Best website design/approach for my software sales...

Hi, I wonder if I could get a little advice with regards to the direction I should go with my website please. I'm an independant Windows software developer and I'm about to release a major upgrade of my one of my softwares "The DataSurgeon" (www.thedatasurgeon.net). Up till now, sales have been pretty thin, partly I suppose because marketing is not my strength, and also being a one-man show - I don't have a lot of time for it while trying to simultaneously do software development. Partly too, is that the software itself is sort of a multi-purpose package and I find it hard to explain it in a succinct, brief and "punchy" way (hence the reason why my current site is so wordy). It's a unique and specialized software for people who work with very large raw data files (ie. data warehouse, data archivists, IT back office people, contact list vendors/brokers, etc). It lets them (1) Easily do complex queries at a very low character-level (2) Modify/fix those found matches (3) Perform tallies and aggregates on the matches found. In effect, it does things easily that normally one would need to hire a programmer to accomplish - I guess that's my best angle here. I really don't know what to compare it to other than an easy to use "regex engine" or "grep software" without the learning curve. And again, it's much more than that.

Anyway, the existing format/layout of my website is clearly not hitting homeruns. I realize the current capture page is not the best and fanciest thing going, but I'm just wondering if I in fact need a capture page at all for trying to sell software. I realize it's not the same as selling "Rock hard abs in 30 days!", or something hypey like that.

I guess my chief questions are:

- Should I be even using a capture page, or just let viewers land straight at the "meat" of my main site?
- If I should indeed have a capture page, can you maybe steer me in the direction of a "high-converting" good template that I can utilize and modify?
- Regarding a main site - does the format of mine cut it, design-wise?
(http://thedatasurgeon.net/main-grep-regex-regular-expression-find-search-and-replace-software.html)
- Maybe my main site is just too "wordy" and full of technical explanations (I *CAN* do that at times). Would I be better off just showing a very brief and broad animated "explainer" video, as opposed to a feature-demo video which I now have? Or maybe an "explainer" video on the capture page, then a more detailed demo video in the main site. I just don't know...
- Along that vein - would a more modern (and less wordy) scrolly-type website in that current and trendy "parallax" style be a better choice?


As you can see, I'm just not sure what my site presentation and structure should be for best success in the software marketplace. Any advice would be most welcome!!


Thanks!
  Shawn
shawn857Asked:
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Omar SoudaniSenior System EngineerCommented:
Hello Shawn,

What is your CRO (Ratio between visitors and buyers)? Sometimes you need to consider a marketing campaign.

Back to the website design and some other tips:

1) clear headline
2) Add social media icons (Your twitter account, facebook page ...etc)
3) Add Testimonials ( This is very important)
4) Use pictures and videos.
5) Make your website colors fancy.
6) All important information should be visible without scrolling down.
7) You can add a slider to make the website alive. (Put Testimonials or pictures in it)
8) Make discounts! (Weekend discount, Christmas discount...etc)
9) Every time you update your software, say it! What did you add, bug fixes ...etc
10) Make comparisons with other competitors.

Hope this helps,

Good luck,
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
>  I'm just not sure what my site presentation and structure should be

I think you need to modernize!  

Instead of trying to be a designer/web developer, use a ready made site from https://www.weebly.com/, https://www.wix.com or https://www.squarespace.com  All of those options are hosting/templates ready to go. Just plug in your logo and content. Wordpress/Joomla/drupal are options as well and there are plenty of themes built for them. Themeforest, templatemonstor etc all have ready made themes.  However, the learning curve will be more for those sites and your effort is best left to just posting content.'

All of those options will have a more modern looking feel as well as being responsive (mobile ready/first).  

On your example video, if you can, I would suggest cropping so you only see the program and not the fact you are using windows XP as that adds to making it look dated.  

I think you can lead with a few good screenshots to tell your story but still keep the video. The screenshots will allow the use to very quckly get an idea of how easy it is to extract data without using regex.

There are are lot of frustrated people that are trying to use regex.  You may want to include some good article content on using regex that also talks to your software.  That can help searchers that think they are looking for one thing find another.

> Should I be even using a capture page, or just let viewers land straight at the "meat" of my main site
This will depend on if you are doing any advertising.  If you are, then you want to experiment with multiple landing pages that can change colors, content and offers to test what gets people to sigin up/buy.

To be fair, your regex software competition is not much different https://www.regexbuddy.com/ or http://www.ultrapico.com/expresso.htm.  The design here is old looking.  Using one of those first three sites, it would be very easy to bring the look up to date.  

You may also want to look at just using a landing page site like  https://www.leadpages.net/, https://ontrapages.com/ or https://landerapp.com/.... these will be easy to set up and include marketing features you will want to use for testing different options.
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shawn857Author Commented:
Thank you for the feedback guys...


Omar: My ratio between visitors and buyers is a very good question and one which I do not have a concrete answer for you. I can however tell you, that it would not be very good. With regard to marketing, I have about $80 credit remaining on a Google Adwords coupon that I am hanging onto to advertise The DataSurgeon with... once I get everything finished up for it (website, landing page, Users manual, etc). This will be interesting.
  Thanks for the 10 "bullet points" of things to improve. Many of them I can do!


Scott: Well, i don't really have a lot of extra cash to splurge these days on paid site-builders like Wix and Weebly. I do have enough HTML/CSS skills that I can cobble together my own given a decent template. I'm hesitant also to dive into all that Wordpress/Joomla/Drupal stuff - that is all new and Greek to me and that in itself would take time to get up to speed with.
  Good point about keeping XP hidden in the background. No one needs to know I'm a dinosaur.
  Yes, I have looked at those other regex-helper sites and they too are old looking. But I wouldn't say that they are *really* my direct competition. My software is very different than that. They market mostly to the hardcore techies, while I hope to target the folks who couldn't be bother with all those hieroglyphics. Mine hides all that difficult stuff and lets the user just basically point-and-click. To be honest, I don't know who would be my direct competition. I floated around the idea of trying to sell my software package as some kind of easy-to-use "Fifth Generation Language" kind of thing, in order to emphasize it's "all-in-one" querying/modifying/summation prowess... but maybe that's overly ambitious there.
  Checked out Leadpages.com and the other two sites... again, I'm not keen on a paid thing right now, but also, in browsing through their collection of templates (each site has about only 100), none of them really grabbed me.
  Having giving it some thought, I think my best (and fastest) approach right now is to just create a nice new landing page (or 2, if I want to A/B test). Keep my current "main" site and neaten/shorten that up accordingly. I think it would just be too long a job to create a whole new site altogether from scratch... perhaps later if this approach yields nothing.

What I have in mind as a landing page is something like shown here:


http://www.designyourway.net/diverse/5/socialproof/slack_com.jpg


To me, that's just about bang-on to what I envision:

- a large picture in the background (ideally, kind of on the darker side... and something high-tech to reflect my business). "Hero Image"?? is that what they call it now?
- A play button to launch my hopefully-brief new explainer video.
- And a short subscriber form to let them immediately subscribe to get more info and downloadable demo at my main site.

Another good design is the one I see at the Bing Ads login page here:

https://secure.bingads.microsoft.com/LoginVersion/2

The pic would need to be something appropriate for my biz of course, but I like the layout in general. And when you scroll down, I really like the big bold simple areas to outline main features and selling points... testimonials and such. I like that one a lot. If I could find a landing page template to combine the components and basic look of top fold of the "Slack" capture page, and the bottom parts of the Bing Ads one... I think I'd really have something. Would you happen to know of any free template sites where I could grab one like that?



Thanks!
  Shawn
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
You can look at sites like themeforest.net or templatemonstor.com where you will pay $20 to $100 for a template that will save you many hours do do on your own. Though you may still need to purchase rights to a photo.

Those examples you posted are are more modern looking and in the case of the MS Bing site, they are using https://getbootstrap.com/ to take care of the responsive grid. If this is not something you have done in the past, it takes some learning curve to wrap your head around as you are designing 2 to 4 different versions of your page at once (tiny screen/phone, small screen/tablet, desktop 1000px, desktop 2000px).  If you go back to the bing site, notice if you narrow or widen the browser things automatically reconfigure, that is what the css responsive grid in bootsrap helps with.

Many templates you will find on those template sites will use Bootstrap. Some try and disguise it or create their own grid, I suggest staying away from those as it causes issues later.

Keep in mind the sites I pointed to are only $20 to $30 per month and everything is already done for you.  Your time is worth something and you will end up putting in a lot more of it than you save by creating your own.  

If I have your product for 3 years, that will generate $225.  If you only generated one new customer per week, that's over $11,000.  Your talking about investing less than $250 per year for that.  Then with your Google account, my own experience is the $100 credit you get is not enough to generate the quantity of traffic needed to get a purchase.  Then it looks like adwords didn't work.  The key there is you have to think of the life time value of your product per customer.   If that's 3 years and $225, then how much of that $225 are  you willing to pay to get the sale?  At first it will be high and lower as your momentum builds.  

Assume your click through rate is 2% and your average cost per click is $2 and 3% of your traffic converts.  That puts your cost per sale (cost per action) between $60 and $70.  My own experience is this is not linear. In other words if these metrics are for hundreds of initial clicks, they will not be the same for a few.  Your cost for acquisition will be much higher if you buy lower amounts to start with.  Trying to bootstrap off the $100 coupon does not typically end up as expected. But that is a whole other discussion.  https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/adwords-bechmark-data

Best of luck to you.
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shawn857Author Commented:
Thank you for the well-thought out response Scott... and I know I *should* take the plunge for $30 or so a month for a proper pre-made site, but at the this moment I just can't swing another monthly payment. I'm going to muddle through with a landing page template I found to hopefully rustle up some sales and get a feel for the demand (if any) out there for my product. Hopefully it will warrant me moving to a professionally-designed website and landing page in the near future. Thanks!

Cheers
    Shawn
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shawn857Author Commented:
I don't see where to award points and close this question out....
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Hi Shawn,
There's a new closing process. This EE support article explains it:
How do I close my question?
Regards, Joe
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shawn857Author Commented:
Thanks Joe. Don't mean to give negative feedback but this new closing out process is bad. Baffling and not straightforward. Just my feedback...

Thanks
   Shawn
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Hi Shawn,
Many folks agree with you. EE is well aware of the problem and is working to fix it. There are two recent threads where this has been actively discussed:

https://www.experts-exchange.com/discussions/220483/endorsement-vs-helpful.html
https://www.experts-exchange.com/discussions/220484/2-April-2018-Release-Notes.html

Feel free to weigh in with your opinion at one or both of those threads. EE is definitely paying attention to member feedback on this issue. Regards, Joe
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