keep it in the back of my mind for the future"

Also, When answering the question "what is your product" DO NOT SAY "we are like yyy for xxx"

Half the sites I see that use this I have absolutely no idea what 'yyy' is or does, so you may as well have put nothing at all.

Yeah I hear you. We put ton of long form philosophical waxing onto our blog in the early days. We're working now on taking all that and boiling it down to homepage-speak. Homepages are hard ;)

You already know this, but...on the Ramen Project Page itself (buried below all the "Back this Project" links) is a "How It Works" sections that seems to contain exactly the information the Peeker was looking for (I watched the video, and he must have said "how does this work" or some variation of that 5 or 6 times)

Why not just put that (or a link directly to that section) somewhere prominent on the home page?

> Lots of people won't do this and will just bounce

That's a huge assumption. The only way to know for real is to A/B test. You may be surprised by what testing will tell you. We constantly A/B test landing page designs at Ordoro, and have often found results that are counter-intuitive.

Agreed. I'm hoping the dude used a bigger sample than one to determine whether the design needs to change. A/B test for sure.

Any specific examples you could share?

Or better yet

Here is a problem This is how our product solves that problem

followed by additional features that make your product stand out.

No, that's worse!

The page shouldn't say: "Today, developing apps is cheap, and founders want to take the risk themselves. There's no need for millions of dollars. Let's cut Wall Street out, and fund them ourselves. With Ramen.is, you can:

* ... * ...


It should say, "Crowd-funding for app developers. Let your app be funded by those who need it, $5 at a time.

If you build it, it's because they came."

A big one for me:

    What does your product look like?

And: How much does it cost?

Oh man, this is the one that cheeses me off so much. These web sites where you have to give them your email to get info about a product, or whatever. Forget it. Not going to touch it with a 10-foot pole. If you can't be honest and open up-front, I'm sure as heck not doing business with you.

"I failed to explain the benefits Ramen can provide."

No, I think those came across quite clearly. He wants to know how it works, i.e. what is required of him, and what will the process of getting funded look like. That's a difference.

Our wording is a little off there. Appreciate the feedback, and you're totally right.

Do you have anything that does explain how it works? I'm very interested and would love to learn about it.

We have outline of how Ramen works here (we actually funded Ramen on Ramen): https://ramen.is/projects/ramen

We're currently working to boil all that down and bring it right out in front to fix this problem. Basically what happened here was this version of the home page was somewhere between a teaser and functional homepage. We've been working on so many other parts of the business, we let one of the most important pages slip. We're hoping to fix this with our new design coming out soon.

Here's a free stab at some copy:

"Get funding for your software project from early adopters who care. Ramen lets you raise money from users who help test and develop your product."

Your homepage lacks clear instructions for either startup projects or investor/users. Have a clear look at the frontpage of ramen.is from the perspective of a user, then look at sites like YouTube, Soundcloud, BBC iPlayer, Kickstater and so on. These are all trying to seduce people in to look at things that are new and fresh.

Then look at it from the perspective of the startup entrepreneur. Business users want to see both clear instructions on how to use the site and what they'll get out of it, as well as seeing activity of existing projects, case studies of companies that have used it before.

You aren't doing that good at providing either.

Just some constructive criticism, I hope. Interesting project.

Yup, your landing page is very confusing. (mine once was too!) My best suggestion is to grab a few people who would be your typical audience, physically sit them next to them and watch/listen as you ask them things like:

What would you do first?

Is it clear what the site does for you?

What do you think will happen if you click X

Why would you come to this site?

Iterate and keep going! Good luck.

Move on.


I like how a guy records a video in which he talks about how he has no idea what they are about.

Then they write a blog post about it. Submit it to HN, get to the front page, get lots of potential customers...

And there is still no information on their site about who they are and how it works...

Yeah, I actually ran into the exact same problem earlier today when I was looking at the Ramen site. It sounded interesting, and I was considering submitting my site to it, but I wasn't (and still am not) clear on how it actually works. Is it for fundraising like Kickstarter, or can I use it to promote an existing site? I went as far as creating an account, but I gave up when it required me to use my Linkedin account (even after I signed up with an email address).

> gave up when it required me to use my Linkedin account


Another frustrated would-be customer here. Way to fail twice, Ramen.

Would be nice to see the "before and after" example of this after they do make the changes, and other customer feedback they used to make it.

Interesting comment on the bottom of the article:

  This random user is a prick.

  1. Why didn’t he scroll to the bottom of the page? I noticed an “about us” link in the footer.

  2. When I’m curious about companies, I look at their blogs. Sometimes they use a blog CMS system. Why didn’t this guy check the links in the header, like the link to your blog?

  3. This guy has a baby babbling in the background. Maybe he was distracted?

We do a lot of user testing at work and it has really opened my eyes. This sort of attitude really bums me out though. You can sit around all day and complain about customer incompetence. Meanwhile they are out using a different app/product and you still aren't making any money/conversions.

FWIW, I thought for a while about whether or not to approve that comment due to it's flamewar-factor, but I approved it so I could write this response:

"Ehhh I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a “prick”. Yeah he certainly could have gone through our blog and read up on Ramen. He could have clicked on our project page and watched our video. I think the point of Peek, though, is that you can’t tell a visitor that their first impression (and/or their first confusion) is _wrong_. I think he brings up a lot of completely valid points about our homepage. We haven’t put enough energy into making our homepage something that succinctly describes what we do. He called us out on it. I give him kudos."

Those projects appear to be your clients. Clicking on a project video is absolutely the wrong answer.

Why isn't "Fundraising Platform" in the left column clickable? That should lead to expository text, but it isn't even a link.

As a founder I loved to get feedback like this. Was I proud of some feature or design that I'd worked hard on? That's nice, but if it's not working for customers, it's not working. Swallow pride, move on.

Although that's a healthy attitude, it gets tricky when the company grows and the customer is criticizing work done by your employees. Your instinct is still that the customer is automatically right, and that's still true, but you have to be less blunt with employees than you'd be with yourself. You need to acknowledge their work was good, we just need to try something different. Regardless, they need to hear and act on it. And there is no way you call a customer a "prick", for offering polite feedback like in that video. You thank them.

Sometimes I'd remind folks that it wasn't me, it was our customers who were paying for our salaries, the office around us, the chairs we're sitting on. Ultimately the customers are the boss, not me.

Edit: If you have investors, now you have two bosses.

It's pretty clear that that commenter doesn't have any serious experience with user testing. A design needs to work with the user - you don't abuse the user because they don't efficiently use your design. Well, not if you're professional.

Yeah, if a user is completely lost to the point of giving up on your site despite having a genuine interest in it, acting like he's wrong or stupid is completely missing the point. The Ramen.is folks seem to have done a good job of taking the feedback to heart rather than getting defensive.

Look at it this way: if you're trying to get a user to use your site, what difference does it make whether the problem is due to bad design on your part or him supposedly being a bit dense? Your goal is to get him to use the site, so you take the usability failure and figure out how to make it harder for him to fail.

Everybody seems to be missing the biggest lesson from this. No matter how obvious you think the problems with the OPs site was you should...



Because if those problems were obvious to the OP - they would have fixed them. By definition. I guarantee that everybody here has there own blind spots with there own application or service.

I've been doing usability tests for nearly twenty years now - and the number of times we've found nothing that can be improved can be counted on approximately no hands.

Use online services like peek (there are many, many others too). Do them yourselves. Do them regularly. If I could pick only one thing to help folk improve their product - usability testing would be it. Even above customer interviewing. Nothing beats watching your customers try and fail to use your product.

Here's three books to get you started:

* Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-it-yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems, Steve Krug - Does exactly what it says on the tin. Short sharp guide to getting you started.

* Handbook of Usability Testing: Howto Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, Jeffrey Rubin & Dana Chisnell - The last book but in much more depth. The first edition of this was my bible when I started doing usability testing.

* Remote Research, Nate Bolt & Tony Tulathimutte - A great guide to how to approach getting the most out of remote usability testing services like peek. The tools are a few years out of date now. The advice isn't.

Seriously. If you're not already doing usability tests go spend an hour or two reading 'Rocket Surgery Made Easy' and then go test your product with some actual human beings. You'll thank me.

I agree with the importance of doing usability testing. I made this usability checklist (http://userium.com/), which can be used to catch common usability problems before user testing. By fixing obvious usability problems you get more meaningful feedback from users.

So much this.

A few bits I've noticed over 25+ years in the industry:

• Tell me what your product is. What it does, where it works, how it does it, what it requires. Is it a physical product (or is it shipped in one), an interactive application, a Web service, a programming language / tool?

• Tell me what the fuck it is EVERY GODDAMNED TIME YOU COMMUNICATE ABOUT THE PRODUCT. It doesn't have to be long or detailed, you can link to your detailed description in the communication. But your press releases, emails, Tweets, blog posts, marketing collateral, etc., are going to get passed around, word-of-mouthed, and/or pulled out of drawers (or browser history / searches) for weeks, months, and years to come. Make them work for you.

• The Economist's practice of briefly introducing any individual, no matter how famous or obscure, is a wonderful practice of microcontent contextualization. "Using the Economist house style offers an elegant alternative, wherein virtually all people and organizations are identified explicitly, no matter how prominent. For example, you might see 'Google, a search giant', 'GE, an American conglomerate', or 'Tim Cook, boss of Apple'." http://redd.it/1x8yky

• Tell me how to try it out. Preferably for 60-90 days (a 30 day cycle can go far too fast. I've been very, very impressed with New Relic's "use it for free, convert upmarket for additional features" model, and it's apparently worked well for them. For small accounts, their cost of sales is effectively nil (and for large accounts, COS is always a PITA). But for those large accounts, you've got a proven track record with the prospect, and they really know what they're getting.

• Put your tech docs front and center. As a technical lead / director, my questions are "how the fuck do I make this thing work", and if you can't tell me

• It's been observed many times that those who have the best appreciation for how a product works are those who use it directly, and secondly, those who either service it or support those using it. John Sealy Brown's The Social Life of Information addresses this with both Xerox copier repairmen and support staff. Use this to your advantage two ways: let these people share and collaborate, even if informally For the repairmen, this was a morning coffee break turned out to be a hugely valuable cross-training and troubleshooting feature. For phone support, after an "expert system" and changes in technology separating phone reps from technicians, researchers noted two reps who consistently provided good advice: one was a veteran from the earlier stage, the other a recent hire who sat across from the other and learned from her. Similarly, user support groups (mailing lists, Web forums, Usenet groups), in which users interact and share knowledge with one another directly (Hacker News would be an instance) are often (though not always) far more useful than direct tech support.

• Provide clear pricing information. This has been noted from Jacob Nielsen on forward as the information people are most interested in.

• Make damned sure that whatever process or workflow you've created online works, and for as many possible end-user environments as possible. Keeping interfaces as simple and legible as possible is a huge bonus.

• Remove distractions from your transactional webpages. Once someone's homed in on a product, focus on that, though you may mention alternatives or (truly useful) related products. Every additional piece of information on the screen is an opportunity to confuse and lose the sale. I've been restyling many websites simply for my own use (1000+), and simply removing distracting elements produces a far more productive environment.

• Ensure your pages are legible. Backgrounds should be light, foregrounds light (and where, with extreme reluctance, you invert these, separation should be clear). DO NOT SCALE FONTS IN PX. On far, far too many devices this renders as unreadable, particularly from older (e.g., more senior w/in the organization) readers. Grey-on-grey is just cause to fire whomever suggested or required it. See ContrastRebellion: http://www.contrastrebellion.com/

• Don't organize your website according to internal corporate structures. Your website is an outward facing tool, and should address the needs of users, not of internal departments. Lenovo's laptop site organization would be highly typical of this: I want a Linux-capable, large-display, full-keyboard, trackpoint device. The rest I generally don't give a shit about, and its product line confuses me every fucking goddamned time I try to buy something there (usually every 2-3 years). I'm not a sufficiently frequent customer that I keep up with every last change, but I've spent thousands of dollars on IBM/Lenovo products, as an individual (hundreds of thousands to millions as an enterprise customer).

And of course: test all of this, don't simply take my word for it. But yes, I've walked from far, far, far too many product pages, from free software projects to Fortune 10 companies to edgy app devs.

Life's too fucking short for that shit.

> Tell me what your product is.

I'm glad you led with that one, because I'm constantly asking that very question. Note to website designers: DON'T MAKE ME USE WIKIPEDIA TO FIGURE OUT WTF THE COMPANY DOES!

Unfortunately, quite a few companies aren't even in Wikipedia (of course they should get themselves added). That's the point when I simply give up. Life is too short.

Unfortunately, quite a few companies aren't even in Wikipedia (of course they should get themselves added).

It's not as simple as that. You have to meet notability requirements or your page is just going to get deleted.

The fact that some companies aren't in Wikipedia is irrelevant. The point was you shouldn't have to go to Wikipedia to find out.

Yup. So it's as "simple" as building a product that's notable enough to be worth a Wikipedia page.

Meh. If I am "notable", then the bar is set pretty damn low.

Absolutely. Indeed, I think it should be an accessibility requirement for every site to have a "[name] is ..." sentence somewhere on the front page.

>>> Tell me what your product is...

And if you are unable to do so without using the word Solutions you probably aren't sure yourself.

This really should be a blog post (because it's awesome). Maybe with some examples/graphics/links of "do" and "don't".

Thanks. I thought of writing it out as one (and fixing a few of my now-immortalized edit glitches). Looking at it (and the upboats) I may just do that. Stay tuned.


Seriously, so much this. I cannot even count the number of emails I receive along the lines of “We’re happy to let you know that we have launched macaroni.io" or some other crazy name that tells you nothing about what the product or service is.

Just take ONE sentence at the beginning of these emails to remind people what you do. Especially if they are not already users of your site and your goal is to get them to become users / customers.


More specifically: a good practice for those who interact with the media frequently is to have bios of varying lengths. Usually one sentence, a brief paragraph, a longer paragraph, and a full-length bio. Another alternative is to write a multi-paragraph description in traditional newspaper "inverted tree" format (most general to most specific), with increasing detail in subsequent paragraphs.

Select from this to clip to length for various materials as part of your standard media / press kit.

"It's been observed many times that those who have the best appreciation for how a product works are those who use it directly, and secondly, those who either service it or support those using it."

Thanks for the book reference. Similar observations by Lave and Wenger in a more academic style


I do think you have a blog post here as others have suggested.

FYI: Wenger is mentioned in Brown's index and bibliography, it's similar work.

Good summary of a lot of stuff that I've kinda vaguely thought.

Question on a related subject - what about product names? Better to name your product/site/company/whatever a simple, boring name that is descriptive of what your product does, like foobarer for something that bars your foo, or something that is short, vague, and cutesy, but hopefully more memorable than the simple, descriptive name, like twitter or the article's ramen? Or rather, any thoughts on the tradeoffs involved?

Be Quackable (or Googleable if you haven't kept up with the times).

I'd actually prefer to avoid either the utterly boring generic name (in the sense of something that's not readily searchable or differentiable), or something overly descriptive: "Facebook" may well prove to be a liability in another ten years (assuming the company survives), if the present "social network" mania has faded or moved on, and the company with it.

Other than that: beware of short acronyms which might be adopted by others. "SAS" is an airline, a shoe company, a special operations force, a hard drive specification (now obsolete), an environmental activist group, a homonym for an online application provisioning technology ... and the name of the largest privately held software company in the US.

The worst possible case I can think of is "R", a statistics software package, by way of command abbreviations, UNIX traditions, and free-software in-jokes. "S" was the stats package for AT&T's UNIX, a quickly typeable command a'la 'ls', 'rm', 'cc', 'vi', etc. "R" was "iterated S" as a free software project. It actually survives pretty well as a search term, though only for its popularity -- trying to break out now would likely be difficult.

Microsoft isn't a bad name (though overly descriptive), but many of its product names ("Word", "Windows", "Server", "SQL Server", "Outlook", "Exchange") are hard to differentiate. Even its most significant product offering, NT, was at the time predominantly associated with a Canadian telecoms concern, since bankrupted.

Though brief, IBM is spectacularly resilient, as is its description, "International Business Machines". SUN, the Stanford University Network, did pretty well. "Apple", despite being relatively generic, is distinctive in its space. I'm partial to companies named for people, if only indirectly: RSA was an exception in the IT space, though New Relic is an anagram of its founder and CEO's name, Lew Cerne. If nothing else it suggests a possible long-term investment by the founder, though there's some risk: Debian outlived Deborah and Ian's marriage.

"Google" as a made-up word has survived pretty well, and can even transition (assuming trust in the company does) outside search. "Cisco" for routers strikes me as good. "Salesforce.com" seems to me to be ripe for a renaming eventually, as "dot com" anything still carries (for me at least) a taint of the get-rich-quick schemes of the late 1990s. I see either "Salesforce" or "SFC" in its future. "Peoplesoft" was similarly limited. "Oracle" took its name from a government project. Most of these are robust names, though each effectively created its brand image by filling an empty vessel. On the other hand, "Computer Associates" is so generic (and tainted as "where software goes to die) as to be pejorative.

Outside heavy manufacturing or specific service industries requiring specialization (e.g., transport, airlines, hospitality), I'd tend to avoid a very strong product tie. "General Motors" has worked fairly well, "Xerox" isn't too bad. Software and services tend to be more ... fluid.

"Lenovo" doesn't mean anything to me other than "sells IBM kit I like", but I can find their website (if not anything on it once I'm there). "Apache" was an in-joke to slapdash development efforts, "vim" a one-letter extension to a two-letter command. "Chrome" seems to me to be getting overloaded with meanings (is it a browser, an OS, an "environment", whatever that is)? I suspect Android may be shed at some point as overly techy, though I could be wrong on that. "AWK" is another founder's name. "C" is another don't-do-that-but-it-worked single-letter name, and also something of a line of jokes: BCPL -> B -> C -> C++, C#, C--, D.

There's also the case of names which are meant to be hard to remember or recall: "Xe Services" (formerly Blackwater, now Academi), Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris Companies). Collections agencies often operate under extremely generic names which defy both recollection and search ("Prestige Services"). Another favorite for reasons of obscurity is "Various, Inc.", once described as a photo-oriented relationship networking organization. Bail bondsmen like to be the first name in the book -- easy to find in a time of pressing need. Pick your name to suit your goals for noteriety or not.uuuuuuuu

If you go back through history there are trends in company names: place and description (New York Times, Pennsylvania Oil, Bethlehem Steel), founder(s) (Woolworths, Westinghouse, Pullman, Johnson Wax), size or generality (IBM, GE, NCR, NBC), mythology or culture (Mazda -- both lights and motorcars, Ajax, CBS). In the 1920s, airlines were popular, though these referred to rail companies, as were radio companies (the dot-coms of the day). In the 1960s, everything was "-onic" as transistors hit the scene. TLAs blossomed in the 1970s and 1980s, as did made-up words, often based on trademark considerations. Later .com, e-whatever, i-whatever, and Whatevr in the 2000s, which all seem dated now.

this is the most useful post I've read in a long time. thx

Mind if I ask from what perspective? Are you in charge of / do you influence product / project landing pages?

Jeez. That is like sooooo many modern websites.

What is this site? What is thingumajig.io? Its a webby thingumajig? Sign up? Sign up for what? Oh it's a website for web something.

nice font.

Haha, spot on :)

If you do this, it's best to do it in clusters of 5-10 testers in your target demographic and try to identify patterns. It's dangerous to say "UserX is confused, so all of our users must be confused." No matter how perfect your design, it will be confusing/frustrating for someone.

Totally agree. You don't need 100's just 5-10 like you said. It will be really obvious of the issues because many people will suffer them same ones.

I had not known about the Peek service, that's pretty awesome.

Does anyone know of anything like that, but that's _not_ random, where I could actually send volunteers from my current users to my sight, and have their clicks and voice recorded and sent to me? Is there such a business that works well at a reasonable price?

usertesting.com has this in it's main product (which Peek seems to be just a scaled back, lead-generation version of), but I think supplying your own testers is one of their enterprise features, which is more expensive than the normal service.

Great post but it sounds a lot like trying to sell that peek service. Would've been great to see what actions were taken to improve the site rather than wait to the new design launch.

I don't do web design but that Peek thing just looks brutal to me. It's probably a good tool though, I'd just hate to have it pointed at my work.

Ha, funny - as a startup founder (https://www.mightyspring.com), I immediately went and signed our site up for a review from Peek. Seemed insanely valuable to me.

Post the video link here if you decide to go for publicly accessible feedback.

I think I can understand what your company is about fairly easily just glancing at the first page.

A slap in the face with a wet fish can be good sometimes.

More than 10 years ago. Big conference of Web type people (not all developers but some) from Colleges and Universities in the UK, about 20 organisations represented, 50 people in the room. Disability Discrimination Act coming in. A talk organised by TechDis I remember (hazy memory of organisation details).

A profoundly blind Web developer using a screen reader with Windows steps up, with a colleague running the slides on a projector. She goes through some basic usability for non-sighted users (like http://diveintoaccessibility.info/ summary). Then she asks for a volunteer, and surfs to their College Web site live with the screen reader plugged through the PA.

"Red dot, red dot, red dot, [big list of navigation junk] Image image image image..."

You get the idea. She simply said: your Web site is telling me that you are not interested in blind students.

I think everyone present at that session went back and ran their sites through screen readers after that talk! No-one was feeling smug in the slightest.

Hey y'all thanks so much for the support!

UserTesting (the folks behind Peek) shot us over a promo code to get the first 100 of you to the front of the line if you want to give it a whirl: ramenreader

not sure where I should enter the promocode.

Have submitted my site carrotleads.com for a test though. It free anyway, so what was the promo code for???

Come on, this guy is not everything. The first link I clicked was at the bottom left: Project which brought me to https://ramen.is/projects/ramen which explains everything in detail this guy did not find and searched for. Overall, looks a fancy new kickstarter site. I care about projects not kickstarter per se, so I like the idea how the projects are presented in ramen.

>The first link I clicked was at the bottom left: Project

Well, if I was looking for information on how Ramen worked, a generic link in the footer called "Project Page", under the equally generic heading "Product" is not the first thing I would click. And if I eventually got there, and saw what looked to be a page intended for backers (it has a blurb and options to back at $2.00, $10.00, etc.), I probably wouldn't notice the "How it Works" section buried three screenfuls down the page.

You said it all: the link was at the bottom left. I rarely go to the bottom links when surfing a webpage, unless I'm really sure what I'm looking for could be there.

Primary information should not be put in a low-contrast footer, the place where you usually put things like the privacy declaration, or which company made the theme, or which CMS is 'powering' the site. The footer is a blind spot which plenty of people mentally block out because it's usually full of meaningless information.

Suffice to say, my eyeballs literally do not process the footer unless:

1) I am looking for "Contact Us"

2) I need some piece of information so badly I am willing to dig around the website for 10+ minutes, after which I will start looking at the footer, at the HTML (in case there are collapsed menus), searching Google with "site:www.thesite.com"... This level of dedication is reserved for financial institutions, and government.

You've nailed it for me, too. "About Us" and analogues for contact information, or true desperation :)

The information may be there, but if the user has to scroll to see it then that's poor UX design. I did wonder why he didn't scroll to the bottom, but still "About Us" doesn't scream "how the service works" to me. And indeed, if you click on the link you get taken to a page of smiling founders.

I got the impression that the designers were trying to be clever by integrating the tutorial into an actual project page - and going to the Ramen project explains a lot about the process. However, that's intuition from using the web a lot, not a logical step. It's the same kind of intuition that gamers have when crawling a dungeon and you know that taking the short route will almost certainly be a Bad Idea.

This backfires in another way: I also wonder if there are only four projects on the site? Can I search for more? It makes me think that the projects there are just dummy pages to demonstrate how the site works.

Regarding the last line: Ramen just launched a few weeks ago, so the projects you see are all we have right now. Good feedback on the scarcity giving you the impression that they are dummy pages. They aren't. Ramen, Benefit & Velocity Kick are very real projects. Great feedback though. We need to get more projects into the system asap. Thank you!

PS. If you wanna submit a project: https://ramen.is/project_submissions/new :-D

Great post, the video is as simple as is enlightening.

What I like the most about it is that the user is genuinely interested in the service. But he acts natural and realizes he doesn't see an easy way to get more info on it.

He could try to read the blog, or search for small print, but that's not what the average user is going to do.

I'm going to try Peek soon!

Well their main problem was they had a 2 sided market and catered to both half heartedly.

Dropbox caters to a single market and the message is more simple for them.

A "How it works" with subsection for both target market would help.

multiple sided products always have trouble selling effective messages and would like to see examples if you guys know of any.

I am doing a redesign of my site http://carrotleads.com on this topic. Was targeted at companies earlier and now I will have trouble converting network'rs. I can see the problem, but solutions need more deep thought. Working on it.

Submitted site to Peek. Want to see how it turns out.

Did you get back a video from Peek? Was it useful? I'm curious about your experience.

I did get the test back and I have already made a few changes to make discovery of companies easier.

See test link below, turnaround of less than 12 hrs. http://peek.usertesting.com/result/969590386309

Still my site will undergo a proper redesign with 2 seperate workflow's. Well that how my thinking is for now.

There's this one link at the very bottom of the page, which the Peek user kept missing, and would be the first one I would go to if I couldn't find what I was looking for: Product/Project Page. That appears to be the page that would have answered many of his questions and kept him as a customer. That should totally be at the top of the page.

However, even that's a little confusing because it is itself a project -- so a user might wonder what the heck they are looking at, site info or some other project?

It's also odd that there's no "browse all projects" or "find projects to back" option, only a few hand-curated options. No discovery options at all.

One of the Ramen founders here. We just launched a few weeks ago, so that's actually all we got right now. Feel free to submit a project if you'd like :)

Are user videos from Peek supposed to be public? I would be a little creeped out if I was the random user from this study and suddenly found my video plastered in a blog post.

Yes, the testers are paid and understand/agree that the videos can be shared publicly.

Another solution to _this_ problem might be to get your site reviewed by a conversion specialist or using some sort of heuristic review. In many cases my experience is that a combination of more qualitative methods such as user testing combined and heuristic evaluations and heatmaps and with Google Analytics solves _most_ of the issues you have with your site.

While you're getting all this traffic you should definitely put a couple of calls to action to check out your product.

Even just linking the word "Ramen" in the blog post would be a great start to get more conversions happening.

The 5 W's is something taught to all school kids at an early age -- who, what, where, when, why (and sometimes, how). Your tagline should address all of these in one simple sentence.

The "where" is often totally forgotten as well. Sometimes it still matters if a company is in US vs Europe, South America or New Zealand!

There is a website where I can put a website and watch people's reactions?

....well, I have an idea what kind of websites I will try to submit...

They've got three well known investors. How'd one of them not catch this problem?

sorry for the tangent but I remember seeing a usability site where you could get usability testing for your site by 'pay it forward' by taking other sites for a test drive

anyone know what I'm referring to?


Were you thinking of usabilityhub.com? They have a couple of different products for 'micro-usability' tests ('look at this page for 5 seconds and list things you remember' and similar). And I remember them using that model. You could pay, or be a tester to earn credit for your own tests.

Just got our peek for https://www.tinfoilsecurity.com

It was surprisingly good! No negative feedback, and only positive feedback, though the tester wasn't our target market.

Where do the testers for peek come from if it is free?

UserTesting pays members of their plan to take the test in the hopes some people find it useful enough to try out their enterprise offerings.

You lost a prospect not a customer. Big difference.

I LOVE this post. I actually did not read it since it contained something which I miss in every other blog: a TL;DR section. +1!!!

I don't understand the downvotes. Did everybody just had a bad day or completely lost their minds?

Thanks! We <3 TL;DR's too :)

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