Discovering a new site about to take off

One thing I love about being an early adopter is the discovery of new sites that truly offer me a service I want to use.  One of the disappointments is sites that repeat an existing site with no new service or hesitate in asking for constructive feedback.

While I could begin listing sites I have recently discovered value in, let me first make my quick list of what catches my attention:

  • Does the site offer an informative About page?  How hard is it to give me some actual information, even if you have a closed beta.  Tempt me.  Draw me in.  Give me a want to apply for the beta, wait it out and then dive in
  • Do you make signing up for the beta easy?  Most sites are good at this with a large box asking for your email address with some follow-up email
  • Do you show me samples of what the UI might look like or screenshots of your dream look?  I know it isn’t finished.  Hence the beta tag.  I do not like not knowing what your idea of the site I am about to use will look like.  If you are so early in beta you haven’t gotten that far, let me know.
  • Provide me a way to get in contact for press/blogging/podcasts to get visibility for your site and ask questions.  If you are not ready, that is fine, just give a way to let me ask.  Most of the time I want to have some early talks to blog or podcast about your site.  I know screencasts may not be possible due to the beta, but some early talks might be.
  • Provide a good feedback system or link to one that is made for that purpose.  Some new btea sites make this mistake while others invest in GetSatisfaction (as an example).  An email black hole does not leave any type of impression a user wants.  I need to now you take feedback serious and will comment, reply and note if the suggestion was helpful or even already in the works.
  • Have someone assigned to work the forums/feedback in a reasonable time.  Too often I go to sites to read if someone had the same issue to find that questions have gone unanswered for months.  Not even a tag that is has been considered.
  • Update a simple screenshot or two as the beta progresses
  • Involve your highly active beta users in small group forums/discussions
  • Think superusers to allow you to manage/monitor without investing in more employees (Foursquare did this and fell flat after the first rollout)
  • Post reasonable updates via a blog or newsletter.  Keep my interest.
  • Make the launch exciting and bring in comments and highlights profiles of your top users.  This makes users want to be involved.

I think that is a good summary and high end of what I look for.  If you are building one of these launches, maybe some of those will help.  I enjoy testing the sites, finding ones to enter into my workflow and hopefully promoting you along the way.