So I am finally finished writing my software product after a long time (1.5 years)...full time almost development and research by myself.
This software is designed for businesses and research companies, it's application varies greatly.
The picture of this industry I have is that I ran a consulting/service firm for about 1 year before starting writing this software.
Basically, I wanted to write something better, and there is not many options out there. I also wanted a tool I could use easily, and hope that other users will benefit from the same simplified and powerful user experience.
So today, I thought I'd give my non-tech friends a shout out to see how they think of it. The response I got was "this is what you've been working on all this time" ? It was a bit like they couldn't fully understand or appreciate this software's purpose, and it's capabilities, design etc.
When I showed the software to some other technologically aware friends, the response was a bit more elevated perhaps they had similar experiences, how difficult it can be to write a full fledged software as a service that has to compete with desktop/server alternatives.
Anyways, I thought I'd expect more feedbacks and responses, but it almost seems that people who has never seen or dealt with this industry and it's software has absolutely no idea.
This lack of "wow!" responses from some non-tech people makes me worrisome, I know there's a market for my type of software, but this market is hard to gauge. I based the market based on the number of leads I landed back in my consulting/service business in this very same industry....
It seems like people are totally unaware of this niche, but the number of leads and potential pricing point that I had been able to work out over the years dealing with leads and clients, I think this is a good sized market.
I have competitors already but there is only one or two other competitors doing the SaaS approach...
I don't know maybe I am just having trouble handling pressure and stress. I am glad that I have finished implementing the final feature. I just need beta testers.....what is my next step ?
Sorry if this is ranty, I was quite upset that I didn't get the response I expected from the non-tech folks....for example, the software UI and process is simplified but that simplification process took a lot of trial and error, research (basically reading 50 different phd papers on the domain), and a lot of time writing, rewriting, testing code. The code writing was the lesser problem (I had to learn few extra languages on the go) but more of how can I design an elegant pattern to process some data etc......
Should I be worried or am I being too paranoid here from the stress ?
You've worked in this industry and made contacts with potential users, but decided to abandon them for 1.5 years? You should have kept in touch with these people and let them know what you were creating. If they thought it was a good idea, they'd let you know. You better hope things haven't changed since you left.
Dig through your old emails and contact information and get to know them again. Apologize for not keeping in touch. See how they are doing in their career and hopefully they'll make the connection with what you are trying to do. Ask/beg them to take a look at your site.
Stop wasting your time on people who have no use for your product. Don't be discouraged, just work with people who need what you're selling.
You can hope for the best.
After 1.5 years of investment, you really cannot afford to rebuild.
Get launched, and sell
You will have to support your product with extensive training so your clients understand what they are looking at.
The first time I looked at Adobe Photoshop, I was confused.
The first time I used visual studio, I was even more confused.
The first time I played with the stereo in my car, I was confused.
The bottom line is that if your product has value, your customers will learn to use it.
I am putting a positive note on this, In the future you want to pay very close attention to the User experience in your product.
Many tech folks neglect the user experience.
My team and I build all our projects by first determining its requirements and what it will do, then the complete user experience, and finally tie it together with the functionality and data storage requirments.
Putting the UI first forces you to focus on solving the use cases from a UI developers point of view. Also forces you to see the big picture.
The good news for you, is that you can sell what you have now, and use all of that for your market research.
By the way,
First time I used facebook the Wall made no sense to me.
Now, its second nature.
Still expect that your customers will learn.
Also work on your presentation skills.
You are intimate with your product, knowing all its details, your clients are not "YET"
BEST OF LUCK.
You need to immediately get a copy of Steve Krug's book "Don't Make Me Think". While the book is orriented towards web site design, 90% of what he says also applies to software design. Pay particular attention to useability and testing your customer's experience.
Once you have read the book and understand his message, go back and locate some old contacts in your industry. Talk to them and get several (not just one) to take a look at your software. Follow the guidelines from Krug's book on useability testing. Watch what they do with your software. That will tell you whether your software is ready for release or revision.
Don't pay any attention to people's opinions of your software if they are not in your industry niche.
I'm learning quickly that people have the attention spans of gold fish and if they can't figure out what your website is within 5 seconds of hitting your page, they're going to blame you in the form of criticism for having a cryptic product.
This isn't something you can change, but rather, be aware that you'll need to spend some time on usability and have a range of people in your target demographic touching your prototype on a regular basis. Get feedback from them, don't ever explain yourself or take it personally, just thank them for their thoughts and continue to develop based on that information.
It is well known idea, that if you tell the people who are your potential customers a brief description of your future product and they say - "that's good", "interesting", then your idea might not be as good as you think. But if they scream - "Where can I get one?", "How can I try it out?" - then you can potentially have a bestseller.
So go and tell about your software to those people who can possibly be your customer, not to those random people who doesn't care and see their reaction!