I was watching some vCasts of the Better By Design conference the other day and came across this one by Sam Morgan.

His points were very much directed at businesses developing internet delivered products or services and, since I’ve been talking about SaaS lately it seemed timely to go through his points.

1) Speed matters – In an internet experience, converting visits to sales is directly related to the speed with which a customer can view an item and transact the process. Page loading times are paramount here (witness the snails pace Ebay vs turbo TM), but also think about the number of steps from “decide to buy” to “transaction complete”. So many sites require a multitude of screen progressions for this process and it’s a disincentive to purchasers.

2) Embrace convention – obviously convention is a strange word for the online auction space which did not exist 15 years ago. But the gist here is that there is a reason things are done the way they are. Sam didn’t create a new category – he took an existing model – bought it to NZ and did it better. Obviously when dealing with hard goods the rules change a little – Jeremy Moon did not embrace convention when creating Icebreaker, but in the software environment it works. While I’ll be harassed by comments telling me that YouTube was ground breaking and revolutionary, my take is that it was more evolutionary and as such pretty much complied with Sam’s rule #2

3) Measure everything – the metrics are king. The plethora of data that TM tracks is amazing, but at the end of the day an internet business is a numbers gae – you live and die on your visits, UPV’s, conversion rate etc etc. Ignore them at your peril

All interesting lessons and an interesting process is to plug any of the new internet businesses into these criteria and see how they do

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Interesting: Trademe vs. ebay.

    I find the Trademe UI clunky, and the search is well broken.

    Ebay in contrast is over-complicated, but pretty quick if you have a local ebay (i.e. not visiting from NZ, with our broken broadband).

    Ideally, I’d prefer something inbetween. Maybe I’m not in the middle of the curve though? A tail-dweller?

    Regading your (his) point 1 – process is as critical here as UI/visual design. Both Trademe and Ebay need some attention IMO.

    Thanks for the link – there’s some other interesting stuff there too.

  • Snails pace eBay is superfast here in the UK. Turbo TM is stuck in the slow lane (as are pretty much all NZ hosted sites). I never realised that being so far away from NZ would make such a marked difference.

    The lesson here? If page load times are important, then put your servers close to your customers.

  • Dan’s right – code tight and host local – a SaaS mantra

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