This week’s micro-ISV volunteer for my Weekly Site Review post is Vilmantas Baranauskas, founder of newsinjector.com.

NewsInjector modifies any PHP, Perl, Ruby on Rails, Java, ASP .NET server based application in one very specific way. With NewsInjector, a corporate system admin, PM or programmer can inject and control a stream of news announcements into a web application without modifying the underlying codebase.

NewsInjector is priced reasonably – $99 USD per application – and solves a very specific problem – how to add to a wide variety of Open Source, custom, in-house and commercial apps a flow of information from the people who administer the applications for that company to the people using these applications.

While the software looks good, the price is cheap, there’s a real problem identified, Vilmantas when he volunteered for the Weekly Site Review back in early March had yet to make a single sale. How come? In my opinion, it’s because NewsInjector neglects one critical part of a micro-ISV’s presentation to prospective customers and because it’s missing that one key element, the entire effort is wasted.

Let’s look at what’s missing and what Vilmantas can do about it.

Here’s how NewsInjector scored out – and note, from now on as several people have recommended the higher the score the better (0 is totally missing, 5 means this is very well done indeed):

What

Score

First Actionable Task

USP

3

The USP needs strengthening, but that’s not your first to-to.

Benefits/Features

4

These are fine, but need better translation into English.

Visuals

4

The tour is very good – but start with the punch line, and then explain how you got there.

Testimonials

0

Totally missing – see below.

Credibility Markers

0

Totally missing – see below.

Tech Support

1

Three email addresses don’t cut it.

Blog

0

None.

Overall Average:

1.4

This site is missing the foundation of any sale – trust.

USP

(The USP – Unique Selling Proposition – is the most important part of your site. It’s your first foot forward, you first impression and the basis for all else on your micro-ISV product’s site rolled into one.)


NewsInjector has a prominent USP – “News Management for Corporate Web Applications” – but it’s dull, lifeless. The USP is what it does, not what problem it solves, and why this solution has value. Adding a one word would provide by implication the problem and what the value of this solution is: “Simple News Management for Corporate Web Applications.”

I could go on, but the USP isn’t the big problem for NewsInjector – something else is. One thing to mention because it’s a great USP in waiting at the bottom of the home page: “Spend your time writing news. Don’t waste your time figuring out how to get them into your application.”

Benefits/Features

I like NewsInjector’s benefits and features – there’s one set for developers and administrators, one for Project Managers and Editors. This identifies the four kinds of people NewsInjector is likely to be of interest to in the corporate world.

There is one issue with the features and benefits, and just about every other section of NewsInjector: the text is almost, but not quite good English. Now let me make something perfectly clear: having the benefit of speaking and writing English for nearly 50 years, I mostly have it down. And my linguistic ability in any other language are so incredibly bad, so unspeakably awful, fellow high school and college students literally ran from the room rather than listen to me torture them further.

But still.

Statements like “News are saved on a file system as XML files.” And “It inserts news into existing web application without a need to adjust web page design or do programming.” and “Explains why NewsInjector is better than alternatives.” just don’t sound right to native English speakers.

Micro-outsourcing – outsourcing very specific tasks – is fast becoming a standard way of getting specific tasks completed. I’d suggest a very light edit by someone who does copywriting in English would be beneficial.

Visuals

I like NewsInjector’s visuals – no fluff, now businessmen shaking hands over a conference table. NewsInjector’s tour is a good example of content triumphing over programming: no ubercool YouTube video, flash movie with soundtrack – just march through using NewsInjector to get the job done.

I would suggest moving the punch line – your news showing up on the login page for XPlanner, a popular Open Source project planning application (see image below) – to first screen of the tour instead of the last.


Testimonials

NewsInjector has no testimonials – and that’s a big part of what is crippling this micro-ISV site in my opinion. Testimonials are both a way of establishing credibility and relating your product or service to who and what the market thinks it is. Let’s break that down a bit further.

When you have attributed testimonials (“This product saves me an hour a day” – Bob Walsh, http://safarisoftware.com, Sonoma, CA) you are drawing on a very powerful part of human nature – the power of the Group. Whether it’s jumping in a pool when you’re seven years old, being politically active, or buying a product most people most of the time favorably respond to being explicitly identified as part of a group of people, rather than a single isolated individual. The advertising industry has known this for about a century – you should too.

Online, groups are far more intangible – and we rely far more on reputation rather than experience. That’s why I – and probably you – give increasing credence to testimonials the more specific, the more explicit the identity of who is offering the testimonial is. Put another way, it’s far more of a “reputation loan” if a testimonial is attributed, with a link back to that person’s online presence (web site or blog).

Testimonials serve another function – they help you identify the group of people who have bought a product and whether you see yourself as part of that group. Let’s say you run a small IT department that relies heavily on Open Source apps to get the job done, but you have this problem: you need to customize half a dozen of them to show admin updates specific to the app and or your company. Which would get your attention: 5 testimonials from 5 IT managers just like you, or a testimonial from say Tom Cruise. Even if you actually believed that Tom Cruise does IT on the side, the 5 testimonials from IT managers just like you, especially if they include last name, Company URL and geographical location are going to be more persuasive.

How does a new micro-ISV get testimonials? You do a public beta, or you give away your software one license at a time by reaching out to members of your market and begging them to try it. Did I say beg? Yes, I did. Because at that stage of the game, the people who you convince to try your software and who will provide testimonials for it if asked nicely are lending you their reputations – something far more expensive and valuable than the price of your software.

However, while the lack of testimonials hurts NewsInjector, it’s the secondary problem. The primary problem is identity and the lack thereof.

Credibility Markers

NewsInjector’s biggest issue right now is the complete lack of credibility it has with potential customers because it has no identity. Outside of a tiny copyright line at the bottom of each page, there’s no information whatsoever about the company, its location, or the person or persons behind it. Just how many IT people are prepared to buy software that does something to their in production applications from an anonymous source? Zero.

NewsInjector needs a business identity: A business name, a logo of some sort but most of all an About Us page with specific information about this micro-ISV, who is Vilmantas, and his contact information (phone number, mailing address and personal email address). Now, I have no idea how hard it is setting up a small business in Germany – and I’m hampered by my lack of German. But, given what I could gleam this morning from this site, and this site and this site, it looks doable.

An anonymous company is an oxymoron, and any effort to sell software in general, let alone enterprise/business/corporate software as an anonymous company is a nonstarter.

Tech Support

Tech support is very weak – just three generic email addresses – and reinforces the lack of identity. Pull from other parts of the site info into an FAQ at the very least.

Blog

None. Normally, I’d jump up and down on my blogosphere soap box about this missed opportunity, but NewsInjector needs to focus on establishing its identity and credibility first.

Overall

The bad news is until Vilmantas and his micro-ISV have an identity, NewsInjector has no hope of getting off the ground. The good news is this something fixable. Once fixed, then Vilmantas can start taking specific steps to garner testimonials, customer success stories and the like.

+++

The Weekly Site Review is a regular feature of MyMicroISV.com. (Although I missed last week – sorry!) Please add your comments, rebuttals and opinions. If you’d like to volunteer your micro-ISV’s web site for a free public review, email me at bobw@safarisoftware.com. Micro-ISV’s only need apply!

Technorati Tags: Micro-ISV, Weekly Site Review

4 Comments

  1. A lot of typos in this review, it made it annoying to read. Please proofread better, thanks.

  2. Bob, I have some constructive critism for your site reviews. Based on reading this one and the one on e-junkie, you keep changing whether 5 is really good or really needs work. Can you please pick one, rather than me having to keep reading what 5 means?
    I know this falls under nit-picking. You are doing a great service with these reviews. If I ever get my mISV up and going, I am going to submit the site for a review.
    Its just that I can’t quickly look at the chart and see how you reviewed the site.

  3. Vilmantas Baranauskas Reply

    Hello Bob,
    Thank you for a very good review with lots of useful information.
    I already started to work on “About” page for NewsInjector. I have one question regarding it.
    I saw many people suggest being transparent, creating identity which corresponds to what you really are. Others say that you should create impression that you are a solid “professional” company even if you are a single-person shop. I believe telling the truth is the way to go. Being personal would create stronger identity, uniqueness. The question is – how much of this truth to tell, how personal I should get? For example, on your about page you tell that you love cats. I think this is OK. Should I also tell that I brush my teeth twice a day? Is there a definition of this line other than “common sense”?
    Thank you!
    Vilmantas

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