Re: Ideas for "Marketing" Abiword

Subject: Re: Ideas for "Marketing" Abiword
From: Jared Davis (
Date: Mon Aug 06 2001 - 19:52:21 CDT


I think that Mike's quite right about the "redesign the website" point. The
current site is useful, and serves its purpose, but seems mainly targeted at
developers. If we are interested in gaining a user base, perhaps we should
create a second web site targeted at users?

I have thrown together a mock-up of what such a site might look like at

This mock up is more centered around the product itself, and targeted more
at non-technical users. It tries to present AbiWord as a combination of
"neat idea" and "good product."

There are some particular things to note:

1. The downloads section should "just work" for the user. Some basic
regular expressions inside of a PHP script can easily detect what platform
the user is running on (most of the time), and this can be used to give them
the appropriate download without them having to know even what sort of OS
they are running. I have only taken the time to show what this could be
like for Windows computers. If you have access to a Windows machine, try
looking at the download page in that. Note that it can still default to an
intelligible list of all downloads if the platform is unknown.

2. An overall de-emphasis on technical information. For example, the
features list is much more compact, lists of operating systems don't appear,
and so forth. Eventually the site should include other things like
"netscape now" style buttons that people can put on their pages if they like
AbiWord, and maybe some of the papers like the interview with Eric Sink that
is so popular in the screen shots.

Let me stress: This is NOT in any way intended to replace the current site.
A similar look could, of course, be implemented for the AbiSource site, but
this site is more of a dual site as a "front end" for non-technical users.

It seems like we could use the domain name the same way we
have used it so far, but change the domain name to point to a
site similar in spirit to the mock up.

Anyway, this is just a mock up. It won't validate, don't try... if this
seems like a good idea to people, we of course don't have to use my
design -- do you like the concept?



> I would add Route 6: redesign the website.
> From the outsider's perspective, it looks like the pages haven't been
> changed in a very long time. (I know that's what I thought as an
> "outsider" not so long ago :-) The whole site gives the mistaken
> impression that the project has stagnated or is not very professional at
> all.
> The AW product counters all of that, of course. But we still would like
> to convince people to download it. To do that, they must think: things
> are going on, things are happening, and we're making news.
> I'm not talking about a flash-loaded site design, either. I think that a
> W3C site that is pleasing to the eye casts a good impression on any
> project as a whole as the central hub of communication. For those of us
> who have been around Unix and Free Software long enough, we are well
> accustomed to great software coming from ugly websites.
> But that's not the view of the end user, if the project would really
> like to attract many of those people. I guess it's like judging a book
> by it's cover. We've all heard the phrase, but it's still the first
> reaction we have to a book with an ugly cover.
> Please note that I don't think the website is ugly per se. I was just
> making a point. How about... It needs some polish and a tighter design.
> Mainly, making major design changes would help give an impression that
> things aren't dead here. After all, dead projects don't redesign their
> pages, but popular projects gearing up for a major release often do such
> things.
> I would volunteer to help such a project, too....

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