Should you build a website or app?
When speaking to entrepreneurs at the start of their journey, their burning question is always “should I build an app or website for my idea?” Whilst this is understandable given that the number of internet users in the world has now surpassed 4 billion with no signs of slowing down, we find that founders rush into building a website or app. Building a website requires at least 3 components – deciding on your brand name and logo, buying a domain and developing the website. If an agency is involved in building the website, a fairly simple website could range between £2000 to around £20000 depending on the complexity of what is needed.
Once the website is up and running founders then invest in marketing and getting traffic to the site. Only to realise the fundamental reason which became the impetus for the business idea was flawed. However this learning came about after spending some hard earned cash. We see this over and over again. Some extreme cases of people spending two years and tens of thousands of pounds on building the perfect website and app that sadly no one wants to use. So, how can you avoid making the same mistake?
Don’t Start with a MVP – start with a pre-MVP!
A Minimal Viable Product or an MVP involves building the most basic solution that will solve the problem you are trying to address. It should be one simple thing which can be tested for viability of your idea. I remember when I met Eric Ries, the father of the Lean Startup movement in London. Eric discussed the concept of MVPs and his book the Lean Startup and that is when I realised that there was a way to to test an idea easily, quickly and with minimal cost – essentially a pre-MVP. The how is what I will share here today.
Testing your idea
The essence of the MVP stage is to quickly test, learn and iterate. You are searching for signs that there is demand for your product BEFORE you spend years building and perfecting it.
Sadly we see it all too often. A founder will come up with an idea of a fantastic product or solution that he or she thinks everyone will love. And because of his/her conviction that this product is going to be great, they will be afraid to talk to anyone about what they are building for fear that the person they tell will quickly copy their idea and become wealthy beyond belief. Sorry to burst that bubble, but that is the total opposite of what you need to do in the MVP stage. Before you even get the first version of your product out in front of customers, you should test to see what they think are critical features to include in your first version. So how do you do that? By building a simple landing page.
A landing page is different from a website. A landing page’s sole objective is to push visitors to take an action. If the business wants to generate leads then a simple form on the page will suffice. If the objective is to sell a product a very simple checkout process within the page can do the trick.
Remember at this stage you just want to test whether or not your new idea has got legs. The simplest way to do this is describe your product or service with images and compelling copy and then simply ask people if they would be interested in signing up to be amongst the first users when it launches. You need to add a simple form which captures your visitor’s email address and adds them to a waiting list. Once you have developed the MVP (which is still basic but solves the critical problem your users responded to) you can reach out to your early signups and ask them to help you test it. Use the feedback to iterate and improve your product again.
5 tips to create a landing page
1 – A popular solution is to use a landing page builder tool like Unbounce to test your idea, analyse visits and iteratively loop back and forth to increase conversions. You don’t need any coding skills to create a landing page on Unbounced which makes it very popular even if you are not technical.
2 – Unbounced is powerful when comes to split testing. Split testing essentially means testing two slightly different versions of your landing page to see which message resonates more. When you are split testing, be careful to only change one variable – for example, the message or the image or the call to action. You can create more versions to test different variables but we recommend you do this iteratively.
3 – This page should be easily tested and linked to a google ppc campaign or via Facebook ads. You need to spend a bit of money (perhaps $50-$100) to test what it costs to get someone to show interest in your product.
4 – Plug in tools like Google Analytics or HotJar to help in understanding user activities on the page. All of this learning can be significant to validate the idea.
5 – Another quick hack. If you want to test something out pretty quickly check out usabilityhub.com. Within usabilityhub you can upload a mockup of your landing page and start a test campaign and ask questions which can help you understand the viability of your product at a very early stage. Although this might not be the perfect audience you want to target but it will be close enough to learn what customers want and are willing to pay for.
Lets pick an example to illustrate the process a bit further. Meet Tim, the founder of RocketShip Inc.
Tim wants to create a LinkedIn like social network for Chefs called NinjaChef.
The first step is for Tim to check the viability of his idea. He comes up with a landing page which has a unique time bound offer to attract his target audience. For Tim the audience is chefs who are looking for new jobs or one who want to showcase their portfolio.
On the landing page Tim can offer a free CV Template for landing the perfect job. To download this free template, Tim asks for an email address. Once the user visits the landing page and download the pdf, Tim can then start a nurturing email sequence to introduce them the idea of the NinjaChef asking them what they think are critical features to helping chefs find a job. These emails could be automated or Tim could contact his potential leads directly and to feedback on NinjaChef. By doing this and getting a deeper understanding of what chefs looking for jobs really want, Tim can develop his MVP with the most basic function that will solve the problem for the majority of his target audience. Tim will also quickly be able to determine if people aren’t really interested in his solution because they may be perfectly happy with existing solutions. Finding out that his idea isn’t commercially viable now is so much less painful than after spending years in stealth mode building an alternative to LinkedIn that no one wants.
Building a landing page can be very cost-effective. If you are savvy enough you can build one using a variety of different tools from Wix, Unbounce, Instapage to Webflow.
However, you can also reach to experts who can come with an effective pages which could maximise conversions. At enfoundery, we have worked with 100’s of businesses and helped them by building custom landing pages that convert. To get inspiration for yours you can download our Landing Page Gallery featuring more than 100 landing pages across various verticals.
You can download the gallery for Free by clicking here: