As part of writing and researching for TechCrunch, I look at a lot of websites and make judgments about what looks interesting/is important. Nothing gets me more than when a company can’t explain what they do in simple terms or hides their product a couple links deep.
RealTimeMatrix is (unfortunately) a good example of this. Real Time Matrix has a substantial product, but muddles it in their web page design. I originally looked at their site multiple times and didn’t have a really clear vision of what they were actually doing. I’m not sure what a “real time matrix” is (math maybe?) and exactly how that ties in to a product. Well, it turns out that they make a product called iJ.am, which delivers personalized content to you in a widgetized RSS reader. However, the message is buried in quotes and jargon. The description of the product is particularly confusing:
An iJ.am™ Vortex is an integration of multiple sources of live, Web information defined by the user, combined with additional topic-specific sources and ancillary media such as rich media content, communication, ads, and listings. Unlike traditional portals and channels, a Vortex collects and displays content directly from original sources, no matter what the format, in real time. Further, the selection of the sources is determined and edited by the viewer, not an intermediary.
I don’t know why they use such inaccessible language to describe what is essentially a customized RSS reader. The wordiness makes me think they don’t really have a clear idea of what they’re doing. The appearance of iJ.am on the site also confuses me about the distinction between RTM and iJam (is RTM making multiple products or is this their only one?). Furthermore, I have no idea why there isn’t a self-serve funnel for designing one for your site. Minekey (personalized content recommendation widget) does a fine job of that.
If anything, simple products (all products should aim at an appearance of simplicity), should have simple explanations.
Your website should do the following (rough list of suggestions):
- describe your product in as few words as possible (facebook = social network, google = search engine, brightcove = hosted enterprise video)
- avoid three syllable words/technical jargon. save that for the how it works page.
- get me to click on something within 20 seconds of being on the site
- reel people in with a main feature, then show them the rest of the tools (adding features is not becoming competitive, it is adding confusion)
- make an FAQ easily available
- not have auto-playing content
- let me play with your tool (this is why mobile applications are hard to review. The great deal of “hands on” experience with web apps, facilitates conversation about them. Now so with mobile apps.)