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Software Development Tips: Part 2

Last month, I talked about simple methods that you can use to greatly enhance your application. This month, I want to discuss a few other items that are just as important to your application — your website, and your product price.

First, we need to look at your website. This is where your potential customer will most likely get their first impression of you, your company, and your product. I have seen many sites out there that seem to go out of their way to make it difficult for users to find a download link or a purchase link, while seeming to instead concentrate more on flashy graphics. While a flashy website with java effects and animated banners may look appealing, they can actually have a negative effect for users, and especially if they prevent the user from finding what they really need. Don’t fall into the trap of using too many images, buttons, and graphics. I have seen far too many sites, with far too many broken images, which made the sites very unattractive and even un-usable. Using standard HTML for all your links can provide many benefits:

Your website should be clean and simple. You can still have all the bells and whistles — just make sure that the two most important options, Download and Buy Now, are easily found. All too often, we see people add more and more fluff to their websites, in hopes of making the site more visually appealing. Unfortunately, they often sacrifice the very items that they most want their visitors to click on – the Download or Buy Now options.

The next issue to look at is pricing. If you have not yet researched what your competitors are doing, you need to do that now. Knowing what everyone else is doing and selling will help you determine what you should (or shouldn’t) be doing or selling. If you have a product that you are charging $59 for, while the rest of the industry is charging only $49, then you have a potential problem. Unless you are the #1 application in your category, you shouldn’t charge more then everyone else. Charging more than other competing applications can work, and has for some, but you need to objectively look at your program and decide if your customers will find enough extra value to justify spending the extra money. Are people willing to pay a premium for your application? If your sales are in a slump, and you are not sure why, this might be a good time to re-evaluate this.

My best suggestion to everyone is to be competitive and offer something to users at a fair price. Go for the volume. If you can get 100 times more sales at a lower price, that could still be a good thing. We always tend to shy away from lowering our prices because it does look like it will harm our end result.

Another no-no I have seen lately is the concept of instant rebates. Don’t offer a product for $300 and then offer an instant rebate of $275. Yes, this may sound strange to some of you, but I see it all the time. And even though the instant rebate will reduce the actual price to just $25, your customer may subconsciously only notice or remember that initial $300 price tag, and may then decide to look for something cheaper elsewhere.

Creating a program used to be all about compiling and then placing it online via your website. But now we have to examine many additional aspects of the marketing process. We can no longer afford to just place a link on our site; we need to go out and generate the customer traffic, and make the users want to buy our programs. Examining this information, and deciding whether or not it is right for you, is just another step in making yourself a successful shareware developer.