I still remember the days at my last job where I “clocked hours” while doing mundane tasks. Every passing moment seemed forever — full of boredom, monotony and a test of patience. It is hard for me to remember every moment that I’ve lived, but the ones I do recall tend to have a strong emotional connection. These are the moments that add up to make minutes, hours, days and months of my memories.
We started Miranj with a hope to achieve our sweet spot. With unexpected hurdles at each step, even simple things – be it choosing a name, finding a good accountant, interpreting legal speak, searching for office space, signing our first client or opening a bank account – weren’t easy. Along the way we have often swatted flies at the office, endured words of concern from our parents and panicked for the lack of funds. And then there were days when we were simply overjoyed. There were moments of sadness, courage, anguish, desperation, joy, pride, satisfaction and learning.
These moments, today, add up to a full year. Never before has time passed so fast.
Watch this space for our upcoming blog post!
Imagine for a second that this post had ended with just that one line. After making an effort to reach this blog, how would you have felt?
If I were to guess, it would’ve been one of the following:
- The post isn’t even out. Pointless!
- What a waste of a visit!
- Crap! Made a fool of myself by following a worthless link.
Now suppose this weren’t a mere blog post, but a really promising product that managed to catch your attention. You
need want this product. You are excited about it and land on this page only to find out that it’ll be coming soon.
This time what could possibly be your reaction? Perhaps—
Can’t wait! When is this coming?
In both cases, the user undergoes a certain level of discomfort, anxiety and isn’t really happy about the situation. Yet the internet is littered with such heartless “coming soon” pages. In earlier days an “under-construction” sign (at times accompanied by a short animation) was put up when a website or a webpage was under development. The trends changed over the years and this was replaced by an optimistic, future-oriented and more promising “coming soon” sign. The plan is to generate excitement, build traction and finally a big bang on release day! The motive is undoubtedly good, but seldom do plans work out as expected. A more likely outcome is a frustrated user. We’ve been victims ourselves.
.@souvikdg on ‘Coming Soon / Under Construction’ sites:
Dark alley, thug attack.
Batman appears & says, “Just a sec coming soon.”
— Prateek रूंगटा (@rungta) October 4, 2011
Recently, one of our friends who was quite disturbed about the “coming soon” sections on his family business website confessed, “No one is working on it to bring it up soon!”. Very few stakeholders foresee these problems early enough, counting instead on their “clear plan”. Let’s analyse a couple of them:
We plan to build a product. Let’s quickly put up a coming soon page to keep people interested in our idea and then start building the product.
This move might serve as a promise and commitment to deliver, but it suffers from some fundamental flaws. First, the ‘real’ work is pushed for later and instead a “coming soon” page is worked upon. Second, it is extremely hard to visualise the final product. In a software project, where change is a lot easier than in a traditional brick-and-mortar project, plans change very often (even while the product is being developed); the final product rarely matches the creator’s original vision. Chances are quite high that the “coming soon” page would have promised something different. Finally, there is an assumption that the project will ship and not turn into vapourware.
We plan to launch this application with Use Cases A, B & C. We’ll launch the website as soon as Use Case A is ready and Use Cases B & C can link to a coming soon page. While our Use Case A seeks traction we’ll work on the remaining features.
Again in this case, once a product goes live the focus from the pending features can easily be lost. User feedback, bugs and scalability are just a few things that might de-prioritise the work on Use Cases B & C. Trust us, refinements can take forever. Not to mention the possibility of a new use case being born. Ain’t it better to not pre-emptively market Use Cases B & C?
So, when to do a “coming soon” page?
For starters, certainly not before the product itself is ready. Once the product is built, nothing like taking the audience directly to the product instead of painting a rosy image in their minds and letting it rot by the time they get to the real product. Important to note, “soon” indicates an amount of time that is subjective. It is hard to tell by when the excitement completely dies out, or worse, turns into contempt.
However, in case one does wish to put up a teaser, setting the right expectations (both in terms of the product features/offerings and the timelines) is important. Only once the product has been built can that be achieved. Build the product, set clear expectations and promise a date. Just how Apple does. Heck, even Virgle conveyed clear timelines!
Now come back soon for our next post. Just kidding!
A new payment solution with a single-minded focus on their customers—the developers. Stripe looks like a refreshing glass of cold water in the desert land that is internet payment gateways. Everything about them defies the current market of payment solutions that developers have to put up with in-order to accept payments on the web: a clear and unambiguous offering, crisp communication, good documentation and all with a straightforward (and perhaps, quite friendly) pricing.
The best thing about Stripe, however, is their approach to the payments problem. Unlike most gateways, what Stripe offers is an API and not an interface which redirects back–and–forth. This gives app developers complete freedom to design and optimise the experience of accepting payments from their end-users.
Our only gripe? They’re U.S. only (for now). India can really do with some good payment solutions. We can’t wait to integrate Stripe (what with, hmm) as soon as they start paying out to Indian accounts.
The web is at its most powerful when used as a communication medium. Even as it evolves supporting richer formats every day, text remains the most basic and widely used format for expressing ourselves online. Ubiquitous almost. And given this ubiquity, it becomes pretty important for web designers to ensure that the message contained in those letters and words is conveyed as efficiently as possible. In fact, Oliver Reichenstein makes a compelling argument that 95% of web design is typography.
Typography is an important part of written communication, but not its sum total. There are other aspects like engagement and clarity that are just as important. This presentation thus begins by highlighting the process, setting the priorities right. It then goes on to some basic guidelines one can follow to improve the readability of the written word, and ends with a tease into some of the finer aspects of typography. The presentation concludes with two clips from Gary Hustwit’s excellent design trilogy that you can watch on YouTube: Michael Bierut on Helvetica and Deiter Rams on Good Design.
Like any worthy skill, grasping typography requires time and effort. Serious web designers would do well to invest both. This presentation though was made to serve as a starting point / basic introduction to the subject. Hope it helps!