As a young startup we’re learning a lot, moving quickly and pushing our product and messaging forward every day. That’s great; but that speed means there is a widening gulf between our actual product and sales messages, and the messaging on our website. We know from our analytics how important our website is as the first point of contact for potential customers. We’ve decided to address that gulf by redesigning our website.
So there’s 4 reasons we’re redesigning our website:
1. Initial Haste.
The original Qwilr website was essentially a nicely designed holding page with an invitation request function. The version that replaced it (our current website), was created in about 2 days in the lead up to a pitch event. The other companies at this event were raising their 3rd or 4th rounds, so it seemed like a good time for a dab of paint on the site. As a semi-hatchet job it came out nicely enough:
But the both the company and the product have evolved since then. We’d launched our beta, found early customers, received funding and taken Qwilr forward by a few quantum leaps. The website was no longer doing much justice to the product, and it was hampering the efforts of our sales team.
2. Learning our Message
No surprise for a young start-up: we got our messaging wrong the first time round. Our approach to explaining the concept of Qwilr was had been “Go big; go broad”. Instead of focusing on the very tangible, narrow and revenue generating use cases of quoting and proposals – we went for the Big Qwilr Vision: “Documents For The Web”. We got caught between the messaging that we thought investors and pitch competitions wanted to hear (that we have a big vision and product roadmap – which we still do…watch this space for a post on that) and the messaging that we needed to get our first customers (a clear, specific, tangible use case).
While “Documents For The Web” remains the true north of our product design philosophy, it tends to confuse some of our potential customers. A resounding question after visiting the website was: “OK it looks cool, but what does it actually do?”. We knew with this iteration of the site we needed to pare the focus right down to a simple and tangible value proposition.
Pare the focus right down to a simple and tangible value proposition.
3. Examples Not Explanation
Our existing website focused too heavily on the mission of the product, and not what it actually empowered users to achieve. We didn’t follow the classic story-telling advice: “Show don’t tell”. Frankly: we were expecting too much of a stranger’s attention. Using one’s own behaviour as a measure, there’s really only a very narrow window to demonstrate the value of a product before a user continues on their way. Rather than spend valuable visual real-estate establishing the problem space, we needed to focus attention on what Qwilr offers.
4. Opportunity Cost
Finally we asked ourselves: should we do this? That’s a pretty important question. In a startup-world, founders maintain a list of “Totally Critical Things That Must Get Done Right Now This Very Instant” that is totally unpruned and has to-do items on it than a hundred strong workforce couldn’t hope to finish in a year. Hence the importance of: “should we do this?”.
A Million Critical Things That Must Be Done Immediately.
Team Qwilr saw it like this: we can never win a customer who doesn’t sign up; and if a potential customer can’t understand what we’re offering, there’s no way they’re going to sign up.
To put it another way: we could spend three months building the most whizz-bang amazing feature set into Qwilr; but if our website didn’t communicate the value of those features clearly and concisely to potential users, all that time spent in feature development would go to waste, because no users would ever signup to use the app.
So after some back and forth in the board-room we decided: ‘yes, at the expense of our thousand other pressing tasks, let the re-design commence!’.
( PS: Coming Soon: Re-Designing Your Website: Stage One – Inspiration and Research )