After taking a few weeks break to attend to other matters, it’s time to get back into the game! This week’s microISV volunteer for my Weekly Site Review post is Ronald Northrip, founder of RNSoft.

RNSoft has two related products. The first, rssDreamFeeder, ($49 to $79 USD) integrates RSS feed creation into the site building and maintenance process for web designers whose use Adobe Dreamweaver as their design environment. The second, RSS Replay, ($29 to $59 USD) makes it a simple matter to integrate RSS feeds into your Dreamweaver-created web site.

When Ron volunteered for the Weekly Site Review, he was more than a bit worried that his microISV’s two products were too specialized – after all, only serious web developers who use Dreamweaver are going to be interested in these two products. Ron, you are right on track! The more specialized your market, the greater your opportunity to be relevant to them and the easier it is to find, define and connect to your market.

Ron is delivering is solving two real problems that cause real pain for people who need that pain to leave: that’s a great business to be in. While Ron’s product line’s fate is tied to the fate of Dreamweaver that’s a fair bargain for clarity of market it provides. The risk here for Ron – and every developer of software or services that enhance a better known product – is that one fine day the Elephant shifts a foot to the right and renders your product(s) obsolete.

Unfortunately, RNSoft’s site needs a big whooping dose of clarity before it starts working the way it should. Here’s how RNSoft.com scored out – the higher the score the better (0 is totally missing, 5 means this is very well done indeed):

What

Score

First Actionable Task

USP

0

Add to site.

Benefits/Features

2

Rewrite – beware rhetorical questions – they bite back.

Visuals

0

At least one product screenshot! Not an image in sight.

Testimonials

0

Buried – quote your reviewers prominently.

Credibility Markers

2

Very weak.

Tech Support

4

A good selection of information

Blog

2

Needs more entries and be less a product blog.

Overall Average:

1.4

This site needs major work to be effective.

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 microISV product’s site rolled into one.)

RNSoft’s home page is a collection of rounded corner boxes – in fact the entire site is a collection of rounded corner boxes. Now I like RCB’s as much as the next Web 2.0 guy, but this is a case of adopting the form and missing the function.


What’s the first thing you saw when you looked at RNSoft’s home page above? The yellow RCB cart. Because it’s yellow and everything else it white and we’re hardwired to react to differences first. What a wasted opportunity! There’s plenty of time later for your customers to purchase – your first job is to give them a clear, compelling reason to not hit the Back button – and that’s what a USP is for.

Here’s a quick hack of RNSoft’s home page I hope illustrates this point:


Benefits/Features

Rhetorical questions are an awful way of introducing features, let alone benefits. Look at it from the prospective customer’s point of view. You find this RNSoft you’ve never seen before. The first thing it does is hit you up for money. The next thing it does is ask you a bunch of questions – questions you have no intention of answering, because halfway through that list you are looking for the exit and finding it.

RSSDreamFeeder is actually a very cool product – among other things, it has a built in search engine that build the feed for you (which you can easily edit) based on the changes you make in the site. Now that’s a very nice feature, and the basis of a great benefit (get the job done fast), but it’s buried on the jump page for the product.

Here’s what you want to see happen on your home page – Your USP immediately is relevant to the person who just got there – or it’s not and no harm done. Your benefits back up the USP and your features back up your benefits.

You say: “RSSDreamFeeder makes it fast and easy to build an RSS feed for your site.” They think: Oh yeah, right, prove it! You say: “It uses a custom search engine to build the feed based on what’s changed and then you can edit it before it goes live.” They think, “that sounds credible: tell me more.” And so on as you build your case that your product is relevant to their pain.

Visuals

Zip. Nothing there. Not a screen shot, not a print out of RSS, nothing. Worse, since when has the RSS logo turned St. Patrick’s Day Green? A sceenshot is a must have – it’s not “eye candy”.

In fact, I would strongly suggest a web site makeover is in order. Given that RNSoft is selling to web designers, a visually appealing site is a must have.

Testimonials

None to be found, at least that’s what I initially thought. The “Articles” page is actually a lost gold mine of testimonial ore – but who is going to find it?

Credibility Markers

The money back guarantee is nice – but needs to be reworded. The Articles page suggests you’ve gotten some very good reviews – but they’re buried.

Unfortunately, two things detract from this site’s minimal supply of credibility. “Deals” are all over it – the first item on the menu, featured product of the week, deal of the week, etc. I’m all for deals – but first you have to establish the worth to me of what you’re selling, otherwise it’s just noise.

Speaking of noise, there’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance right smack in the middle of the home page: rssdreamfeeder vs. RSSDreamFeeder. Which is right? Either one – but only one – everywhere.

Tech Support

This section of RNSoft is actually very good. RNSoft displays top issues with solutions, a couple of pages of solutions in general, a list of reported bugs and you can browse though all issues. I’d like to see some of the items from the tutorial page here, but don’t worry about that for now.

Blog

Ron has started a blog which is a good thing, but it needs more than two entries and to lay off talking about his products. Product blogs are boring! Instead, Ron can talk about – and cite instances of – the advantages, value and challenges of RSS, particularly retrofitting RSS to static web sites. That’s what will get the attention of his market.

Overall

RNSoft has a good story to tell, a well-defined market, solutions to real pain. But what it doesn’t have is a web site with a clear USP, information (text and graphics) that backs up that USP in the form of clear benefits, comprehensible features and credible supporters.

+++

The Weekly Site Review is a regular feature of MyMicroISV.com. Please add your comments, rebuttals and opinions. If you’d like to volunteer your microISV’s web site for a free public review, email me at bobw@safarisoftware.com. MicroISV’s only need apply!

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3 Comments

  1. Joske Vermeulen Reply

    You use ‘cognitive dissonance’, but I do not think it means what you think it means. Cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon where people ignore certain facts or observations that contradict their pre-conceived conception or world view. You may be thinking of ‘multiple personality disorder’ or something in that line.

  2. bobw Reply

    No – cognitive dissonance is what I mean – “the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time” the confusion in spelling the product name is a very minor issue, but it is an issue and something to avoid inflicting upon prospective customers.

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