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Last few days I have done a lot of software & website testing, both for my own purpose and for my friends and relatives that are developing something or the other. Most of the experience was good and I enjoyed my part of evaluating the software, but there were some little anoyances that made me mad at times and move away from some vendors just becuase I could not really evaluate their products in the way I wanted to with the little facilities that were provided to me. I got writing my views of what not to do while promoting  software and services after I read Mike Gunderloy's article on ADmag.com. I will write Mike's point as well as couple more:-

  • Don't want have evaluation version at all --> Now I agree to Mike's point here, I am still seeing some vendors that would not offer evaluation copies, what they will offer is a online video, demo of their software and they want users to spend a good amount of money just looking at a one minute video!!! Is it that difficult to develop a evaluation copy? Or are they worried that members will download the evaluation version and will never come back as the software is that crappy in reality? Or are they worried that people will download the evaluation copy and then crack the software from the cracks available on the warez sites on the Internet?
  • Tie the evaluation time to the download date --> I agree to this point of Mike Gunderloy's article, there are quite a few software that I see online that will issue me a temporary evaluation code or key which is valid from the point on which I download the software to the certiain period, but I might not test it immediately upon download and I don't want to waste my time and bandwith downloading it again and again and ask for codes everytime.
  • Don't provide documentation or FAQ's:- This is applicable both the software and even the websites offering some services. If you have a software or a website, try to make a decent accessible help file , FAQ's or whatever that is applicable. This really helps your customers in understanding the working of your software in a better way and if they are facing any troubles during installation or during operating the software, if the help file is good enough, than they can see what is causing the problem. If you are offering a service on a website, than create a good understandable web page what explains what the service is, create a list of FAQ's.
  • Don't have a support email:- Don't expect that all your customers will call you if they run into trouble or they will search through your forums or extensive list of FAQ's, have a support email where your customers can email their problem and expect a reply and if you cannot provide this, mention is somewhere on the product help file or the product website and mention the alternative ways.
  • Not mentioning the issues that you are aware of:- If you know that there are allready some identified issues that are still to be resolved in your product, admit it. This will save a lot of time and resources at the user's end, as they will not waste their time and stress themselves as to why a product is not working properly on their systems. Try to get back to the users when these problems are resolved, this will create a positive impression and put these updates on the website if possible.
  • Software does not work on VM's:- Try that your software works on a VM and if it does not than mention it somewhere and if possible giving some technical reasons.
  • Responding to client queries:- If you have a email address for product queries, try to answer the queries as soon as possible, this again creates a positive impression.I will like to advocate for Onfolio, ContentSaver and Newsgator on this issue, they have a great customer support service.
  • Not compatible with browsers:-If it is a website is promoting a service, make sure that your website is compatible with almost all the latest browsers and standards compatible, as this can be frustrating for users when they don't see things at proper places in browsers and the website does not render properly.

These are the major factors that I can think of at these stage, let me know if I have missed any other important factors that you might think is important.

Tejas Patel

Posted on Tuesday, May 4, 2004 2:09 PM Technical | Back to top

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