When you start building a product comparison website, you’ll be faced with a host of challenges, some of which you’d never have expected.
Affiliate sites can usually be released with a small amount of effort, but we want Blexr’s new products to be more than just a website. Our products aim to help our users make informed decisions and provide real value to them – and that’s perhaps the main difference that we offer compared to some other sites.
While our approach is user-centric, we still need to keep marketing best practices, especially for organic search, in mind. Traditional affiliate sites, on the other hand, put marketing first and the user second.
Here’s how you can create a product comparison site that people will love to use.
Gather data on your users
Building a new product usually starts with market or niche research, where competitors are analysed thoroughly. You’d want to get as much real user data as possible in as well.
However, even if you spend a lot of time on initial research, you’ll never find out every small detail about your future users. You can do market research, user testing and all kinds of things, but without having an actual site and users on it, you won’t be able to get 100% accurate info on your users.
So it makes the most sense to timebox that initial research, get easily available data and accept that you don’t have it all. But once you’ve hit the launch button, do gather that data as your site grows, so you can keep making the user experience better all the time.
Define an MVP
MVP stands for minimum viable product and before you get to work on your new site, you need to define which criteria need to be met to qualify for a successful launch. When you “only” want to release a website, these might be SEO-focused.
If you want to release a product that puts the user first, there will be a little more to it, such as technical, UX and content considerations. And while all these requirements need to be met to provide value for your future users, you also need to ensure a fairly quick release.
Balance all the requirements
Be prepared to satisfy the requirements from different stakeholders, during the initial planning of version 1.0, when working out the MVP and at every later stage.
Sometimes these tend to contradict each other, and it will often be a real challenge to balance those needs to find an optimal solution. Compromises and understanding the importance of every need will be the key to success. Getting everyone in your team involved and engaged in the discussion helps you to make better decisions.
Your version 1.0 will hardly ever be free of bugs, and that’s ok. You’ll want to release a stable version, but there’s no need for it to be perfect. Releasing value faster is usually worth more than releasing a perfect product.
Handle setbacks and frustrations
You’ve planned everything out in detail – and then it doesn’t go according to plan. It’s a matter of fact that there will be setbacks or delays somewhere along your journey.
They can and will be frustrating, but they are also necessary for you to learn how to avoid them in the future. Embrace them and keep in mind that you’ll need to iterate your plans as you move along, whether that’s before launch or in the first weeks and months after you release your new site.
Deal with uncertainty
No matter how well you’ve done your initial research, you won’t know what’s going to happen after your website launch. You don’t know when you’ll have your first users and how they will react with your site. For a long time, you won’t be sure if you did the “right” thing.
You’ll ask yourself whether it will be successful and when, and you won’t be able to answer it easily or quickly. So you’ll need to be prepared to deal with uncertainty and simply accept it. You’ll be monitoring your new product very closely, seeing whether its performance indicates that you’re on the right track. If, however, you seem to be off track for a while, you might have to iterate.
Prepare to have your patience tested
Dealing with this kind of uncertainty can be very taxing, and it will be testing your patience. If you don’t see success quickly, you may think about iteration straight away. Sometimes, even if you adhere to best practices, it just takes some more time to see positive improvements and all you need to do is keep going until you see results.
Don’t jump to conclusions if things don’t go as you had hoped. Give it some time, gather as much data as you can and try to make an informed decision.
Even if there are challenges such as the ones outlined here, the process of building new products is great fun. Working towards this common goal with a good team and seeing improvements along the way, which ultimately lead to success, is highly rewarding both financially for the company and for your personal satisfaction.