Thursday, November 08, 2007

How To Demo With Zero Barrier

When one browses to MindMeister and looks at the nicely designed page, the user will notice a nice screenshot of the service. This is not a screenshot, but an anonymous, live embedding of the actual mind mapping service. Right at the first page, you get to start messing around with things. I think all Web 2.0 apps need to provide this kind of immediate use. We can provide such a low barrier to use, with no installation, but we've really lowered the bar, so to speak. The users won't jump very high for us these days. Let them trip and fall right into our arms.

For Web 2.0 This Means...

Web-based applications need to provide an anonymous access to their application on the front page of the website. If you have a to-do application, let the user start interacting before they do anything. Even registration is a barrier to entry. Of course, if you take what they did anonymously and migrate it when they register, you get a gold star. You get two gold stars if you also keep their anonymous data around when they return with a cookie.

For Development Frameworks This Means...

Frameworks need to provide the infrastructure to do this easily. We build things in the context of a user, so sometimes there is a barrier we have to cross ourselves to provide this. Built-in ways to create anonymous uses, promote them with credentials, and expiration anonymous accounts: all will let developers provide this Siren call to users at little cost.

For Users This Means...

More choices, because I can try more things. I don't need to give out my information and remember credentials just to try out yet another twitter clone, to-do app, or mind mapping software.

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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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