Do I launch website now or wait for my application to be v1.0?


19

I'm in the process of developing a desktop application and I expect the first version to be finished by mid-march 2010. I have purchased the domain name and I'm very happy with the one I've got. My dilemma: Do I put the website up now or do I wait until nearer the application development completion time?

The domain name I've chosen is www.smartcompanysoftware.com I know there are many questions regarding this sort of thing on OnStartups, and most of the answers seem to favor the 'Get it out quick' model, but I'm undecided. Initially, I was thinking that it would piss people off if they saw the website, but then were hit with the coming soon... line, but on the other hand, if people like what they see, they would probably get in touch and be prepared to wait, or even participate in some form i.e. suggestions.

I think that going live with the website is probably the way to go (I know it is, but I guess I'm just trying to address the potential issues by raising the question here), but if so, how much content should I have? I don't want to spend too much time developing a flashy website as it will take me away from the real goal, my application. So, should I have a simple one page affair that show a fews screenshots or something more substantial? And if so, what should I include i.e. Home page, contact page, screenshots.

I also think it can only help my motivation once I've announced to the world, a commitment on my part I suppose to deliver what I've promised.

I'm very interested to hear peoples' opinions...

Thanks in advance,

Software Launch Website

asked Nov 23 '09 at 11:27
Blank
Smart Company Software
1,190 points

9 Answers


19

About 6 months out from your 1.0 release is perfect for launching your website. Building an online presence with the search engines takes months. If you wait until 1.0 is ready, you'll be quite frustrated looking for traffic and waiting for the search engines to start sending you customers. Here's my suggestion:

  1. Publish as much interesting content as you can about your software ASAP. Include descriptions, getting started info, screen shots, manuals, whatever you have.
  2. Include a contact submission form so early readers can sign up for more information as soon as it's available. Offer them a discount on 1.0 when its ready. Respond to everyone you hear from and make sure they get timely updates on your progress towards release.
  3. Write a clear, compelling press release ASAP that announces your product (Q2 2010?) and send it out though an agency like prweb.com.
  4. Start managing your web site as a business. This means studying white hat SEO techniques to properly promote your online presence (i.e. adding content regularly, managing a blog, writing content conscious of your chosen search terms, improving page names, titles, descriptions, etc.)
  5. Write and send another press release when you're ready to launch 1.0 and you'll be miles ahead in terms of traffic, experience and online presence.

This process will not only motivate you tremendously as you reach those last agonizing details that of a 1.0 release, it'll help you naturally segue into your next job of sales and marketing of your software.

answered Nov 23 '09 at 12:38
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Keith De Long
5,091 points
  • Thanks Keith. I will certainly follow your suggestions. I especially like the idea about keeping the enquirer informed of the progress with updates. I'm onto web hosting companies now... – Smart Company Software 8 years ago
  • +1, great tips about how to built momentum before the app is done – Jason 8 years ago
  • A comment on Jason's comment: In your blog post, http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/11416/Releasing-Early-Is-Not-Always-Good-Heresy.aspx, you take the other approach of not releasing early. I am of the opinion it may not be a good idea to release a product that's not quite ready for prime time but this seems to go against the grain of how a lot of people in the startup world think. Are the rules different for B-to-B and Consumer apps? – Gary Valan 8 years ago
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5

Absolutely, positively, unquestionably launch your website right now!!!!

On it tell people what you are producing and why your product will be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Then have a small survey asking them about what they use now to do whatever it is you'll be doing better and at the end of that, ask them if they'd like to be informed when it is ready, and get their name and email address.

This will start to build up a following.

It will also motivate you to work harder to get the product done.

I did this for 3 years before I launched my product and got the names of 800 people who were interested. When I released my alpha, I emailed them all and most downloaded the trial.

answered Nov 23 '09 at 14:36
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Lkessler
1,471 points
  • Your points are well made, and go nicely with the suggestions made by Keith. Thanks. – Smart Company Software 8 years ago
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4

Start it right now. It can take a long time until your site starts ranking for relevant searches, so get it up and out there right now.

If you think you'll be immediately swamped with traffic, think again.

Don't wait on this,

answered Nov 23 '09 at 20:30
Blank

3

Start it as soon as possible, offer a beta sign up form or a discount to people who subscribe to your mailing list. Create a blog and regularly update it (once a week is fine) with screenshots and milestones, as well as other interesting topics that may fall into your overall category.

As for the pages, these should be sufficient to start with:

Homepage, Screenshots, Features, Blog, Contact

Don't forget to get "Placeholder" accounts on all the popular social media sites, you don't have to use them, but its good to get a hold of them and put links to your site in the bio.

Just my thoughts, and no I have not launched any software so take it with a grain of salt.

answered Nov 24 '09 at 06:04
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Montana Flynn
323 points
  • Regardless of whether you have launched any software before, I appreciate you taking the time to help with suggestions. I agree with your page suggestions. Thanks – Smart Company Software 8 years ago
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3

First, get the web site launched as soon as possible (it doesn't need much content yet - either design your own page or use a service like http://comingsoonapp.com Most importantly, don't forget to let people leave their email address and include your google analytics code on the page.

Second, start a google adwords campaign. Set a relatively low daily budget (even as low as $1/day) and every few weeks change the text of the ad. Track how many people 'react' to the ad and you'll get really valuable data about what is the best way to attract.

Third, a few months before release, change the text of the coming soon page to something like 'sign up for beta'. You'll get early adopters who really want to see your software. They'll be great both for testing it, and spreading the word.

Best of luck!

answered Nov 24 '09 at 20:59
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Denis Hennessy
1,363 points
  • I've checked out the 'coming soon' website. I think that is a great idea. I can get that up while I am tinkering with the other few pages I want to add leaving me to concentrate on my application. – Smart Company Software 8 years ago
  • @Denis that link is dead – Systempuntoout 6 years ago
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2

None of us can answer the question for you without knowing a lot more. But the process..

Look at it from the perspective of:
1) what are you trying to accomplish by putting up the site now? What are your objectives?

2) what's the downside? Competitor benefit from knowing? Possibility you extend way beyond ship date and lose credibility? Etc...

3) what's the upside?
Start to build a buzz. Start to generate prospects. Etc...

If you write up bullets for each of those, you'll have your answer.

answered Nov 23 '09 at 11:41
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Chris
4,214 points

1

Although I agree with the caveats expressed by others about the potential risks (and extra work), I tend to lean heavily toward the "start now!" camp.

It is very tough to develop a following for a software product (especially a desktop application), so the sooner you can begin building a community of interested prospects, beta users, and influential observers, the sooner you can begin building that momentum.

Obviously you need to avoid shooting yourself in the foot by over-promising in your messaging on the site, and I can see the risk of creating and managing the site being a distraction to your core product development efforts.

I also took a quick look at that "Coming Soon" service offered by Denis, and I think that merits serious consideration as a no-friction way to get started.

answered Nov 28 '09 at 08:56
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Startup Guy
88 points

1

I've asked myself this very same question in the past and I found one piece of information that has really changed my point of view. In the past I wanted to make sure the site was 110% ready. I wanted all the links, content, pictures, logos, etc.

This is just paraphrased because I can't remember exactly how it went.

Google didn't wait until they had the
whole Internet indexed before launching
and they're doing just fine now.

I pretty much got nowhere real fast! I read this ONE blurb and now I'll put stuff out there that may not be quite done but enough for visitors. I do make sure though the information is accurate and factual because if not you'll lose your credibility.

Hope this helps!

answered Dec 22 '09 at 06:46
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Schemjo
11 points

0

The downside to launching the site prematurely is that people might develop wrong impressions about your product. Ralph's strategy is a generally a good one; have a website presence but don't market your product on the site until 1.0 readiness is at arm's length.

That said, your specific product might be resistant to those problems, so adjust your strategy accordingly.

answered Nov 28 '09 at 01:47
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Henry The Hengineer
4,316 points

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