If you’re like me, you’ve run into many occasions where you hear about a cool new website, but quickly realize you have to sign up to try it out. Screenshots (or lack thereof) make it difficult to truly get a feel for the application. Even if they do support Twitter or Facebook login, you still feel like you shouldn’t need to do that. This kind of first impression gives a subliminal feeling that not only on this one occasion will the software make you do things that are unnecessary and so you end up bookmarking the site at best and never using the app.

Don’t let this be a deterrence to your users. Design your website in a way that they can try the product out before they even have to register. They play around with it for a bit, maybe type in some junk information, maybe they even type in some REAL information. After a while they have come to their decision of whether or not they like your product. But guess what, if they typed in REAL information, you’ve already gotten them to commit to some extent. They invested time really trying out your product. It’s not much to more to ask them to sign up and pay a few dollars monthly to have that information retained next time they come back to the site.

We all try things out in the store, so why not allow the same thing online? More and more applications are providing either free trials or anonymous usage where you can try it out and then save it when you’re done.

Even with a free trial, the barrier to entry can be too much. What if the confirmation email doesn’t go through? What if they don’t remember their password last time they tried it. The level of interest a customer might have is no longer enough for them to keep trying your application. They quickly forget about it and move on.

You don’t want that.

Fluttrly was pretty much just a personal attempt at learning some Rails 3 features that I was unfamiliar with. I threw it up online and people actually started using it. I got feature requests and people wanting to merge their contributions to the site, all of this was unexpected.

It’s just another todo list. What made the difference was I let people invest their time and when they decided they liked the site, they wanted to save their list privately. Simply ask them to login or sign up then. At that point, they now have an meaningful reason to sign up.

comments powered by Disqus