July 13, 2022

Treat Your Web Development Portfolio Projects Like Products | Landing Page Tips


Whether you’re an aspiring developer building out portfolio projects, or a software engineer building out their website or app in hopes to get users, an effective landing page will go A LONG WAY in helping convince users that what you’ve built is worth their time.

A long time ago, we used to get away with just being code monkeys, but nowadays, being able to code is only part of your job. You’re not just a coder, you’re a problem solver.

What problem are you solving? Well, you have to take the time to understand what problems people are having and what type of solutions could make those peoples’ lives easier.

A secret that some of the higher quality bootcamps don’t share with you is that they teach their students to build products, not just random personal projects. Your portfolio projects should be driven around building something that solves at least one problem for someone and gives them the result they’re looking for. This demonstrates a user-centered mindset that is highly valued by almost any company.

This is a different way of thinking for many software engineers, but this is key not only to exponentially increasing your value as a software engineer but also to making it much more likely that your side project could eventually bring in additional profit one day.

Jennifer Westbrook (guest):
Website - https://www.jenwestwriting.com/freebies

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Transcript

Don Hansen:

Welcome back to our web development podcast, where we help aspiring developers get jobs and junior developers grow. In this episode, we're gonna be diving into how to create an effective landing page, effective sales page, an effective homepage. Essentially, I invited on a copywriter to share all of our secrets, um, because I think a lot of aspiring developers, especially, but a lot of software developers. I think we, well, I know we have the capability. To create amazing things. I could even, we could put a pricing model around it. We can build a platform to be able to, um, support an email list. There, there are tons of ventures that a software engineer specifically can pursue. And I think kind of having your own domain kind of having your own, um, your own site to call your own. Be able to push out and advertise yourself in your own way, I think is really powerful, not only for creating applications, but also for marketing yourself as a software engineer. So without further ado, uh, Jennifer, thank you so much for coming on.

Jennifer Westbrook:

thanks so much for having me done.

Don Hansen:

Absolutely. All right. So you are a copywriter and that's mainly what you focus on, right? That's

Jennifer Westbrook:

right. I mainly write copy for small businesses. Um, and the I work with are in all lanes. I work with people who offer, you know, coaching services who offer sales we're consultants, who are real estate agents. Just everybody

Don Hansen:

love it. You've done some web.

Jennifer Westbrook:

I have, um, some of my clients, they are in need of a web design and I'm not a developer. I don't know, even a fraction of what you guys know, but a lot of my clients are newer business owners. And so they need a starter website, like something to get them going. And so I can build that for them. And because I'm a copywriter, I know how to write the copy for the website and how to optimize it on the page so that it converts into clients or subscribers or buyers, whatever it is that they're looking for.

Don Hansen:

I like that. Um, quite frankly, I can, um, you know what, I'm gonna speak for all software engineers. Um, we mainly suck at understanding the user and I think it takes us a long time to grow. I feel like, I mean, they're all, there's a variety of software engineers, but in general, a lot of software engineers are a little bit more focused on. A lot of the logic and building features and fixing bugs. And I think it's really helpful for software engineers. I think they can definitely up their game, up their salary, their promotions, if they really take time to understand the user, to really take time how the user is perceiving, whatever they've created. And a lot of software engineers struggle with. Copy. They struggle with what even belongs on this page. Right. I can make this thing, do whatever I wanted to do, but does that even solve the user's problem? How do I present that? Um, how do I create the copy around that? So, yeah. Um, on behalf of all software engineers, I think this is something that we need to work on. You know

Jennifer Westbrook:

what Don, this is something that isn't even unique to software engineers. It is unique to people who are in business for themselves, people who are entrepreneurs or, or even not, not just entrepreneurs, but anybody who's trying to market themselves. This is a problem for all people who are not copywriters . Yeah, because it's really hard to step outside of what you do. And share it with somebody else because we wanna focus on our technical jargon and the, the creating the thing that we do, but describing it, talking about it, helping somebody understand it on a kindergarten level, that's really hard for most people.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. it really is. And so. I mean, I'm personally focused on a lot of my branding. I know my own website needs tons of work. I know my LinkedIn page, so many different, like, it, it, I, I'm just learning about like how to make my personal funnel more effective and where like, where do I even wanna lead people? So this is something I'm super interested in, but I wasn't to begin with, cuz I think a lot of software engineers, I don't think they realized the value of even. Their portfolio being laid out in a way that's gonna make sense to employers and what are employers even thinking? What do they care about? I've done dozens of portfolio reviews to kind of go over some of this stuff. But here's one thing that I think a lot of aspiring developers struggle with. They, a lot of people feel like they're not creative enough to come up with ideas. And I truly think it's because they're not. They haven't trained themselves to identify problems that exist. They haven't trained themselves to put themselves in the shoes, uh, of people that have these problems and like a lot of software engineers need to work on empathy quite frankly. And I think, um, a lot of aspiring developers would benefit from even just coming up with, um, kind of a landing page to explain what their applications are doing and like really showing the users. Um, I guess that you understand their problems. So I think what I'd like to do is maybe we can go over some general advice for copy and landing pages, and we could talk about the different types of landing pages. And then if you're up for it, maybe we can go over a few specific examples to give people more context around this.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Okay. Sounds cool. So some general tips, everything you just said is spot on. It is so important to convey to employers, customers, clients, that you understand what their problem is. And that you're the right person to solve it. And it really is not a creative exercise. You, you mentioned that a lot of software engineers feel like they're not creative enough to do this. It's really not that creative at all. I would say about 10% of my work is creative, but 90% of it it's all based on facts and research it's based on data. So the way to get started with. Is to research your people and you do that by talking to them, and you may have already gotten experience doing this. If you have had clients, customers, employers, what are the things that they're asking for? What are the problems that they complain about? What are the things that they say? If I only had this. Things would be so much easier or why is this thing so hard? Or I just wish I could get to this place. So by reflecting on those conversations, like, what are the frequently asked questions that you get when an employer wants to hire you? What are the things that they're always asking? So those are the questions that you want to answer on your website, your landing page, you're LinkedIn, everywhere that you're writing words, you wanna be answering those questions. What do I do? How do I solve somebody's problem? What's the transformation they're going to experience? How do I get them to that dream state that they want to be in? And that really doesn't involve being creative. It just involves knowing your people, knowing what they're after. So you can kind of work your way backwards. The thing that you create, the thing that you produce. There's a result that a person gets once they get that from you, when they hire you, they get a certain result. So you're selling the results. You're not selling the thing. You're not selling the software. You're selling the result that the software gives a person. What does it allow them to do that they, that they have been struggling to do? And sometimes it has nothing to do with the actual software it has to do with what it enables them to do in their company or in their business or their life. Maybe it gives. More time to focus on the, you know, being a leader, maybe it helps them organize their team better. Maybe it helps them create better communication among their team, whatever the software does. That's the thing they're after. So we don't wanna focus on selling. The technical stuff, the features of what you make or the, the steps to what you do is the result that people wanna get. So if you start there by focusing on, okay, bare bones, what do I do? How does it help people? And then how do they get it? That's a, it seems simple, but sometimes I wind up on websites where I have no idea how to get the thing that they're talking about, you know? So make it clear so that people know, okay, if I click this button, I'm gonna get to schedule consultation with this person. Or if I click here, I'm gonna download their free thing that they're talking about. Or if I click this button, I'm gonna be able to buy. This software. So, so as far as copywriting tips go, one is you gotta know your audience and just speak to them in layman's terms. Like I said earlier, a kindergartner should be able to understand this. So that means simple words, no jargon, unless there are words that are just very common to the people that you're talking to, but you don't wanna use, for example, I don't use the word copywriting on my website without sort of defining it because a lot of people don't know what copywriting is. They think it's about copyright protection that you put on your book or your, or your, you know, legal thing. They don't realize that copywriting is about writing words that sell your stuff. So I make sure that I use words like words. I write words for your website. Everybody knows what words are. So think about how you can simplify. What you're saying so that people don't get lost in technical jargon. So that's very important. Another copywriting tip is to make it a conversation. Uh, people who are really technical, like, like software engineers may tend to wanna write super, super technical, but when you're trying to. Sell your services. When you're trying to market your, your product, you wanna make it a conversation. Talk to your, your website, visitor, your landing page visitor, just like they're sitting down in the room, talking to you because that is more relatable to people. And then they can say, okay, this person gets what I need. This looks like the solution that I've been looking for. And one of the ways to write conversationally is to. You know, read it out loud. If it sounds super formal, if it sounds really stiff, then you've gotta loosen it up a little bit. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure you're using contractions. It's simple, but it makes a huge difference instead of saying cannot, you know, say can't instead of saying, do not say don't because that's how people talk. So you've gotta write in the way that people speak so that when they're reading it, they hear that conversation that you're having with them. Even though you're not there. They are still able to talk to you by reading your. And another thing to do a huge copywriting tip is to go through your website or whatever it is that you're creating. Even if it's a LinkedIn page and make sure that you're using the word you way more than you're using the word. I, because really nobody cares about you sad to say, you know, I don't wanna make anybody feel bad, but when people are looking for a solution, they don't really care about you. They care about themselves. So you've gotta talk to them. From that perspective, you will be able to do this. You will experience that. Not I have all this experience. I can do this. I can do that. Gotta frame it from the perspective of this is all about you. And I'm just the person who's here to take you to the place you wanna go. But this is about you. So those are some basic copywriting tips that, um, I think are critical for any place that you're using words online. And then as far as just how things look, you wanna keep things really simple and short. And what I mean by that is when you're writing paragraphs on your website, on your landing page, you don't want to do these what I call walls of text, where it just goes on and on and on and on and on. You gotta break it up. No more walls of text, Don, your paragraph should. No more than four or five sentences. And really, if there are, you know, long words, maybe make them shorter than that. It's okay for a paragraph to be one sentence. I know that's not what we learned in elementary school or high school, you know, English class, but that's how we do modern writing now copywriting on online. We want people to be able to read it really easily and keep in mind that. A lot of people are reading things on mobile. And so when you're looking at something in a mobile view, that wall of text now becomes a huge scroll. So you wanna break it up into little short little paragraphs so that people will keep on reading if their eyes can't rest, because there's no negative space, then they'll just get overwhelmed and stop reading. So make those paragraphs super short and. On things like websites, landing pages, squeeze pages, the lines should not run all across the page because again, that's gonna fatigue people's eyes. So we wanna make those lines short no more than about 10 sentences so that people will be encouraged to read. They have enough negative space to not wear them out and make them feel overwhelmed. And they're not

Don Hansen:

this

Jennifer Westbrook:

negative space. Negative space is just space where there is nothing. There, there is no words there there's, you know, it, it can include something like a, uh, an image or a picture. Sometimes that is space where there's just no words where people can have a moment for their eye to rest. So that they can keep on reading when there's no negative space, when there's just words all over the place. I mean, I've seen huge, like from one side of the screen to the other, and then just huge walls of text. There's no space it's just overwhelming. And people are less likely to continue down your page when they see that. So that can really hurt you when you get into longer pages like sales pages. And I know we're gonna get into definitions in a minute, but when you get into those pages where you've gotta put more copy on the page. You've gotta break it up so that people keep moving through the page.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Let's pause there. A lot of really good information. and I just, um, kind of want to help this, cuz I, I think a lot of people, so first of all, a lot of aspiring developers, they, they get intimidated by building a project and they won't grow technically just because they can't think of how to. essentially like all these tips I think are gonna be really helpful for giving people a little bit more confidence on how to present. So like a, a big thing that holds a lot of front end developers back is we have to be able to build for desktop tablets and mobile. Right. And then when you're trying to build your website, a lot of people will get kind of just basic copy up on the page, but they're like, this looks terrible on mobile and they recognize, you know, like even five sentences on mobile. Uh, that's a long way to scroll down sometimes. And am I losing the user already? Right. And so if you can't as an aspiring developer or developer in general, if you can start thinking about the user and their experience on mobile and desktop, I think that's really powerful cuz. Companies, I'm telling you, I talk to design teams, I talk to UX teams and they love it. When I consider that in, when I'm actually building a lot of the front end, they, they absolutely love it. I get involved with those conversations and, you know, that can even translate into, okay, what is this going to look like? You know, what is, how is this media query going to change specifically to adapt once a user's browser does slim down a little bit, and I. If you have that user experience in mind, tons of companies are gonna appreciate that. And you can showcase a lot of this with your portfolio projects. You can showcase this knowledge, this, this care for the user and accessibility and UX and the user experience I'm telling you, like, if you wanna stand out as a front end developer, Care about the user. I promise you companies are gonna love it because it translates. Well, I mean, this kind of stuff matters with conversions. It matters with businesses making money. And if like all these tips are super helpful with just providing just a little extra knowledge for front end developers in being able to produce something of real monetary value for businesses. I'm it is just, I have to reemphasize this cuz so many software engineers. They. They for, they don't forget about it, but they kind of just like push it to the side that they think it doesn't matter. And companies do care about this.

Jennifer Westbrook:

absolutely. It's, it's critical. And, and, and you're right. It's something that often gets forgotten. And, you know, if you just look at website analytics on projects that you've worked on, if you have access to that, and you look at how many people are looking at this thing on mobile, I mean, it's just, it's, it's so much higher usually than desktop. So to. Omit, you know, looking at that desktop, um, version and making sure that, that the user experience isn't just disastrous that's, you know, that's a missed opportunity to really impress a

Don Hansen:

client. I like that. Yeah. I really like that. Um, I think another reminders you kind of mentioned, like dumbing it down. So I think. Software engineers expect their portfolio to be viewed by people that are super technical right away. Right. Like, uh, CTO, senior engineer, et cetera. So they're like, okay, I'm gonna be as technical as possible with this project. And I'm, you know, gonna talk about all the languages and I'm gonna talk about. The specific technical features that I built with it. Right. But this your portfolio, it usually actually goes through HR, or it goes through teams that recruiters that aren't super technical. And I think dumbing it down is a really, really, really good piece of advice for people that aren't technical. A lot of aspiring developers underestimate the number of people that are gonna look at your portfolio. Um, do you find. Hmm, this is, I, I guess this is like a really hard question to answer, but how do you think aspiring developers can talk about some of the features they've built without being too technical for people that aren't too technical?

Jennifer Westbrook:

Wow. That's a really great question, I think. And I love what you said about how their portfolio usually goes through very non-technical people before it gets to the super technical people. And so I think that that's the key. So you know that you've got to speak to the technical people because eventually it's going to get to them. Right. So that means your website or portfolio. It's gotta have something for everyone. So for example, your homepage of your website, let's just say, may not be super technical. And then when you dig into the details, like for example, when you produce a portfolio, there should be something that explains your work. That's not super technical. And then maybe you are gonna go into another page that breaks down the features of, of. The app that you've built or what have you. So, so what I'm saying is, I think you've gotta have both. So you know that the people who aren't technical understand what in the heck do you do? And the people who are technical know that you've got the goods that, you know, you're talking about. You're not just, it's not just a sales pitch, but you actually have the technical knowledge and ability. So I think you've gotta, you've gotta make sure that you balance both. But you should lead with the non-technical language because that's your first audience. And, you know, before you even get to the people who even understand what you're saying, you've got to make sure that you pass muster with the people who aren't gonna understand all that technical

Don Hansen:

stuff. I like that. I really like that. Yeah. I think, uh, some really effective, well, I know some really effective portfolios will have things called case studies that kind of dive into the problem. They were solving clearly lays out that they understood the user, but also, um, it's interesting cuz case studies can also get more technical. because you can share the process that you went through to get to the final result and why you built these features and the way you built them. And sometimes even it's like a lot of aspiring developers. They're like, I'm just gonna build an app. No, one's gonna use it. I like, I I'm a newbie. Like why would anyone use my application? I think there's a lot of value with retraining your mind and thinking these projects that you're building. what happens when you gain a user base? What happens when you have the goal of gaining users that are actually gonna use your application? You start thinking about how you're building these things in a very different way, in almost like a business oriented way that companies are gonna be able to relate to. Now, it's like when you, you shift your thinking in the way, even you're building some of your portfolio projects way too many aspiring developers, lower their value when their value is actually much higher. If you can come at it with the user-centered approach, like. You can gain users on your application, if you can. Um, if you can create even just like help a company, think through the process of creating their own landing page. Cause a lot of companies, they don't even have a website. What happens when you just charge 200 bucks and you build the landing page, you get to go through the process of, okay, well, help me understand your business and like working with them to create that page for them. Um, those are really interesting conversations and interviews.

Jennifer Westbrook:

absolutely. And I mean, you, you hit the nail on the head. You add so much value when you are able to not just create the thing, but also help with the strategy behind the thing, because you're right. So many companies will say, Hey, I don't have a landing page, build it for me, but you know, the $200. Developer can say, okay, here's the landing page. Thank you very much for the $200, but the $2,000 developer can say, let's talk about your goals. What do you need this to do? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to accomplish? What action do you want them to take? And let's make sure that this is built in a way that gets you there. So it's partnering. With your client or your employer in a strategic way, not just taking an order. So you wanna be the chef that, you know, creates the meal, not the waiter that takes the order. You know, and there's a big difference. So in, in order to be this master chef, you've gotta know what the people want, what tastes good. What's gonna get them the experience that they want. The waiter just says, okay, what do you want? Okay. Landing page. Here you go. So, so getting to a place where you understand your value. That you're not just a person who creates these things, but you're a person who understands what they do and what they are, have the potential to create for your client. And so when you offer that, Hey, let's sit down, let's have a, a strategy meeting to talk about what this needs to do for you. You know, now you're on a whole different level.

Don Hansen:

I mean, I, I like that. You even just corrected me in the fact that like, even even the $200 that I just, throughout as an example, you basically told me how I could make 2000. Right. And there are a lot of aspiring developers that if they could, they would do freelancing and they would wanna make as much money as possible. And you, you basically laid out. You know, if you get involved in the strategy and you take effort to understand the needs of the business and help them come up with the strategy and then eventually build it for them, like that takes you from a $200 developer to a $2,000 developer project. Um, that's powerful. I think a lot of aspiring freelance developers could really use that.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Yeah. And you know, and it's not just for freelancers, if you're with an employer, you know, you should always, as an employee, be looking at ways to add value. and, you know, I know sometimes it can be, you know, a delicate situation because you don't wanna overstep what it is that your role is, but you should look for opportunities to add value and say, Hey, you know, I have some ideas about how we can, you know, just make this more strategically or how we can make this really accomplish the goal. So, so I would say to people who are with the employers, you know, look for those opportunities to add value and not just, you know, take the order, but to say, Hey, you know, I had some questions about how this really needs to function for us. And I think X, Y, and Z, you know, is that what we're really trying to accomplish? And so now you're showing people, Hey, They're really thinking about what we're trying to do with this software, this app or whatever it is. And now you're a much more valuable member of the team.

Don Hansen:

That's huge. I remember. So this is why I love startups. And I remember when I went into my first position, I just told myself. Shut up. Don't make suggestions. Don't step on people's toes, just learn. Right. Which I think is kind of a fairly healthy perspective to have when you first join a company, just to, um, get into the habit of like being a little bit more humble and wanting to learn. But I do, I did realize very quickly that the company wanted me to speak up more often, especially when I started becoming accustomed to the company's users, the process, even of the whole process as a development team. Um, I definitely got feedback. So I was talking with my manager. I'm like, I have these ideas, but I don't wanna step on people's toes. Manager's like, no, please speak up. And like I noticed when I did, I started gaining more respect among the team. I started gaining more respect, um, with even just business and marketing in general, cuz I'm like my first company went through tons of layoffs, fired a lot of people. And I was, I was like the one solo developer left on the front end team. But it's because I got involved. With the businesses because I contributed ideas to the table and there were a lot of other reasons, but, um, it's, it's powerful. And I think of a lot of aspiring developers think that the only values that they bring. Is technical. It's just building things and being a code monkey, which is essentially taking orders and just building and that's it. Right? You're you're not critically thinking for yourself. Um, it's definitely an expression that's heard. And I think a lot of companies want way more than that outta someone. They want someone, of course. Soft skills and can contribute in other ways. But like they want someone that has their own ideas that can help, especially a startup grow and thrive. And even if your ideas are quirky, like be open to the company, challenging those ideas, but even just bringing up like, well, you know, I I've been thinking what if we did it this way? And you could even approach a different department and like, what do you think about this UX? What do you think about this design? Um, yeah, I've realized a lot of people. Would get promotions and they would get paid a little bit more when they brought that to the table. absolutely.

Jennifer Westbrook:

And, and, you know, if you're scared or not sure how much is too much, you can just test the waters. Like you said, you know, when you come in, absolutely be humble, learn. Don't just come right out of the gate. Like, Hey, this is what we should do, you know, but read the room as, as people say, see, you know, let me make this suggestion and see how it goes. And, and then you'll, you'll find out by the response, by the feedback that you get. If, if people appreciate that or if it's maybe too much. So, so I, I mean, I think that's excellent and you're right. It, it does help people to, you know, get retained whenever other people get, let go. I I've seen that happen, you know, and in my career and, and, you know, especially with startups or, you know, people who are trying to sort of find their way and figure out what in the world they're gonna do. They are looking for people who can help them. You know, so sometimes a startup doesn't know what they don't know. So if you see opportunities to tell them, Hey, how about this? How about that? They're going to be like, oh, I didn't even know that, that I needed to be thinking about that. And now all of a sudden you are much more valued to

Don Hansen:

them. I like that. Yeah. I really like that. Um, let me know if you're up for this. I'd like to, I'd like to present a project of mine that I was building as an aspiring developer and maybe, you know, in kind of exploring this project, we can kind of go over some of the landing pages or sales pages that I could have built. That you think might have benefited me you up for that. Okay. Sure. Awesome. All right. So I used to live stream on Twitch when I was learning how to. Tons of fun. Um, met a lot of aspiring developers, but also a lot of senior developers would stop by and they would answer questions and help out. And I found that some of them would even provide some mentorship towards me. I'm like this Twitch thing, live streaming, creating content. This is incredibly helpful. And even to fast forward creating content and, um, kind of just engaging with the developer community. I skipped my first technical interview. They just watched my Twitch stream and I, they just watched what I could do. Skipped it. That was awesome. And so cuz like I think a lot of aspiring developers fear the technical interview when they go into it and they're like, I'm just gonna get nervous and I'm gonna blank. And that happens. Um, it does happen. So, um, I thought that was interesting, but I'm like, I want to, I want to enable PE more people to do this sun Twitch and I think a big struggle is. a lot of aspiring developers or sorry, a lot of content critters. They have no idea. If what they're doing is effectively helping them grow Twitch is really, I think their analytics have cut. It's gotten better, but it's still a huge problem. And so I wanted to create a dashboard, a tool that would analyze what they were doing. And essentially I wanted it to analyze there's something called concurrent viewers. How many current viewers you have at a time, and then. You could essentially like per hour or per entire stream that maybe has a duration of four hours. You get your average concurrent viewers and you would always try to get those average concurrent viewers up, cuz that usually translated into subscriptions and other revenue things. And so I had this in mind, average concurrent viewers. How can I tell a streamer that what they're doing 10 to 15 minutes into. It's actually improving that average or is it lowering that average? And so essentially I would take moments within the stream of your average, concurrent viewers were high and I didn't build this feature. It was broken. It was a broken feature. I tried, but I wanted to give like clips this part in the video. I want you to go back and watch this two and a. Moment two and a half minute moment. And were you super excited? Were you diving into a specific language that people fell in love with? Were you going off on a rant? Were you getting frustrated and people just wanna see you frustrated? Like a lot of people will watch streamers for different reasons. So I wanna create a dashboard that would help provide data to help streamers increase that average. And so. I think I called it like streamer analytics, but essentially I just built a dashboard that I think it didn't even have links to your specific stream, but in the URL you could type your specific username and it would provide analytics for you. I think you had to like sign up and agree. So it'd authenticate. with Twitch, but you just arrived on the dashboard. Right. And you didn't really know what was going on. Um, you didn't really know what this tool was for. So what are some pages even like, starting with the homepage? Um, what do you think I could have put on the homepage to page to, um, what should my homepage have been for people that didn't really know what this tool was?

Jennifer Westbrook:

okay. So your homepage, what you're trying to get people to do is to sign up for the tool, right? Yes. That's the goal. So that's the conversion that they give you their information and then they get access to the tool. So we know that's the end game. That that's, that's what we want them to do at the end. So where we wanna start is by. Right at the top of the homepage, telling people what this thing is and what it does. So if you had to break that down into fewer than 10 words, what is this, what is this, um, app and what does it do? Like, and when I say, what does it do? I'm really talking about what's the result that it gets your streamers, that they really want.

Don Hansen:

That's a good question. So essentially, if I'm thinking about it in that format, um, this tool helps you, the streamer streamer finally figure out how to grow your audience on Twitch.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Okay. That's actually pretty good. I mean, I, you could use that in your hero banner. You could say something to the effect of finally figure out how to grow your audience on Twitch. Wouldn't that grab you? If you were trying to grow an audience on Twitch? Yeah. Would. Yeah on any kind of social platform people wanna know, how do I grow my audience? How do I get more people? How do I do it? So, boom, right now I'm, I'm already hooked. So that's in your hero banner. Finally figure out how to grow your audience on switch. And then you're gonna have a call to action button right there, because there are some people who are quick decision makers. They don't need to read the whole rest of the page. They're like, yeah, give it to me now. So you'll wanna call to action button right there. Um, so how do they sign up? They're gonna, you were saying that they put in their address, but do they, do they give you like their email address first or how do they get access to

Don Hansen:

it? Um, essentially they would, they would authenticate their Twitch account, basically integrate their Twitch account with my app and they would basically approve that my app could access their Twitch data. So it could get that data for analytics, no email.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Okay. So the way that you are capturing them is once they authenticate, then they're in your app. So you now have their, you now show them as a user, correct? Okay. So then your call to action button would be, and you may have to help me with the technical term for that. Um, because what would someone who understands all this, what would they understand in a call to action button? Would it be start now? Or would it be authenticate my Twitch now? Like what would, what would they understand? And they would say, oh yeah, this is how I get this thing. So it could be something like start

Don Hansen:

now. It could be. And so what I'm describing I think is a bad way to be able to pull in people into my advocacy, like even thinking about it, um, how am I going to charge and make money for this? Right. They're they're authenticating. Um, I have no information. I have no email with them, so I can't communicate with them. Um, essentially I think I just gave them an option to una authenticate and they would. You know, destroy that integration. Um, I think when I was thinking about it a little bit more, I'd probably capture their email. And then within that I would have some sort of button, maybe it, maybe it is on the dashboard. So now they have access, it would be on the dashboard and they could say authenticate Twitch. And I think I would give them like, it might take three hours or so to gather your data, et cetera. But, um, I think a better way that I would do it is to capture the.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Yeah, that was gonna be my next suggestion. You wanna be able to do more than just get them on your app? Right? If, if you're going to have, uh, an upgraded version that you charge for, like, right, isn't that how most apps work, you've got a free version and then you want to get all the fancy stuff, so you need to upgrade. Right. So in order to be able to, to market to them later, you're going to want to capture their, their, um, email address. And so. Maybe that's the button is gonna take them to an opt in page, or maybe it's just somewhere else down on the page where they just opt in, give you their email address, maybe their first name, if you want that information, if you need that. And then when they click that start now, then that redirects them to the place where they need to authenticate their account. So that way. They're still gonna get access to it right away. But now you've also captured their email address so that you can do some marketing to them on the back end, you know, like with most apps and things that you sign up for. It's, it's hard to not ever get any emails. Right. You're gonna get those emails saying, Hey, you know, here's some new features, Hey, here's this? Hey, here's how you upgrade. So that's the type of thing you wanna be thinking about. It's not just, how do I get people into this app now, but what's my end game. Am I gonna charge for this later? And if I'm not, why not? And if I am, then how do I start people down the path? What's the, the customer's journey going to be? And this is the first step. So, so that's how we can start. So we've got your, your hero banner with your promise statement. And now they've opted in and let's say somebody didn't opt in right there at that first opportu. So now we're gonna keep going down the homepage. So now you get to go into explaining a little bit more about what this, um, app helps them do. So you'll just give a brief description and on homepages, you don't wanna get too wordy and start giving, like I said, the walls of text, you just wanna give a couple short paragraphs and, um, You know, maybe some little visuals of what it looks like or some little, a little, you know, live demo that they can see how it works. And if you need to go into a lot of detail or into some technical details, you can have a button that takes them to another page. Where you can expand that out and really talk about some of the technical specs, but on your homepage. You're just trying to give people that, that preview of this is what you can experience. This is what your goal is. You wanna grow your audience on Twitch. You wanna, you know, sell your, whatever it is, you know, you know, whatever it is they're trying to do that. They're using Twitch for. You're gonna talk about how this has helped people be successful with it. So if you have some success stories, if you have some, um, testimonials people who've used it. Oh, my audience grew, you know, 30% in 30 days, you know, whatever little snippets you can add in there to show. Okay. There' some success stories. There are some results. then that's what you wanna do. And so then you all throughout the page, you wanna keep on giving people the opportunity to get it. So another call to action. Just like the one that we had earlier, because maybe now they're ready. So I'm gonna give them another opportunity then if there's something, um, else that you want to add, for example, um, like a, how it works section, you know, you can break that down in simple steps. First you sign up, you authenticate your account, then you do this. Then you do that. You can break down the how it works so people can see, oh, this is simple. This is easy. I don't have to be a tech genius to operate this. All right, great. Now we have another call to action because now maybe that person's ready to get it. So, so as we go down the homepage, We're just giving people more and more information, but not overwhelming them. I always say a homepage probably shouldn't exceed more than about 600 words, because if we have more than that, it can be overwhelming. But if you need to take people to another page for more detail, then fine, you know, have a learn more button. Um, after the, you know, how it works. If, if people need to get more into the technical details of it. So that's really what your basic homepage can look like. So you wanna have multiple calls to action, even one in the navigation bar, because some people, um, you know, if they see that call to action button and it should stand out, it shouldn't be the same as the other links in your navigation bar or anything like that. It should be something that pops out people's eyes are gonna go over to that and they may click that right away and opt in. So you wanna give people plenty of opportunities to get it. Don't wanna make them have to search all over the page to find it and you wanna, you know, keep it short, keep it simple, but make it results driven, make it focus on what this thing helps them accomplish. Not so much about the technical aspects of it.

Don Hansen:

That's really good advice. I wish I knew all this back then. I really do. Um, and I, I think I'm gonna give you a secret that a lot of like higher quality coding boot camps will do. Um, the reason this is, yeah, I guess this is cuz not a lot of people know this, but a lot of high quality coding boot camps will teach. Aspiring developers, how to build an actual product, an actual website that looks like a company now all day long. I definitely call out coding boot camps that come, you know, teach aspiring developers to lie. So aspiring developers get caught. It's that's a whole mess. That's not what I'm talking about, but what you can do is show that you have the knowledge to actually build a real application that you're gonna. You, you know, you're gonna put two, um, into Google, you're gonna create content around it. You're going to prepare that website to actually be a real application. People will pay money for that's the, a huge difference between like an aspiring developer. That's just focused on the technical stuff and a software engineer that's been in the industry and has like worked for different companies with different users, with different problems, and clearly has taken effort to understand those users, like even just building a landing page. For your application that really aspiring like HR, uh, CTOs, um, senior software engineers that are checking out your portfolio. Like if you can build this landing page that really presents that you understand what an, a real application looks like, that's going to make the company money. That's huge. And like, even just the way you're describing that landing page is the typical effective landing page that I would see with a lot of other people that are much more knowledgeable about marketing than I am, will do. But, um, if you are able to, like, I'm telling you, don't shy away from this as an aspiring developer, this is actually. Simpler than you think it is. And as an aspiring developer, remember, we can build AB test. We can present two different versions of landing pages and measure the results, put it into the search engine, post on LinkedIn, share your application. If you really think it helps users start creating a little bit of content, create a, put our account for it. Start, you know, there are different things that you can do in different platforms, but why not try to get users? And I. a very effective way at doing that is at least when you do shove that audience into your website, you have an effective strategy at teaching them the result that they can accomplish by using your app. I like I say this so many aspiring developers are I like, I, I get through like to 10% and I know a lot of people are just gonna push this advice out. I don't need to learn this, but I'm telling you, this is like, this is actually a secret that coding bootcamps teach. Two software engineers that make them stand out among the rest. It's really effective.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Absolutely. And you know, I, I'm a person who loves examples. And so what I would say for people in, in your field is look at the websites of some of the major software companies, like look at how they are selling. and sometimes it seems simple, but we don't think to put ourselves in those shoes and look at somebody else's website from the perspective of, okay, what are they doing that I'm not quite catching? So if, if you go to, you know, Apple's website or you go, whoever it is, and you see, how are they selling this in a way that anybody can understand. You know, if somebody's gonna buy an iPhone, they are not looking for technical specifications. 90% of the time they wanna know how well does this camera work, because I wanna take a lot of pictures. What kind of, you know, like they, they want all the things that are related to their life, how they're going to use it. So they're not gonna be saying, well, I need to see. The specs page, you know, break down. You like some people will, but, but that's not. And, and that's there for them if they want it. Right. But if you go to that homepage, you know of I'm, you know, Apple's maybe not the best example, but anybody who creates a software and you look at that homepage, it's not going be super technical. It's going to talk about the solutions. so, so I would say, you know, if, if you're anybody out there is not a believer yet spend a little bit of time looking at websites of, of software developers, like the, the, the big dogs, like the people who are the major players in your industry and, and see how they, how they sell it, how they market to their audience.

Don Hansen:

I liked that. Yeah. That's I mean, essentially, Um, essentially the companies that you would apply to, um, why not check out their website, their landing page. If it's a SAS product, I think SAS products, you can learn quite a bit from cuz a lot of software engineers will build a, a software as a service without knowing they're building a software as a service. It's not typically like content management systems or like static content. It's it's generally I'm gonna build a product that people are going to sign up for and use on my website. Um, Yeah, that's, that's pretty huge. I, I'm actually curious about this one. I used to see demo accounts. I used to see, like, I, I would say like seven years ago, tons of demo accounts where you can actually go into the application and use the application. I rarely ever see that anymore. Um, is that going away? Cuz I see a lot more like video on landing pages.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Yeah. Um, you know, video is so huge now, and that's just, if you look at just everywhere, you know, social media, just everywhere video is becoming so much more prevalent because people are just responding to that so much more. They want to, you know, see how it works. Like right away. They wanna see an example. They want somebody to talk them through it. So, you know, I think that that's why you're seeing more of that. People are want to sort of interact with a video and, and have somebody show them, you know, think about YouTube, how much people just are always constantly, you know, watching YouTube because they get to see this thing in action, without them having to really do anything without having to commit. You know, even if you do a demo account, you usually have to give up your email address. Right. You have to, you have to give up something to, to create the demo. I mean, I, I don't know how. How people are doing demo accounts now, but you know, if you have like some type of a trial or demo, sometimes you do have to commit an email address. Well, people maybe don't wanna do that. They want to let me, let me see it first, show it to me and then I'll decide if I want it. So I think that, you know, Video is just, it's, it's really the way that people are consuming a lot of content now. So as much as you can include that or incorporate that, I think that that would be helpful and you can, you know, test it and see how it performs. You know, doesn't work for everybody, but, but there definitely is a reason that, that you're seeing a lot more video.

Don Hansen:

Okay. All right. That's good to know. I think that was just for my own curiosity, but I, I, um, I've seen some aspiring developers that would actually create a video that would walk me through how their application works. I do think that's really powerful. Um, okay. I wanna respect your time. I feel like I've, I've learned quite a bit, uh, but I just noticed we're we have about five minutes left. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

Jennifer Westbrook:

Oh, you know? Wow. Yeah, that went by fast. But yeah, I would just say that that the, the key is to, to all of this is to not get in your own head. Instead, just do some research, look at things from a different perspective. Look at things with brand new eyes, you know, do your research, understand your people, understand how they talk, how they think, what they really want. If you can speak to that, then you'll be able to write your website, copy landing page, copy, linked and whatever it is, you'll be able to do it so much more easily. If you just shift your

Don Hansen:

perspective. Okay. I like it all really good advice. Um, Jennifer, I really appreciate you diving into this topic. I feel like some of the questions I was even. Wanting to pro I'm probably gonna apply those when I rebuild my website. Cause I'm currently doing that right now. But even the way I offer coaching and the way I offer different services, I don't want you looking at my landing page. So we'll, , I'll, I'll take some time and I'll rework that, but, um, yeah, seriously, if people wanted to reach out to you, um, anything else you wanna shout out? Cause I know you do take in clients. What do you wanna.

Jennifer Westbrook:

Oh, sure. Well, my website is Jen west writing.com. So you can find me there. You can reach out to me there. My email address is on there. Everything's on there. Um, I have a freebies page, Jen west writing slash.com/freebies, where I have all kinds of stuff. I've got some guides on there that help. I've got a homepage guide on there that walks you through the basics of how to write a homepage that gets you hired. So there's all kinds of cool stuff on there. So you can just go there and grab as many three's as you want. Get in touch with me and yeah.

Don Hansen:

I love it. Check our website out. If any of this sounds interesting to you, but to me, this is really helpful. Uh, Jennifer, seriously, thanks so much for coming on. Thanks so

Jennifer Westbrook:

much for having.