Founder's blog

Describing Your Product

Jan 20 2011 :: by Alex
All you have is one or two seconds of the visitor's attention while he "scans" your landing page. Because - remember? - "users don't read, they scan". Those one or two seconds is all you have. One or two seconds to answer the two ultimate questions of a product description:
  1. What the heck am I looking at?
  2. How is it different from the others?

#1. What Am I Looking At?

  • Describe the problem your application handles.
  • Do it again, but this time - use a pen and paper, this will give you a physical constraint that will save you from lengthy amounts of unreadable bullsh*t. The description should be neat and precise.
  • Shorten the description twice. Giving your customer a verbose redundant booklet is another way of saying "I don't value your precious time, so read this zillion-pages brochure then call me back".
  • Shorten that again by 50% by removing all the "smart" and "professional" words. Don't try to sound like a corporate droid.
  • Throw it all away
Start from scratch and describe it in five (5) words. Simple words, not some "automation through collaboration and innovation" crap. Your customers won't be googling for "automation through innovation". Surprise - they won't even be googling for that genius brand name you came up with last night (I know a loh-ot of founders who first name their product "Abracadabra" and then start optimizing their websites for "Abracadabra", as if someone will actually be searching for that).

Instead, your customers will google for the term that describes their problem or for something that is assumed to handle the problem. Your goal is to find that assumption. Use Google Trends, use the AdWords keyword tool (joining AdWords is not free, but the tool is worth it), buy some keyword research, ask your friends, your ex/present coworkers. Ask you wife and kids.

Ask your parents! You were wondering, who are those people who still use IE6? It's them.

Then find the description that suits best. That gives a clue even after a short glance at your webpage. That's the first step.

#2. How is this different?

The next step is describing how is your product different from your competitors. Again - in five simple words. That should be easier, if you have the difference. If not - add one. If you can't - make it up. Being different is not always having a unique killer feature, it can be a different licensing or pricing model, a different distribution channel.

Another way to find the difference is to find something that you hate about your competition. This is what 37signals do - they claim Microsoft Project to be a bulky, complex piece of software, overloaded with features. Their difference is simplicity. Find yours.

That's what we did with our Web-based Helpdesk and the Small Business CRM - we made it unlimited. Same price for any number of users.

Of course if your product is something new, that can't be easily described and has no competitors, you're in trouble. But don't start with a product that has no competition. No competition means - no demand. I'm not saying you should stop creating a brand new "never-before" product. I'm saying - it should not be your first product. Before creating a niche - gain some expertise in the existing ones.

Even if you're building a "me-too" product, it should be different. In some way. Any way. Find it and put it on the landing page in bold.

'Describing Your Product' was written by Alex by Alex. CEO, founder