GetSignOff goes public

Paul Boag

Today GetSignOff finally opens to the public. It has been an interesting journey.

Part of my reason for writing this post is obviously to pimp GetSignOff and to encourage you all to check it out. However, I also want to take a moment and reflect on the lessons learnt so far. This is Headscape’s first application and we have got some things right and some wrong. I wanted to share all that I have learnt.

However, let me begin with the blatant advertising…

What is GetSignOff?

GetSignOff is an application aimed at web designers. It allows you to present designs, manage feedback and handle multiple iterations of a design concept. However, most of all it is designed to help you get sign off from clients.

It has loads of cool features…

  • Can be used to approve mood boards, interface elements, imagery, personas, storyboards, site design concepts or any other element of the web design process
  • Fully customisable CSS and visual appearance
  • Use your own customised domain name
  • Up to 30GB of storage
  • Manage unlimited numbers of clients, projects and designs
  • Create and manage multiple versions of each design
  • Add notes directly on your designs
  • Check to see if a client has viewed a design
  • Receive notifications via email and RSS
  • Each client can support multiple logins
  • Restrict client logins to specific projects
  • Easy to use interface (ideal for clients!)
  • Clear sign off procedure to ensure everybody knows when a design is approved

Okay, I have pimped it enough now. Signup for a free account and try it yourself.

What we have learnt?

Building a web application is nothing like building sites for clients. It has been a real eye opening experience and we have learnt a lot on the journey. At the minute my head is spinning but I wanted to share a few random thoughts. Apologises for their rough and ready nature…

  • Beta users rock! – The best thing we did was release a beta. Getting feedback from real users blew away our carefully laid plans and ‘all knowing’ attitude. Our beta users came up with some awesome ideas, and found horrendous bugs. However, even when they criticised the application they were amazingly encouraging. I can never thank them enough and would encourage anybody building an application to take a similar approach.
  • Cherish your users – I know saying ‘customer service is important’ has become a cliché but that is because it is true! People are so grateful when you answer their enquiries quickly and efficiently. You can defuse an angry customer by simply being helpful and attentive. It is not difficult.
  • Keep it simple – The temptation to add more and more features is overwhelming. People come up with great ideas and you have the overwhelming desire to use them. However, resist this temptation. I am so glad that I have read both Subject to Change and The Laws of Simplicity while developing this app. Both have encouraged me to keep things simple.
  • Don’t rush into features – There is also a desire to implement great ideas quickly. Somebody suggests something so good that you just have to add it. The trouble is this can lead to all kinds of complications. I have learnt it is better to consider an idea for a couple of weeks before implementing.
  • Pricing is a bitch – I hated this part. We looked at the competition, considered the value to the client and still couldn’t settle on a price. Unfortunately, it was hard to rely on feedback from beta users in this area. After all, they wanted it to be as cheap as possible. In the end it was Ryan Carson who helped the most. He warned against under pricing and rightly so. I think we all have a tendency to devalue our own work.
  • You only get one chance – This is currently terrifying me. You get one chance to make a first impression. I know the current wisdom is to release early, but if you release crap then users will never come back. Hopefully we have struck the right balance between quality and getting to market quickly.
  • Treat it like client work – This project stagnated for ages. It was something we wanted to make happen, but slipped because of paid client work. The way we kick started the project was by pricing and running it as a piece of client work. Only then did it get the priority it deserved.
  • Don’t fear competition – The first time we heard about a competing product we were gutted. By the third and forth we were in danger of slipping into despair. However, actually there was no need. Competition is good. It spurred us on and we even learnt from mistakes our competitors made. However, most importantly of all it made us focus. Until then we were trying to build an application that met the needs of anybody wanting design sign off. After we became aware of the competition we focused our app on meeting the needs of web designers. We decided to go niche and it was the best thing we could have done. While our competitors struggle to meet disparate needs, we focus on the requirements of a single target audience.

In reality we are just at the beginning of our journey. We have so much more we want to do with GetSignOff. However, there is no doubt that today is a significant milestone.

All I would ask of you is that you give the product a chance. If after signing up for a free account you like it, tell your friends and blog about it.