Two weeks ago, I attended a focus group for a friend’s start-up, one of the hottest right now. It was fun, both in seeing the passion of the founder’s team, learning more about their vision and how it was received by others, and in contributing to something that is more than just a business. Their vision — in creating a new category based on their individual passions to meet a real collective need and improve life for all of us it — is the type of vision that excites me the most.
One of the most interesting insights from the focus group was also the most applicable across startups. A sign up button — as a gateway to seeing what the site is about — is like a stop sign or a barbed wire fence. It sends the message that users are unwelcome. Even when there is a smaller bypass link nearby.
The group seemed unanimous on this point. There’s a fatigue to another sign up — another password, more emails. We are hyper-sensitive and it that leads us to see barbed wire fences even in cases when they are not there.
This is obvious in many ways, and it has been for many years. But I think the success of some daily deal sites in getting your email address before showing their wares suggested otherwise. In order to overcome the fatigue and the natural suspicion of handing over your personal information, you must put up a billboard-sized welcome sign, the red carpet has to be rolled out through wide-open doors, and you need people to see and taste the feast inside, Maybe multiple times. And then you have to ask them to sign up in a subtle way.
This is less of an issue after you have created the category — think Facebook — but a real issue when you are still trying to create the category.