Let’s get one thing out of the way, really the key thing to understand for anyone making a website, web app, SASS, online shop, whatever:

No one wants to use your app.

They want to solve a problem, and yours is probably one of tens (if not hundreds) of available solutions.  The first and most easily accessible hubris for anyone trying to take an idea to the web is the assumption that if we built it, they will come.

They’re not coming.

And once they get there, more than half will probably bounce.

Here are a few thoughts on things to consider to help get that bounce-rate down, and retain the users that don’t immediately leave.

They don’t want yet another user account JUST to use your service.  That’s one more login/password to remember (read: forget), and is often perceived as more spam.  Give options like using Facebook, Twitter, or Google to authenticate, OR if you can get by with just using an email and giving the user the option to forego an account entirely, even better.

Invest in your branding.  Even the untrained-eye is going to get bad vibes from unkempt branding- logo, colors, visual standards, etc.  Unless it all works together to create a memorable experience, it’s not going to build trust and create something that people feel good about using.

You are not your feature-set.  Be single-minded, make something that is more than just a list of features strung together with some tables and few thousand lines of code.  Sum up your solution in a single sentence, put it on your homepage, make that your mantra, stay the course.  Ideas are cheap, but focused, strategic implementation is killer.

Tell  me what to do.  I’m on your site because you promised me a solution.  So from the get go I want to be told what to do, where to go, why this is awesome, and finally how to get it.  Then follow tip #1 and give me my choice of how I get it, then once I’m in, tell me what to do.  It would be great if your idea was so universally resonant that everyone just “got it” instantly, but you’d be surprised how comforting a “Get Started” screen can be in making me feel right at home in a new app.

In conclusion- no one wants to use your site, so you have to fight for each conversion.  Reduce barriers, reduce friction, increase focus and point me in the right direction, and I’m yours.

Published 11/18/11 by Ian Wilson