I've seen too many µ-ISV websites that look way too cheap. If their software is good anyway ? In most cases, I don't know. Because I didn't feel like digging deep. If these guys can't bother to put some effort into setting up a professional-looking website, how could they bother making quality software, which requires way more effort ? You'd better have a damn good concept and not too much competition if you want to sell software with a website that looks like... I did it myself!
Don't get me wrong : We all know that the nerds who do the good software are not the great-looking sales guys who sell it. We all know that if you switch the positions, there will be no sale, which is better because the software would be pure crap anyway. But what the visitor of your site sees is neither the nerd nor the sales guy, it's the company ! And her first impression is what counts. Sales guys are good at giving a good first impressions but they are unable to maintain this impression on the long term. Nerds on the other hand give a bad first impression but may eventually gain credibility on the long term. And that's why sales people and back-office developers are complentary. Why many of them (from both categories) don't get that simple fact is beyond me.
Your website is not only some kind of open window to the world, it's truly your sales guy! The one that must be great-looking in order to give a good first impression. Well... Actually, your software is your second sales guy. Would you consider hiring a sales guy who doesn't look clean and professional (whatever this may mean, according to your intended audience) ? So why don't you put effort in the professional look of your website and software.
Among all tasks to be performed by an ISV founder, there is one that I, as a software developer, am totally unable to handle myself: Artistic design. I can design software, code it, do admin stuff(not accountance but I don't need it yet), setup web hosting, write contents for the website (even though this is not as easy as it looks) and more. But don't ask me to mix colors, choose a font or hold a pencil. It's just that these tasks are performed by a part of my brain that I think I don't have (Note to self: Sue Mom and Dad for not delivering all parts as specified in the catalog).
Mia volunteered for the web site template (Edited May 5th: Removed now broken link). She's not a pro but she's doing far better than me. The one other thing that I need is a nice logo. The logo will be used both on the site and in AppTranslator itself. Also, I want a logo that can easily be turned into an icon so it would be a good idea if the designers could show me the logo in standard icon sizes: 48x48, 32x32 and 16x16. 12x12 may be interesting as well in order to make a document icon. And art is like software: It's a matter of professionals.Er... You mean it's gonna cost me money? Real money?
No, I mean it's a good way to make
money on the long term. But, yes, in the short term, you'll have to spend some money to hire a professional. Actually, you'll want to hire several designers in order to see different ideas. Then, after many discussions, reviews, and... discussions, and... reviews, you'll end up with a nice logo that is the face of your product as much as what you see in the mirror is your own face.
The good news is that there are affordable solutions. Design Outpost
is one of them. You can even look them in action. Wait! You can even look at them designing the AppTranslator logo
Ever since I started the logo contest (and even a little before actually), I started to talk about it to people around me. It's great to see people coming back with design ideas some time later, such as the Babel Tower birthday cake (Thanks Crooks
:-) and the multilingual keyboard (Thanks Goran!)