Copywriting is a part of creating a web page that seems even to be neglected by many of the the oh-so-2.0 type sites and services of the new millennium. How hard can it be to come up with a short string of original prose? Too hard, it would seem. I’ve done a quick Google search, uncovering the sheer extent and overuse of a certain cliché.
There really seems to be a surprisingly large number of websites that offer the “easiest way” of doing something… How odd.
WipBox: The easiest way to sell on eBay or Craigslist
Justgiving: The easiest way to fundraise and donate to charity online
Picture2Life: Easiest way to edit your pictures online
Sidewalk: The easiest way to gather and analyze customer information
BillQ: The easiest way to keep track of your bills.
Spend some time to think up an original tagline, it’s not rocket science. Please.
One thing that has changed about me over the year and a half since I switched to the Macintosh platform is that I’ve found a willingness to pay for Applications. All but abolishing my previous habit of pirating Windows software (admit it, we’d all rather fire up BitTorrent than hand over cash to Windows App Devs). This is a change that I had never expected, although it can surely be attributed to a few different factors.
The Software Just Works
When it comes to advertising an OS X application, the general mindset is as follows: Show them what our product does. If they like it, they’ll want it. Macintosh applications do exactly as they say on the box (or the website, as it were). Over at the Windows camp, many companies see advertising as: Make our product look as good as possible, even if it’s not. Which is a total drain on user confidence.
Mac Developers Are Likable
In order for me to be ready to fork over my hard-earned cash to a software developer, I have to truly feel confident about doing so. I actually want to support the creators of Mac applications, because they seem so genuine. In most cases, Mac Software is developed not by monolithic, research-toting, money hungry corporations, but rather a lone developer or tight-knit group of people who are passionate about their craft. I feel as if my spending is a contribution to the livelyhood of these people, instead of “just another sale” for the faceless corporation.
I Love the Macintosh Culture
Mac people are great people. Period. You can always count on an enthusiastic and open zealot to handle your support questions personally, and a wonderful community of like-thinkers. The Mac culture (you could nearly go as far as calling it a Philosophy) is one of warmth, confidence, welcoming and support. You simply can’t buy that kind of thing.
Sure, there are a number of great Windows Applications that transcend the image of their colleagues, but certainly not to the extent of frequency in the Macintosh world.
Just a quick note; I’ve updated ColdBlue with a couple of fixes. If you’re using the theme I suggest you move to the new version.
Apologies for the frequency of posts about this one theme, I’ll resume my normal posting habits very soon.
Enjoy, and remember to let me know if you find any more bugs.
ColdBlue is a WordPress Theme created to be aesthetically pleasing, open, minimalistic and easy to use. It is absolutely free to download, however if you enjoy the theme please be considerate and leave the link intact. This courtesy will go towards further development of ColdBlue and future themes (which will always be free).
Download ColdBlue 1.2
- 1.2.0 Modified: No longer using relative font sizes (Thanks For Web Designers)
- 1.2.0 Fixed: IE font-size problems
- 1.0.3 Fixed: “Bigger child” font-size issue. Only affected nested categories in sidebar.
- 1.0.2 Modified: Screenshot and Theme directory name.
- 1.0.1 Fixed: Internet Explorer 6 Font Size (Thanks Small Potato)
- 1.0.1 Fixed: Nested pages breaking header (Thanks Small Potato)
- 1.0.1 Fixed: Technorati “Add to your Favorites” link.
en-us spelling and href.
- To align an image within a post to the left or right, give it a class of
- Valid XHTML & and bugless in modern browsers
- Subscribe to the RSS Feed to stay up to date with future releases and updates
Along with a brand new design for WebRevolutionary, I’m going to be releasing a new (free) publicly-available WordPress theme, which has yet to be named. Progress is coming along quite nicely, and I hope to have it released within the next week or so.
- Sidebar Widget Compatibility
- Better readability (scalable fonts)
- Syndication focus
- Support for Ultimate Tag Warrior and other Plugins
I’m open for any suggestions, so if you’ve got an opinion or idea, let me know.
The folks over at Reinvigorate have just pushed out an email announcing their latest endeavor.
Snoop is a downloadable application for Mac and Windows which keeps you updated on the latest user activity on your site (provided that you have an active Reinvigorate account). It features an live-updating list of recent visitors, and a really interesting method of tracking comments and even product purchases, which can be easily implemented with a little scripting knowledge.
Similar to the Mint Doorbell Pepper, Snoop features a variety of sound effects which alert you of either a new unique, returning or referred visitor, a product sale or a comment.
This little application really has boosted my confidence in Reinvigorate, and I’m sure to be as addicted to it as I was to the Mint Doorbell Pepper, at least for a week or so… *ding* Oh vanity!
OK, so I may have been to quick to judge Twitter, having never actually used it to much extent (bar creating an account). So, I’m giving it another shot.
If you’ve got a Twitter account, add me, my username is
Show me some neat things you can do with it, and help me convince myself that it’s useful. I’ll of course be announcing my mundane experience in timely Tweets, as that seems to be the norm. 🙂
The Web is dominated by a handful of behemoth services, that manage to maintain their success as copy-cat products emerge and inevitably fall. This is due to one key factor (overriding anything else) that must be present with a new online product… Uniqueness.
It doesn’t come easy however, the path to a popular Web Application is a long, windy and sometimes frightening one, but with a proper attitude and some great ideas, you too can see your product thrive. Here are some tips that I’ve either picked up from personal experience, or observed from the activity of some of the more popular online successes.
1: Identify a gap in the market
YouTube was the first video sharing service that broke out into the mainstream market, and it has remained so over quite some time. Many company executives see this success as some sort of popularity raft they can float their own site on, and we now see countless similar sites attempting to chip away at YouTube’s market share. 99% of the time these attempts end in failure, and it’s due to one key factor; there is no room in the market. YouTube was built at a time where video sharing was simply not simple nor intuitive for the general public, and through perseverance (and a virally self-promoting social edge) they eventually filled the filled the gap and reaped the inherit success. There is very little chance that any other product (in the near future) will ever replace YouTube, because simply, our needs for this are fulfilled. Instead of focusing on jumping on the video bandwagon (or any other pre-existing market), you should strive to break into the *next* open market. Nobody will want to use your service if they can already do what they want somewhere else. Try and think about what services you would like to see, something that doesn’t yet exist. Innovate, don’t reciprocate. This is absolutely fundamental to any facet of business.
2: Know your user
You should build a service in which users can relate to, and thus, you must relate to your users. Be sure to have a good idea of a typical user in your mind, and try and adopt their mindset. This step will be quite difficult if you are detached from this group, so perhaps the best thing to do is to build a product that is close to your needs, the best services are the ones helmed by a passionate creator.
3: Build a service that works
On the Web, users want to do what they want in the fastest and easiest manner possible. Your service should be clear in what it provides, and it should provide this fast. Don’t make your users jump through hoops in order to complete their task, and make things logical. Think of what a typical user will want when visiting your site, and make the path to this as short as possible. Above all, your service should do what it is advertised to do, and well. There is nothing more frustrating for a user than a poorly-executed service that is confusing to use.
4: Stay dedicated
In short. Never give up. Don’t expect to be an overnight success, and be realistic about your goals. This doesn’t mean you should undervalue yourself, but the mindset of a hopeful overnight millionaire is a dangerous one, and one that rarely yields success. Stick by your product, and see it through. Who knows, you might just get there.
5: Gain trust through design
The design of your site is representative of your service, the typical user will subconsciously decide whether they like your site within a fraction of a second. Therefore, if users can’t relate to your design,they’ll see your product as inferior. What your design should aim to acheive is to influence this slit-second decision in the most positive manner. This is possibly the hardest nut to crack, as design is such a subjective topic. It goes hand in hand with knowing your user, and a skillful Designer or Usability expert should be able to achieve this. Be sure not to pass off design as an afterthought, as embracing a solid design is vital to making your users feel like using your product.
6: Promote… Carefully
Promotion is a massive topic in itself, but I’ll be as brief as I can. People will respond negatively if your product is blatantly promoted in a “cheap” manner. That is, be subtle with your promotion, as most people don’t like being bombarded with your product. The way I see it, is that you want users to want to use your product, steer well clear of forcing people into your site. You cant just squeeze money from your visitors, it must come naturally.
7: Make money without them knowing
Perhaps the most ideal way of monetizing a service, is to make money from your users without them even knowing about it. Your service can turn around some serious dough and still have your visitors using a free service, which is a complete about-face on the traditional product model. The most popular means of this is contextual advertising, and it’s is to make your ads fit seamlessly with the content. After all, ads don’t have to be a pain to view (like those stupid flashing banners of the 90s), and you can still make a buck or two.
So, if you have a good, working product that’s well promoted, solidly designed and has a sure-fire monetization strategy, you’re well on your way to success.
There’s a very promising little app currently being developed by two young brothers which I am really excited about. It’s called Pixelmator, and from the limited information that can be obtained as yet (it’s still not publicly available), it appears to be an OS X-native Photoshop rival, sporting a super slick dark GUI and a slew of Photoshop-esque features.
Supported by the open source libraries of ImageMagick, and a skillfully crafted design, I’m beginning to wonder whether this application will be an inexpensive (perhaps free?) alternative to the resource and dollar-hungry Photoshop CS3.
I, for one, will be faithfully awaiting a public beta.
I’ve never been one to shamelessly promote a specific product, but I found myself compelled to spread the word about a little productivity-boosting app called WriteRoom (excuse the horrific pun in this post’s title). Put simply, WriteRoom blocks you from all the flashing widgets, bouncing icons and pretty colours of the OS X interface and gives you a blank “typewriter-style” page, loyally waiting to take down your notes, or record your next blog post (such as I’m doing this very moment).
It’s not just the application itself that I’m impressed with, but the whole concept of the application’s authors noticing a small problem, and solving it in a beautifully simplistic manner. One might say that WriteRoom provides you with the bare minimum of tools to facilitate your writing needs, but in doing this, you are not inclined to being distracted with formatting your document or playing around in contextual menu.
I have messed around with more writing applications than I can count on one hand, between Pages, MarsEdit, Colloquy and a few others, I felt unsatisfied. WriteRoom has truly solved *my* problem with external distraction, and I’m truly thankful.
Note: If you’re a Windows user looking for a text-editor in the same vain as WriteRoom, check out its win32 cousin Dark Room.