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Instant app. No homepage

Updated: Nov 24, 2023


Hey, we lost our homepage 👋


If you were to visit streamlinehq.com today, you'll go straight to the app. No marketing site. No same old "get started CTA".


And you can export as many icons as you want without ever signing up.



For first time users, we display a welcome modal. Take a look here:


It's a bit uncommon in SaaS to drop the homepage for the app, but not all that uncommon for several B2C companies.


Reddit lets users interact right away.


So does Instagram. Have you ever seen Instagram's marketing site?


Nope, because people don't enter Instagram via the marketing site. They land on a profile page, an individual reel, a hashtag etc.


So, what should you do? Make all pages that people enter via ungated?


Not so fast.


Let's take a look at how LinkedIn personalizes.


1️⃣ Direct visits to a profile page have a compulsory sign up.

2️⃣ But if a user lands on a profile after searching on Google, they soften the ask a bit. People landing via organic search can bounce off. So, they have the ability to 'close the popup'.

3️⃣ And ungate it altogether when users land on a singular post or a blog article written on LinkedIn.


Linkedin matches the user's intent & motivation with the level of friction they can add. And that's the ideal goal. The larger a company, the better it can segment.



Everything will always be a tradeoff regardless of whether you're a large company or a small company. You have to answer a few questions:


1) Do I gate or ungate?

2) Do I make it compulsory or not? 3) Do I use a soft nudge or a much stronger one?


I'd like to share how we arrived at this decision. And what was the impact (good and bad) of doing so. After that, I'll share some more examples from other companies.



The evolution of our homepage


This was one of the versions we had 2 years ago. There was a navbar that I can't seem to add in the screenshot so please use your imagination!


And by all means, this was a pretty good homepage. In fact, I later found out that it was featured in Jeremy Moser's guide calling it the "perhaps the best landing page hero on the internet".



It's nice to know that a homepage performs well when you look at the data and reports. However, it's even more special when you discover that other people reference it too!


Having external positive validation makes it more challenging to iterate because you don't want to break what's working :)


But we did iterate.



Our homepage evolution: Second version


At the time, I thought it was pretty good. People understood our value proposition so well that they repeated it verbatim in user survey interviews.



We also had buttons for people to install a Figma plugin. So, people could build a habit of using Streamline in their daily workflow.



Our homepage evolution: Third version


We had a rebrand. And here's what it looked like.



In the previous versions, I had a very strong influence on the marketing site. I dropped screenshots and built out the wireframes.


But in the third version, my primary goal was to let the art shine.


My brief was "It shouldn't look like anything marketing has designed."

I think for marketers, we tend to own the marketing site and logged-out website experience. But there may be times when you want to give up that control. More so, when you market to technical audiences like devs or designers. Our design team is incredible so I wanted to let their craft lead the process.


In my case, I shared as much context as I could and supported the design process. I focused on CTAs, pain points, and value props. But beyond that, I didn't want to offer any direction on design. I only copy-edited.


And once we shipped, we were pretty happy with it. The data also confirmed it was a good move.



Our homepage evolution: Fourth version 🟢


After this, we dropped the homepage and moved it to a separate page. Now, when people land on Streamline, they are greeted with a welcome modal which they can close and continue with their experience. It took 2 designers, 1 developer, and me around a week to get this live.



SEO constraints:

It represented a step back in terms of SEO because a lot of the on-page SEO would be lost. As long as we delivered on the UX, our rankings wouldn't tank.


You may also have duplicate pages so you'll have to handle some redirections. I'd recommend visiting Search Engine Console > Links to see which pages have more backlinks before you make the 301 redirection.


Emojipedia/FSymbols handle this pretty well since their traffic comes via programmatic SEO.



Test, if you can

Quantitative: I had also A/B tested it over the years and we had data to confirm it would play out well.


Qualitative: People enter Streamline in more ways than the homepage. It's just like tools like Wikipedia, ShutterStock, and Emojipedia. People don't follow a traditional path of the usual homepage ⮕ app pattern.


With or without a modal window

We wondered sending them directly to the app but having that first-time landing experience would help address some of the value props and hesitations even though some users may drop off.


With or without an onboarding

Rows has an onboarding whereas we don't. Excalidraw is a diagramming tool without an onboarding.



It would depend on how intuitive your product is. And what are the current priorities for the team. If people fail without an onboarding, then you probably need one.


Do I trust my gut or data?

I don't think you can truly fully be data-driven. A lot of it will also come down to what your gut says.


Handing analytics

We've migrated to Mixpanel for marketing and product analytics. I wrote about our implementation here. Originally, we were using Mixpanel with localStorage and had to opt for cookies instead to make the subdomain tracking work.



Our inspiration


We were inspired by Typefully. They have a modal window and bento designed cards.



Another inspiration was rows.com. They dropped their homepage and saw a massive improvement. Their Head of Growth wrote about it here.



Sanity checklist


Do users get a value out of the marketing site or do they only click on the first CTA to enter the app?


Do you expect activation, retention and other key metrics to go up? Or are you only going to feed the app low-quality, de-motivated traffic. Marketing site can help raise the motivation levels.


Are there more ways to enter the app and is the app ungated?


What would be the simplest possible way for you to validate? Maybe via a paid ad split test? Change link in bios? Email CTA?


Do you have a horizontal product with lots of use cases?


Do you have enough traffic to make it worth it? Will the unit economics make sense?


If people reset cache in their browser, could they misuse the platform? Are you ok with that?


Is it reversible or do you have a lot of problems that can arise?



Why didn't I share metrics?


Lying with numbers is pretty easy and I could do that if I wanted to. But honestly, I don't trust when I see claims like "boosted revenue by 30%", or "bounce rate decreased by 24%" because more often than not, it only shows a part of the picture.


I often question these claims. What if your bounce rate decreased but you only had 1000 visits a month? What if the activation rate increased because you found product-channel fit this month?


If I did want to share numbers, I'd have to share everything with you.

- User count

- Activation metrics

- Retention data

- Vanity metrics like bounce rates

- Qualitative feedback

- Before vs after

- With modal vs without modal

- Impact on enterprise sales

and so much more.


Only then, should you trust my data. But since that might be too much information, I guess the only data point that you'd need from me is, "Hey this worked. It may or may not work for you but I hope you're inspired!".



But you can still verify by some simple math:


Say you have 100k visitors to the homepage.

Of these, only 20% click through while the rest drop off.


You could get that click through rate to a 100%.


Maybe users are slightly less motivated and activate at 15% instead of 25%.


Control = 100k*20%*25% = 5k users activated

Test = 100k*15% = 15k users activated


I'm trying to better understand who my audience is. If you've got ten minutes, I would love to do a user research call: toption.org/10-minute


Thanks,

Khushi


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