Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Online demonstrations

Early on, I made the decision that releasing Roistr without online demonstrations would be a mistake. This was simply because I could not see it convincing anyone without some kind of demonstration. However, within this general field, a lot of companies simply offer the 'contact us for a demo' type wording and it seems well enough for them.

We are, however, a start-up company which means that we have few eyeballs. Although the website is getting views from around the world already, it's not enough on its own.

So Roistr has a couple of online demonstrations. These are very simplistic and pruned to the branch and the most important one is the (planned categorisation demo). This is where you can entire a category description of something and find out which of a bunch of documents is most relevant. It's very cool but of itself it isn't really relevant to people who come by the site unless they go to the effort of entering in their own data.

So I thought of a demo where people could enter a Twitter user name and the last 20 tweets would be matched against a set of something. That would be cool because it a) is easy to complete (just enter any valid Twitter name), b) if the use enters their own user name (quite likely), then results will have greater personal relevance than just some random text, and c) it can be tested with any Twitter user name (only public posts are retrieved).

The problem now is working out what to match against: should it be a product list? A series of books? News articles?

I'm not sure yet but maybe all of them - people can then choose the type of product or service that is likely to appeal to them.

But there is an element of unfamiliarity about this: the list has to be short enough to be quickly scanned (else they might think, "I'm sure there is something more relevant to me but I cannot find it!"), general (so that there is something of high relevance there), but specific (to improve relevance). It's a difficult task. I posted a question on Quora about this. Already there are followers so people are interested in the question. No answers yet so I'm going to have to make a judgement call. :-)

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