By Bob Walsh

As of today, I’m starting a new feature here at MyMicroISV, a weekly review of a micro-ISV web site. The sites I’ll be reviewing are property of microISV’ers who has volunteered to let me critique their web site in public.

Today’s victim volunteer is Dmitry Chestnykh whose micro-ISV Coding Robots has just released BlogJet 2.0, a Windows desktop blogging editor. The URL for the site is: http://blogjet.com.

I’m doing these reviews for three reasons:

  • At ESWC’06, the session Dave Collins led doing just this sort of thing was extremely popular.
  • Your micro-ISV web site will make or break your sales – it, and the value of your product, largely determine your success.
  • My site desperately needs a major overhaul: applying what I’ve learned over the years and in researching and writing MIVR is a great way to sharpen up my skills for when I apply them to my micro-ISV’s sites. J

For this first review, I’m focusing on the six things I think are most important for a micro-ISV web site to get right. Let me know what you think.

Site Review Monday:
http://blogjet.com/


The USP:

The Unique Selling Proposition, a.k.a “the elevator pitch” should be the first thing the visitor sees, communicates the value of the product and must immediately be relevant to the visitor.

At BlogJet’s new 2.0 site, the USP is “Posting screen on Steriods. Now better than ever. BlogJet is a blog client for Windows that allows you to manage your blogs without opening a browser.”

The USP is present, but definitely not clear. “Posting Screen” is a weird way to talk about a blog editor. “Now better than ever.” than what? Presumably version 1.0. The next sentence, “BlogJet is a blog client for Windows that allows you to manage your blogs without opening a browser.” is a good start, but it’s not at the top.

I’d recommend a new USP something like the following: “BlogJet 2 is a Windows blog client for managing multiple blogs, with features no web-based blog editor can match.”

Here’s why:

The sooner you differentiate your product, the quicker you connect. BlogJet is not for Mac users, not for bloggers who insist on doing everything online and not for casual bloggers content with whatever interface their blogging system provides. Those people are never going to buy BlogJet. By its nature BlogJet is a tool for serious bloggers using and comfortable with Windows applications who want more than what they already have.

A good USP should have a clear path to the next steps: credibility and action. Credibility – backing up your USP with benefits and facts about your product. Action – Buy it or Download it. (With a good USP, 5-10% of your sales will come from people who so strongly connect with USP that they immediately buy it.)

BlogJet’s site puts Action (Buy or Download) first, but then goes into 17 features in a three column spread: big mistake.

Benefits and Features:

As developers we’re used to thinking about software as a collection of features. But as micro-ISVs we absolutely need to think about what benefits and to who those features provide. Given what BlogJet is, its market segment are those bloggers who want or need to create posts, often for more than one blog, with certain advanced features they can’t get online. But this feature buffet doesn’t buttress that marketing position.



Instead of a feature dump, I would group these features into implied benefits that tie directly back to what the USP should be. For example here’s a benefit/feature group:

Advanced features a serious blogger needs: [the benefit]

Auto Replace snippets save you time inserting affiliate links, URLs, taglines and anything else you frequently type. [feature]

Post across Blog engines. Do you have a TypePad, Blogger, Drupel and a WordPress blog? BlogJet can post to any one of 28 popular blogging engines. What’s more, you can take a post for one blog and repost it for another with two clicks. [feature]

Flickr and YouTube Support. You can find, select and insert a Flickr photo or a YouTube video in three clicks. [feature]

There’s another, deeper issue here. Before you start claiming benefits and enumerating features, you need to establish some credibility with your prospective client. Overly prominent Feature lists are one of the most frequent mistakes you’ll find on micro-ISV web sites.

Nor are the feature blurbs particularly well written. Example:

Drafts: If you are on the road and there is no Internet connection, or if you want to finish your post later, save it as draft. Then you can get back to finishing and publishing it.
Better:

Drafts: You can save posts as drafts to your PC and post them to your blog later with one click.
Burying BlogJet’s most powerful feature – being one editing tool supporting multiple, disparate blogs – does not serve the product well.

Visuals:

The one saving thing Coding Robots got right is their great Flash demo. This demo sells the app. It whips through six major features areas of BlogJet: formatting, pictures, video, tagging, editing posts and instant search in about 4 minutes, 30 seconds.

tore-0063.jpg
Here’s what makes this Demo so compelling:

  • It does not try to explain features! When for example a photo is inserted in the post being worked on, the demo doesn’t bog down in how each of the 17 options in the photo dialog box works; it clicks the insert photo button, picks a photo and inserts it. The purpose of this demo, rightly, is to sell the product, not explain every little control and option.
  • It’s rehearsed and polished. It’s clear that someone new exactly what they wanted to demo here. No wasted motions, no pauses. Using different transitions to reset the scene gives the demo a clean, believable professional feel.
  • No voiceover! There’s a generic classical piece for the audio, and that’s it. And that’s wise – a voiceover – especially a Russian speaking English is in all likelihood is going to be distracting from the message that BlogJet is easy and powerful. Voiceovers are hard – professional voiceovers take a great deal of skill and talent to write and produce, precisely because a really good voiceover disappears from the listener’s active awareness. Unless you know you are gifted speaker or you’re prepared to spend some serious ($5k and up) money producing your Demo, skip the voiceover.

Credibility markers:

Credibility markers are what I call all the small and not so small ways you establish a connection with your prospective buyer. Testimonials, trial versions, a visible privacy policy, the availability of support, the availability of a blog are all credibility markers and have a cumulative effect.

BlogJet has all the above, which is good. The testimonials come right after the demo (one of the 6 is ahem, a quote from me.), reinforcing that the demo is worthy of belief.

Handling the Money:

No matter how good your product is, if prospective customers are leery of your payment processing, you are going to lose some – perhaps all – of your sales. A company like Coding Robots which is based in Russia has to go further and work harder than American companies who are more trustworthy (like Enron??) when selling to American and European customers.

This site does this extremely well: The buy page has the five statements every buy page needs:

  • 30 day money back guarantee.
  • Encrypted, secure order process.
  • Instant delivery.
  • Recoverable license (This is especially a good point with your more savvy online buyers.).
  • What are you buying (in the case of BlogJet, “All listed prices are one-time fee. They include free minor version updates. Registered users will also receive considerable discounts on major updates.”

As for the actual processing, Coding Robots do a smart thing: they outsource. In this case to an ecommerce company called cleverbridge based in Germany and the US. Now I don’t know a thing about this ecommerce provider, but they are a (supposedly) separate reputable company and that credibility rubs off favorably on BlogJet.

There is one issue with http://blogjet.com/order/?bti=main_top – there’s a typo in the statement, “Registered users will also receive considerable discounts on major updates.” You don’t want typos in your web site (or ahem, blog) but you especially don’t want typos on your Payment page! Whether English is your mother tongue or not, have someone proofread your pages, and make sure they do a proper job of it.

The Blog:

For a blog editing tool, a blog is a must have, and BlogJet’s blog is adequate, but could be improved. On the plus side, Dmitry and his micro-ISV partner Vladimir are posting about new features and bug fixes, and customers are commenting on those posts. On the minus side, fewer off topic posts and more posts about the problem domain of the product (Blogging) would be a good idea.

Conclusion:

All in all, this is a good micro-ISV site, but there are some things that need fixing.

The demo and the testimonials go a long way to redeeming this site, but a much stronger USP, moving the demo and testimonials up and then talking about benefits supported by features would make this a better site with very little effort.

Dmitry and Vladimir have a great product in the form of BlogJet, and I strongly feel the spending a bit more time improving their web site’s message will give this excellent product the public face it deserves.

Thanks to Dmitry for letting my critique BlogJet here at the MyMicroISV Monday Site Review.
[tags] SiteReview, micro-ISV[/tags]

3 Comments

  1. Hi Bob,
    You took me by surprise. Having used Blogjet as your illustration of the right way to do a micro-ISV website in your book, I was expecting more of the same. It’s great that you’ve found new things to say on Dmitry’s updated pages, I think you’ve given some great insights here and I’m looking forward to more in the series. Also, luckily for me, your review coincides precisely with me putting together my first product pages.
    Jim

  2. Bob, thank you for this review!
    I’m now testing various variants of heading and description via Google Website Optimizer, some of them I directly took from this review 🙂 Let’s see how it performs. I will post an update on this when we have enough statistics.

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