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your software sucks because its ugly

March 2, 2006

There I said it. I really hate being the one to have to tell you this. I don't like being the bearer of bad news, but it's best you come to this realization now while you still have time to fix it.

See if there's one thing I've learned while starting this business it's that first impressions are practically the only thing that matter. A great first impression sucks your clients into your software making it much harder for them to escape. A bad first impression gets them running back to Google.

What comment do I get more than any other? "Wow, HelpSpot is a beautiful product. All the other help desk software we looked at looks like it was designed by a programmer." heh!

It's only later, usually after they've purchased that I hear about specific features they like or how it's helped them become more efficient, etc.

The take away here is that your software sucks in the eyes of the customer if it looks bad. I really believe that. Now don't get me wrong, you don't have to have a perfect looking product. HelpSpot isn't perfect, it's not as nice as Basecamp or other web 2.0 products which are more visually attractive. However, it is much nicer than most of the competition in my market. So after potential customers have looked at 4 flat grey background help desk products and they come to HelpSpot and see some colors and some borders they think it's the best thing they've ever seen.

So before you launch your product think about how the screenshots on your website are going to look, think about how your app will feel if someone installs it after one of your competitors apps, focus on making the design a strategic advantage of your product.

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