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Four Essential Tips for a Successful Online Product

posted 7 Dec 2009, 12:47 by Stuart Bale
I've seen a vast number of online products over the years.  For me, it's pretty easy to summarise the four key aspects of a successful online product.  I use the mnemonic "Play it SAFE".  Here's what that means:

S = Secure
A = Automated
F = Fast
E = Easy (to use)

Security is number one.  It involves every aspect of a successful product, and needs to be built in from the start.  It should be central to all staff in the company, and every decision should be measured against it.  Any security breach is news-worthy, and will damage the reputation of the product and your business.  Don't risk your customers data.

Being online means you have access to 24/7 computing power - so use it.  Desktop applications can be exited, online applications keep on living.  It's a significant point of difference.  Your application is also 100% connected to the rest of the world, meaning you can now access information all the time - find areas where it makes sense to do this.  Lastly, don't forget the power of referrals - automate the process for your existing customers to tell others.

Internet connectivity can never match the speed of a local area network, and applications running in the browser (in 2009) are clumsy compared to the richness of native Windows & Mac applications.  So don't make your customers suffer - find ways to make the online experience fast. Your customers will thank you for it.  (Take a look at for inspiration on how to be fast).

Easy (to use)
Applications built for the desktop have become littered with hundreds of configuration options.  Developers are forced to do this, because they don't know the environment that the application will get deployed to.  In the online world, you have complete control over that environment, so do your customers a favour and make some decisions for them.