Over the years I have reviewed thousands upon thousands of applications while at Tucows. Back in the day reviewing was done on personal opinion. When dealing with literally hundreds of thousands of applications, creating a rating criterion was the easiest and only way to review software. This method allowed us to convey to the author in an easy to understand way on what was either right or wrong with their application.
Going from Tucows to CoffeeCup Software gave me a unique perspective on software development. Things that I thought were important when reviewing software at Tucows is not really as important in the real world. Users do not really care that there is a repair feature for example or if there is a short-cut in a certain place. They just want easy to use software; at a reasonable price with top-notch customer support, period...
I still review a lot of software for people but what do I look for now when reviewing software? Below are some of the key items that I consider the most important and are so easily overlooked by aspiring developers.
This is determined by the features and functions of your application. If your application has more features than a standard application, this can work to your advantage. An application that offers the user the ability to accomplish more than one task such as creating a Web site and also functions as a Web server is just one example.
Look at the size of your application. Comparing yours to others that are in the same class as yours, the byte size should generally remain close. A 45mb Telnet application for example is too large !
Help is a very important aspect of the users experience with your application. If the user cannot figure out how to use it or know where to go to get help, the likelihood of the user buying your product is very slim. Some things that I look at are readme files, tutorials, and extensive help embedded within the interface. It is also good practice to offer customer support if the user cannot access online help. Providing contact information such as phone and e-mail support will help you to keep your customers happy.
This item adds value to your application. By providing this you are providing the user of your application the ability to save time and making the task effortless. What I am looking for here is the installer mechanism used, the uninstall capabilities and the repair feature as an added bonus to the user. I am not a big fan of the repair feature but I do know that Tucows offers extra review points for is, so just add it!
How usable is your application? Tips on startup, and the ability to use general keyboard shortcuts that follow the standards of other product trends. This is beneficial to your user. Control-F opens the File Menu for example.
I look at this area to see how customizable your application is in terms of functionality in allowing the user to add or remove options they need to use most.
These are applications within your application that must be installed to complete installation. In certain situation this is unavoidable, but from a user perspective these are annoying. I look at how these are included in your application . A popular thing right now is including toolbars. Tread very carefully here.
Consider the overall features of your application in terms of functionality and ease of use. Do not over complicate things.
This is an item that is considered very crucial to the sale of your application. Take into consideration the cost and overall function of your application compared to other applications of its nature.
A smooth and well designed interface can help your users use your application more efficiently; therefore take into consideration the usability of the tools and customization options within the application.
Your Web site is a reflection of your company and the quality of your application you have in distribution. Keeping business-like image with your site will let your customers know that you are providing the best services possible. Many times users will visit your site for more information about the application or to contact you regarding issues with the application. Keeping a contact us page will all information is beneficial to your company and sales.