Should I offer a site tour on my home page?


In the not so distant future, I will be launching a site that is mostly for businesses and is largely Software as a Service. I am wondering what you think about the pros and cons of having a pretty in-depth product tour available through a link on the homepage vs. requiring a user to "sign up for a free demo".

The only reason why I think it might not be such a good idea to give unqualified access to the tour, is that it will completely expose what I am doing to competitors, not just prospective customers.

On the other hand, if I don't provide it immediately, I am not sure the real value proposition will come through without the tour, therefore leading many possible prospects to just move on.

Does you opinion change any if I were to tell you that the price point will begin at $ 500 per month and then up?

How do you suggest I handle this issue? Thank you, in advance.

Marketing Sales Saas Web App

asked Apr 22 '11 at 11:02
21 points
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4 Answers


I think the part where you said not wanting to expose your site features to your competitor, is invalid - your competitor can easily pretend to be a customer, wolf hiding in sheep's clothing.

I think as a startup, you should not be afraid of your competitor, and don't go eye an eye with them - price, feature. It doesn't mean they are cheap then you should go cheaper, it doesn't mean they have 20 features, you should pump in 30 features. Read Getting Real by 37signals. Don't be afraid of your competitor, but instead, learn from them. They have done so much to earn their badge as "Your Competitor". They must have something good to show on the table, which you don't.

To answer your question, you should summarize your site features on the front page. In another words, treat your home page as your elevator pitch. As concise as possible. Then, have an option for a full site tour, that is not too lengthy too.

As a Saas, it's always good to give a free account, for one user, to try out your service. Again, look at 37signal's product on Basecamp. Don't limit the features, but limit the user.

answered Apr 22 '11 at 11:23
593 points
  • Thanks, Victor.....Absolutely a full featured free trail will be part of the offering. Does you opinion change any if I were to tell you that the price point will begin at $ 500 per month and then up? So putting the competition issue aside, what I am saying is that this more than likely is not going to be something someone cannot just sign up for without getting approval from others at the company. Does that change your opinion about where the full product explanation should occur? Before collecting qualifying data or right up front with a link from the home page? Thanks again. – User9886 13 years ago
  • If it's a B2B product, $500 is ok to be approved in department level as @Joel Spolsky has pointed out. Having said this, you gotta understand that the one demonstrating your product, will be able to present the demo in front of managers before approval, so free trial is not a debate. Visit this: 1st page elevator pitch, 2nd page main feature list, you may need 3rd page full feature list (because the one doing demo may need to have a comparison table together with your competitors before deciding). – Victor 13 years ago


Well I'd say it's all "con".

Provide your demo / tour freely is my opinion ... if people are interested by it, then they'll sign up. At any sign up or provide details step you'll lose some - it's always that way. If you require registration to view what it's all about I suspect a much larger percentage simple won't bother.

And if it's competitors you're concerned about, what's to stop them simply registering via a gmail account or unknown (to you) domain?

I think it's much more likely your competition wont be that interested until you become noticeable.

answered Apr 22 '11 at 11:15
2,552 points


Once you get going, you'll have A-B tests for these things. You'll try it both ways, and which ever way gets you the most sales, you'll do.

In the meantime, you have to go by your gut. You said it's a $500+ product. This is approved at the department level--in most companies pretty much any manager will be approving it. That means you can make sales without a salesforce. That means that you need to have ALL the information on the web, so that people can evaluate your product. The more information you provide, the better.

In other words... let your customers self-qualify by giving them tons and tons of information.

answered Apr 22 '11 at 11:44
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points
  • Thanks, Joel....very helpful. – User9886 13 years ago


A site I just finished working on (can't name it here though) is about to do the same. Basically you can use the entire application for free without having to join, to test out if you like the interface or features. Don't go the screenshots route, screenshot tours on homepages are like marquee text on a website. Videos are inaccessible, and annoying for users with slow internet connections.

Just create a version of your site that visitors can use.

answered Jul 13 '11 at 18:27
Digital Sea
1,613 points

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