Note: This blog post is from 2008. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.Do you offer a product or service, or find yourself considering them? Here's a CFML-based product that really gets how to win customers. The other day, Ben Forta blogged about the new CFML-based Sava CMS. (Update: since this entry was written in May 2008, the product has been renamed to Mura.)
While looking into the Mura web site, I came away so impressed that I wanted to write about it: not the tool, but the site! (Update: Again, I have updated all references and links below for the new site, but otherwise everything--my text and the resources I highlight--are the same as when I wrote this in May 2008.)
This is an example of an organization that really gets things right, not only about making their tool seem appealing but making it easy to evaluate it without having to first install it. So often, I look at various other products/projects that bury or hide key info to help me decide whether I want to bother considering it at all, let alone downloading or even installing it first. (So often, we're forced to download the product and either install it or at least read a readme. Some people just won't be bothered, so the site really can be key to winning customers.)
The Mura site does thing so well. I felt it was a real breath of fresh air, and I really hope others will consider adopting some of their approaches, which I'll talk about here.
First, I'll note that I have indeed added it to my list of CF-based CMS's. I think some would be surprised that this now makes 24 of them, at least per my listing (some free, some commercial).
What they get so right
Here are just some of the stellar features they employ on the site:
- an attractive site interface, with a real fresh look and feel (bright, colorful, easy on the eyes, lots of pictures of real, happy-looking people)
- a "quick tour" set of edited screenshots showing highlighted key features, in an easy to use slideshow interface
- a set of "" pages tied separately to marketing, IT, and design folks (see the left nav bar)
- high-level features page and separate list of all features
- Quick start tutorials
- their download page explains that they offer the tool in 2 forms. The "standard" flavor is simply the source code (like you'd expect for any project, though they note that it runs on either CF7+ or Railo 2.0+). The "express" flavor is a complete bundled edition that is easy to install onto a machine not running CF (or that is but you don't want to tinker with it). It runs on Railo Express which offers a totally self-contained environment to run a CFML app like Mura, with the Railo CFML Engine, Jetty Application Server and WebServer, and H2 Database. See the download page for links to those parts.
- Of course, they have all the other expected things: FAQs, forums (as well as paid support), and nice docs in the form of a user guide, developers guide, and component API.
- I mentioned the paid support page, and I'd say that and the services page are just another example of refreshing transparency: lots of other projects/companies kind of hide their services, as if they don't want to offend people that they're willing to take money to help users make the most of their tools. It seems a missed opportunity.
- They also offer a list of clients, to help you feel more comfortable knowing others have gone before you, and they have a blog, which is of course a great way to keep people updated on things.
Great first impression, and a model
It's clear that these folks have put a lot of effort into the site and wanting to make the tool appealing. (If it reflects the level of care they put into the tool itself, that certainly bodes well too, and I'm sure the site could lead some to feel that way, at least on the surface, so great way to make a good first impression.)
All this is just such a rarity in my experience, and I just find it so very refreshing. I wish them well, and hope these thoughts may help some others.
I'm not knocking any others in particular
Indeed, let me add that I don't say all this to embarass anyone in particular about their site. If you think I'm talking to you, that's just your conscience, not me. :-) I have no one in mind. And I'm not limiting my thoughts to only open source projects: there are just as many commercial product sites that drop this ball, too, which just blows my mind. I do realize that open source projects (especially if they have no paid support model) often feel constrained to "afford" the time to make such a nice site. Still, this is one open source project that just gets things so right.
Who else do you think "gets it right?"
I realize, too, that there are others that do things well. I mean no slight by not mentioning them, nor highlighting them earlier. In fact, feel free to list here in the comments any other sites you think get things right. I suspect one that some would think of immediately is ColdBox, and its site, both of which Luis Majano has clearly put a lot of effort into.