About two years ago, tech investor Fred Wilson gave a presentation on the 10 Golden Principles of Successful Web Apps. If you happen to be building a web app, it’s worth taking a few minutes to watch.
As the person responsible for ensuring Zoomstra solves our customers’ problems (David is responsible for identifying and understanding what our customers’ problems are), it’s up to me to make sure we deliver on these 10 principles. Some of them are fairly straightforward, such as “#1 – Speed” (which, by the way, we have some very cool things in the works for) or “#4 – Less is More“. Others, such as “#3 – Software is Media“, apply more to consumer-focused apps than to us.
There’s one item in the list, though, that falls squarely into our camp, is critical to our success, and frankly, we’re falling flat on right now. That is “#2 – Instant Utility“. Making sure a new customer sees value out of Zoomstra right away is a make-or-break issue for us, but the nature of our application makes instant value hard to deliver.
We saw the shortcomings of not delivering instant utility during our beta program. Yes, participation has exceeded expectations. Yes, getting feedback from our beta users has enriched our understanding of what Zoomstra needs to do in ways we would never figure out alone. However, simply too many beta accounts logged in and either never created a workbook or created a workbook called “test” or “my workbook”, but never really got their content in.
The reality of our application is that we provide a publishing and distribution platform for your content. Without YOUR content, a key ingredient is missing. This is what creates the challenge to the whole “instant utility” thing.
To better understand the problem, we mapped out the process a customer must go through before seeing value:
- Learn about Zoomstra
- Identify ways they can use zWorkbooks
- Sign up for account
- Log in and figure out how to use the application
- Create first zWorkbook
- Distribute zWorkbook to participants
- Join our growing ranks of happy customers
To help future customers make it through these six steps, we’re doing several things.
We realize this isn’t scaleable, but at this point we’re taking a traditional sales approach to selling our application. By engaging with customers in a real live sales process, we gain an understanding of their problems and can identify ways Zoomstra can solve them. We can also guide them through the process of setting up their account, using the application, and creating their workbook.
Re-do our Start Screen
We’ll be launching a new start-screen soon that will guide new users through the setup process. We want to make sure you don’t get lost and it’s always clear what you need to do next.
We’ve added three consulting packages to help you get going quickly. We’re experts both in our platform and channel enablement, so we’re making our expertise available. We can get you running, with a customized workbook, distribution plan, and Zoomstra account, in about a week. If you want a completely hands-free program, we’re also offering a managed service where we handle distribution and complete account management.
In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out a series of turn-key workbooks and templates on common topics. These can be distributed right away to your audience (Instant utility! Yay!), or can be used as a starting point that you customize from to make your own.
Improve the Workbook Builder Interface
We have a series of improvements we’ll be rolling out to make it easier to build and edit workbook originals. Our goal is to not just make it easy to create workbook originals, but make it a fun, creative, and fulfilling process.
So that’s what we’ve got planned right now to help us deliver instant utility. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen. Is there something more you’d like to see us do to help you get going with Zoomstra? If so, please make a comment to this post and drop us a line!