The following is a summary of the process leading up to the decision on the Action Statements. This is driven by a single statement describing the role of the new home page: "Increase Downloads"
All of the following was coloured by that single requirement.
As the old saying goes "You can take a Horse to water but you can't make him drink"
And therein it seems, lies much of our problem.
There is I believe a confusion of goals at the homepage.
We are getting people to the download page but that is not the end goal. You have to give the horse a reason to drink, Either, make him thirsty, make the water desirable beyond his need for water or wait till he is thirsty before you take him there.
The three pillars of Marketing
- Create a need
- Create a desire
- Fill a present need
Right now we do none of these well, we simply shove the Horse at the trough, only to make it doubly difficult, we blindfold him, block up his nose and force him to sup it through a straw after he has learned that drinking some types of water.will be bad for him.
People come to a website for two main reasons
- To solve a problem
They will leave for more reasons:
- Their curiosity has been satisfied and they leave informed
- They find a solution to their problem
- They can't satisfy that curiosity within a reasonable time and they leave
- They can't find the solution or it is not obvious and they leave frustrated
- Fear of the unknown.
These people, both the curious and the problem solvers fit into five basic Groups, (This is from a marketing POV)
- Casual Curious (These people know little about OOo but an adword or a Google ad or something on the web piqued their curiosity and they clicked a link. In recent ad campaigns these people were sent to the Download page:refer Thirsty horses!)
- Upgrader: These people are returning to download the latest version of OOo because they already have it on their computers and they like it
- Users Needing Help
- Extenders: They come to get more stuff to enhance their OOo experience
- Contributors: Either cash or code contributors, people who want to contribute to the project in some way.
The answer is 42 so what's the Question
There are questions that are asked in subtext or subliminally by both webpage Authors and Users. By the simple act of putting a page full of links the Author is asking the new arrival "What do you want to do now"
At the moment of arrival, the Client's first question is to himself or noone in particular: "What do I do now?"
Our problem is right now, and the discussions up to this point are reinforcing this point, we are not providing them with the answers to the questions THEY are asking. We inform them where to download but the most likely question a new arrival is asking after "what now?" is "Why?", but we don't give them information that will make them feel comfortable about hitting the download button, or to stretch our metaphor a bit further, we talk to our horse about the trough but not about how good the water is, while the horse is still worried about drowning..
So I've put together a draft of a front page continuing on the simplicity idea which I'm a fan of. The difference is that we provide "Answers to the Question"
"You have arrived at OpenOffice.org what would you like to do now?"
Bring on the Action Statement
The statements allow people to relate to an action. In other words there is no "Yes or No" decision to be made that is required by a question. People are naturally conservative, it's an instinctive defense mechanism.
Faced with the question "Do you want to do something with an unknown thing that will lead to an unknown result?" the automatic response is "No"
Questions are demanding. They demand a response. The auto defense mechanism will answer in the negative.
So instead of requiring a black or white answer to a question we substitute a statement of action to which the user can relate, an answer to the automatic subliminal question: "What now?"
The traditional method only gives people more questions which require a decision making effort. What the Action statement method does is provide answers.
And when it all comes down to it that's what we seek, not questions, we want answers.
The action statements don't demand the new user does something, they create an idea that the New User can relate to, but at the same time they don't ask questions or make demands that could result in a "No" answer.
Basically the new arrival will "rank" the statements in level of importance to them. There is no refusal option The sell comes further into the site.
The simplicity means that it is easily changeable. The down side of the present homepage is that it keeps people here too long and it tries to be all things to all people.
It all comes down to .....
Louis' stated requirement early on in this process was for the new homepage to "Increase Downloads". Obviously, the present "All Things to All People" approach would not work for that and focussing everything on the marketing would be detrimental to the other constituencies.
For the desired goal the action statements direct the casual new client to the Why page and the more knowledgeable to download..., those are the critical actions. The rest are secondary.
A final Plea
(If there is anyone out there that would like to assist Andre in the last few steps to get the tryout/why page to completion I'm sure Andre would be really grateful, I know I would, it's just too damn good to be hidden away. :) )