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Review of my Information Systems website Presentation and Feel

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Hi guys, i’ve been working my butt off on these systems for over a year now, and i’ve finally got them to a point where i feel comfortable letting to public begin to subscribe to them to use on their own websites.


I’m not good at marketing myself, nor my products, so i was wondering if i could get some feedback on what users THINK about these systems, and what they think about the way i’m presenting them (eg, words, design, layout, USABILITY, etc). It would also be great if someone actually USED them and told me what they thought. I need to know how this site FEELS to the user, and if it gets the point across accurately, and lets the user know WHAT this is that i've built, and HOW it BENEFITS them.


The website in question is: http://iims.ionisis.com

You would click on a particular system to view its details; that main iims page is just an overview as to how my SaaS framework works with the systems.


If you actually wanted to check them out and USE them to see how they feel (usability), you can see them and use them at TheSocialExpo.com


I REALLY appreciate any help on this, as i’ve been working on this for FAR too long to give up now…



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Ok, i know this sounds crazy, but tell me what you think about this "retarded" marketing idea:


I decided to make all of the systems FREE. People can use them for no money at all. I wonder how that's going to go over...


My HOPES are that the free accounts that are ad supported (via MY OWN internal ad system) will generate enough ad revenue to cover the cost of their bandwidth and cpu and memory consumption... I could loose my shirt on this one, or make it big. I guess we'll see...

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No one has gotten to this yet, so I'll add my two cents...


First off, congrats on getting to this point. I have a pretty good idea about how much time goes into putting something like this together, and I'm sure this represents months and months of work.


Ok, i know this sounds crazy, but tell me what you think about this "retarded" marketing idea:

Um, this is what a lot of companies are doing? Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc? Being "free" won't necessary encourage signup (features, especially ones that separate your systems from others would be the main draw, IMO), though I imagine it doesn't hurt.


A couple thoughts (not in any particular order):


-- I like the current design (http://iims.ionisis.com/'>http://iims.ionisis.com/'>http://iims.ionisis.com/) of the site better than the old (http://core.ionisis.com/). The new one feels more user friendly and informational, and isn't a pain to read on wide monitors (in the old design, the text stretches all the way across the page, making it difficult to read.) I do find the main text on some of the pages (for example, everything below the "General Benefits of ionisis Information Management Systems - IIMS" header on http://iims.ionisis.com/) a bit too wide to read comfortably.


-- I'm not sure about the use of "Information Systems" to define your various services you offer. The use of that name -- in my mind at least -- is vague and doesn't immediately communicate what the systems do. Your "Systems for Industry" tagline may make it appear that you are targeting large companies/enterprise users, rather than the average person who might sign up. That, plus the use of acronyms for all of the services, makes a lot of your offerings seem very technical, and thus perhaps users will imply that the services may not be user friendly. Rather than "information systems", something like "widgets" or "plugins" may work better, which implies modularity and easy plug-and-play functionality.


-- The use of the acronyms as links in the footer (http://iims.ionisis.com/) means that it is extremely difficult for new users to understand what they are clicking on. I definitely can't navigate the site that way.


-- Why is your target user for these systems? I'm having a hard time telling. Other web designers/programmers? Non-technical users? I took a look at the blog intro video, and I'm a bit confused why users need to write code and use HTML/CSS templates when creating a blog post. If I am going to use a blog system, I want that part to be abstracted away so I don't have to deal with it. Sure, I can write code, but why do it if I don't have to (at least for basic stuff) and a WYSIWYG system can handle basic text formatting? I would think that non-technical users who don't understand HTML would have trouble with this, and I definitely couldn't recommend this to my clients if writing HTML or dealing directly with code is required.


-- If your audience is non-technical users, perhaps it would be a good idea to shoot your videos using a more standard windows or mac, with a non customized operating system? The use of linux in the videos may throw some potential users off, and their unfamiliarity with linux may lead them to assume these systems are for technically oriented people, not for the "average" user.


-- If your audience is technical users, who will be reselling your systems to others, perhaps it would be a good idea to discuss the customizability of the various systems? How easy is it to theme the CMS/ecommerce system, etc? And other things like server requirements, full feature lists, etc?


-- I would love to see less text describing the systems (especially since you seem to repeat a lot of the same content, with the names of the systems switched out) and more imagery/screenshots of the systems in action/feature lists. For example, I think the Things website does an excellent job of visually showing off the various functionality of the Things software in a clean and attractive way. The use of more imagery and less text means the page is easier to scan and (IMO) easier to figure out if the piece of software would be useful (and yes, I realize that a desktop/phone app is not quite the same as an online service, but I think you'll get the idea): http://culturedcode.com/things/


-- You realize you are using the "Blogger" logo (http://www.blogger.com) for your social user blogging system, right? That logo is specific to Blogger, and isn't really a general icon to represent blogging?


-- I think the main concern I have, besides the "not knowing what your audience is" thing, is that I don't feel like I understand why I should choose your particular system over other free alternatives. You seem to stress the ease of installation, but that can't be the only compelling feature, since a lot of other systems have relatively easy installation, or web hosts include once click installers (Wordpress, various forum and wiki software, etc.)

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Thank you so much for you feedback, it was the most informative i've received ANYWHERE! I am bookmarking this page right now, and tomorrow night when i go through the content revisions, i will re-read this page for consideration of all the new content. I love a LOT of the points that you made, and found them VERY helpful in determining why no one has jumped on this new technology yet! (it is a new technology, in the same way that AJAX is: it uses existing technology, together, as a methodology, to accomplish something that has never be available before on the internet: SaaS websites)


One remark that i will make, is that the acronyms in the footer are more for search engines. I use them with the abbr/acronym tags to beat into the search engines that that acronym is an ionisis system. It actually does work for most of the ones that are already well established.


Also, i'm happy that you pointed out the flaw in my videos that made it seem that users had to edit stuff just to make a blog entry. That is not at all the case. You only have to setup your website once. After that, you're done. When you first set it up, you can use the provided template, or migrate your existing design into the setup. But either way, you only do it 1 time, when you first setup your site to run our systems. After that, you're good to go.


Thanks again for your input; it was most valuable!

Edited by Ionisis
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Ok, i think that i've NAILED it with this last modification, if anyone wants to give it another look. I figured out, thanks to everyone's feedback, that i was FLOODING the user with an information overload. So, i found a way to include all of the information on the page, AND MORE, in such a way that the user can consume it in a much easier way. I really think this is a MAJOR improvement :D.

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