Design Audit:

This is another request from the Twist list, this time of JD.  I wanted to take on this one because it’s a mobile app which should have very different sales and design patterns, at least as far as their websites are concerned.

The full site is at and also capped below.

1. The thing about app sites

Sites for webapps should function very differently than sites for webapps for a few specific reasons.  With webapps, the site is your product and the hurdle can be significant.  You are often asking for someones email or credit card number.  This means you need to provide enough sales inertia to get them through that.

With 95% of mobile app sites, the only thing you want the visitor to do is click that iTunes link. Any other clickable item will reduce the visitors chance of getting to iTunes.  Normally I recommend a longer sales process, but for mobile apps, there should be nothing below the fold.

The other thing about mobile apps is the website is likely not your major problem.  Mobile app users will download, install, click around, and uninstall your app before a webapp user has even confirmed their email.  The low new user hurdle just means people will be dumped into the product quickly and have less invested, emotionally and financially.  So don’t worry about optimizing your mobile app landing page, that’s the easy part.

With all that said, less is more, and when there is less on the page, each item becomes more important.  So let’s get started.

1. Logo

This just is not doing it for me.  It feels dated and cheap.  Way too much glassy reflection going on.  That just isn’t hot anymore.  Also there are about 50,000 apps that use chat bubbles in their icon/logo.  I know you feel like you have to do it because its a social app, but you don’t.  The app name is descriptive enough, use the logo as an opportunity to stand out rather than blend in.

2. Header

There really shouldn’t be a header here at all.  As a visitor, I don’t care about any of that stuff.  If I do start clicking around then I am getting farther from the place you need me to be, the iTunes app store, then my gmail notifier goes off, and you’ve lost me.  I’m off doing other stuff.  Many apprepreneurs make the mistake of combining their app and company all into the same page.  Unless you a big hot company like instagram, I don’t care “about you” or your buzz or jobs and unless you have an active community, you don’t need a blog.  Apps don’t have blogs.  Nor do I care about your facebook or twitter profiles.  If I am a first time visitor, chances are I haven’t used the app yet, why would I like or tweet anything.  You haven’t earned it.  The only reason social buttons should be there is for social proof, as in “oh 20k people have liked this, it can’t be too bad”, and that should only be used if you have 1K+ likes.  I don’t think there is a need for google translate either.  Is your app in “Afrikaans”? No, then you site doesn’t need to be either.  This header has 8 clickable items that take me away from where I need to be.

3. Hot Mess of Distraction

Wow.  11 clickable elements here.  There should be one, possibly 2.  Fire up the chain saw.

Why repeat your logo, it’s not even an effective one.  Ditch it.  The only two buttons that matter here are the android and apple ones, yet strangely they don’t even look like clickable buttons.  You want to funnel the visitors into these links so make sure they look like buttons and they should really be the only thing that looks like a button.  You don’t want the visitor to stick around, they need to move on to your other sales page.

You don’t need images of both an iPhone and android phone.  Especially since the screen shot is the same.  Use just the iPhone, it will be the most popular.  If I am an android user I will looking for that andoid logo, it’s my nature.  If you are going to have some sort of animation here, it should only be flipping between screen shots of the app.  If you can effectively communicate what the app does in a few screenshots, then do it.  Remember, there are two sales pages here, yours and apples.  You have more control over yours so try to give the visitor plenty of inertia to power through to the ‘view in itunes’ button or get them to pick up the phone and search for the app.  But at the same time, don’t make them linger.  This is a 10-15 second sell, anything longer and people are going to drop out.

Your copy is the third most important thing on the page, behind the call to action (which is hidden) and the app images (which are redundant).  This is your only opportunity to say what the app does so make it count.   You have wasted value space and time by saying “free to hangout” three times.  It’s really hard to say what works and what doesn’t so you should be split testing this like a samurai.  Try all sorts of copy.  Not only will this increase your CTR, but will also give you some insights into what people want and what resonated with them.

App videos are high risk.  They can turn the visitor into the user or make them flee.  The best video’s are just short and professional demonstrations of the app and it potential.  You have a lifestyle video.  Maybe I don’t like guys with beards, maybe I think the people in your stock photos look like douchebags, maybe I don’t drink beer.  Ideally you want the user to project themselves using the app.  Currently you are projecting a vision of the user which may be incongruous to viewer.  Save the lifestyle stuff for the big brands that do it well, Apple, Nike, etc.  Just show me how to use the app in 30 seconds or less.  Also split test with and without the video, you might find people who click the video tend to flee.  Also drop that situations link, it’s another distraction.  My situations are different from your situations and any user of social apps already have their situations in mind.

Finally, that bottom grey section is just more distractions.  I don’t care if you are on facebook, everyone is.  Why is there a link to SXSW interactive?  Are you getting paid to send YOUR customers there?  Nothing on that SWSX page mentions Who’s Free and oh… check out this article on this other cool app.  Another visitor lost.  The switchable apple/andoid buttons are totally useless aswell.

4. Social proof

CNN? Washington Post?  Just who is your target demo?  Old people?  Not only does this social proof lead me away from your site, it may be pejoratively coloring your app.  Let’s say I am a 14-22 year old coming to your site.  “Oh, its a CNN and Washington post thing, nevermind, not for me.”  You don’t need to list every press clipping you get, only the ones that will make an impact.  Are you going after early adopters, then get some press on TechCrunch or RWW.  I have no idea what realTVfilms or NHK is so that makes me suspicious.  Honestly, I would remove the press stuff altogether until you have something worth putting up.

5.  Design Katamari

The rest of the page reminds of the awesome Katamari series of games where this small sticky ball just rolls along and everything in its wake just globs on to it.  Eventually it’s a behemoth of indistinguishable debris.  That’s what this page is. Unattributed sensational quotes, redundant andoid marketing, redundant social buttons, redundant sales copy, and a blog posts I care exactly zero about. The only thing else that needs to be on this page is this.

A link in the bottom right to your company.  Your company’s site is where you put the blog, about us, jobs, and press.  If I am the rare visitor who is seeking that info out, it’s not hard to find.  I will look for a link to your company and it doesn’t need to be in the header.

6. Conclusion

This page needs to go on a diet, and not the low carb kind.   I’m talking about the hack-off-your-limbs diet where you get down to the very basic necessities needed to survive.  These are your product image, your sales copy, and your call to action button.  I would start over with just that.  Once you have those elements, and only those elements, you can try to spruce up the general design which is seriously dated.  Of course all of this will only help user acquisition.  If your churn is high, then funneling more users into the app will just multiply the gross inefficiency going on.  Hope that helps!

  • JD

     Spot on Jess ! Awesomely intelligent & direct. Love it. Totally agree, hence why we are in the process of revamping our old website as well as app, so your input is great validation.
    Thnx so much for your valuable input! JD, CEO