Project Name: Download Comparison Site MVP
Create a minimum viable product that enables users to easily find and compare numerous downloadable content. This content will range from software, to music, to games - basically anything that can be downloaded.
The product needs to support multiple different data sources that can parse and organise vast quantities of data. The data would not only be a name, price and description, but a multitude of other comparable data.
This data then needs to be searchable in a User friendly interface that allows for speedy discovery and comparison of products a user may want to buy.
Once a user finds what they are looking for, they should be able to click through and be directed to the merchant's online store where they can acquire the product.
A front end interface that has a sophisticated search function and individual product pages, a back end interface for managing the data sources and if required, the individual products, and a robust database that could store tens of millions of products, with numerous data points per product.
The explosive growth of the Internet has meant that there is an incredible amount of choice for any Internet user. However, sifting through the clutter to find what you need has never been so difficult. Respective sector specific services have sprung up to help feel this void, for example Skyscanner (flight search), Rightmove (property search) and Deliveroo (online takeaways).
Yet no company has managed to solve this issue in the case of Downloads. There are plenty of services offering various types of products to download, but no single service has managed to solve this problem holistically.
A single destination offering a multitude of downloads from every category, providing everything a user needs in order to download the product that is right for them – and then continuing that experience after downloading.
The digital content market continues to boom, but the user experience of finding that content can be difficult. Whilst some users may rely on a single source, others might spend a long time trying to find the right content at the right price. Like most problems, this creates new opportunities.
With limited resource in mind meant there was limited scope for solutions and therefore it focused the mind on what already existed.
Looking at competition, the companies that already offered solutions for searching for digital content across a number of categories were the major tech companies (Apple, Google, Amazon etc). Their vast resources made it a non-starter to even begin to compete with them, and a partnership option seemed more logical.
Looking at other category specific competitors (download.com, filehippo.com) showed that there was scope for an MVP to be focused on a specific type of digital content, yet these competitors still hosted and served the files - something that was resource intensive and could not be done with limited resource. If the original vision was to simply help users locate digital content, then focusing on Google and other search engines threw up some interesting insights - mainly that inputting "matrix movie download" to the search bar for example resulted in numerous pages of pirate downloads.
Additionally, It was also important to understand the business model, how the product could generate revenue and therefore fund the future roadmap. Selling digital content direct had been ruled out due to the required ecosystem and competition, and therefore that wasn’t a revenue model that could be pursued.
The only other main business model that could be implemented would be through advertising - display adverts, sponsored listings and affiliate links to products. Further research showed that the platforms and networks existed that meant enabling this as a model would be fairly simple, and require limited amount of management time outside of implementation.
As both the initial vision, and the problem outlined a single destination for finding and discovering digital content, the MVP focused on achieving that in a specific category. Software was chosen as it was the easiest to obtain product data for, and was potentially the most lucrative as affiliate commissions could reach 50%.
The solution was Google for software downloads. A place where all types of software could be found and compared. Phase 1.0 features in the following roadmap were earmarked as part of the MVP;
- Display key product data (e.g. Name, Publisher, Description, Price, Platform).
- Page is sectioned to allow easy breakdown of key product information.
- (Multiple) Download sources with prices.
- Emphasis on simple and converting users.
- Single dynamic URL for products across platforms.
- Marketing built in – easy sharing, strong SEO.
- Want it, have it, had it – User Interaction. (Phase 1.1)
- Importer starts with either a core data source (API, XML) that imports products contained within.
- Duplicate products will be merged with vendor data added to product page (name/price/URL).
- Different Data Sources will be understood by the software, and mapped to our own data fields.
- A proprietary system will be created to resolve any conflicting data fields.
- History and Reversion – each import is recorded in the database.
- Changes to mappings and reversion to old feeds versions (helping us control quality).
- Supplementary data sources will be used to enhance the volume of data fields for existing products in the database.
- “Mix-desk” – horizontal search options using UI widgets that allow granular control for tailored search results.
- Search options easily added on intuitive UI.
- Category search in a “dock” above search bar.
- Suggested results and auto-complete.
Further features on the future roadmap included a review system, better database management, administration tools, phrases (for different languages and future expansion), publisher and user pages, and gamification.
Ultimately, the solution sends the message to the users that they can trust in always finding exactly what is right for them, and never needlessly wasting time or money by downloading the wrong product. This is particularly important in the current age of austerity – and also important for people who are both time and security conscious.
This solutions envisages creating a fully immersive experience for the user, cataloguing every single download they make, and that data can then also be used to inform users of updates for software, or about new releases from their favourite musicians, or of newly released films they might like. Eventually managing the entire end-to-end process, from finding, to the actual downloading and installing on a user device, to helping the user recover their downloads if required.
With such a major domain name, the potential is large but also limits what solution can be created as it has to relate in some way to that name.
The digital content market continues to be more proprietary - and companies are now owning their users to the point that the user rarely strays out of that particular service. However, the problem still exists of finding that TV show, or that piece of Software, or that Audiobook.
In this project, the solution was almost obvious before research even began - however, what wasn’t obvious was how many people were happy to forego the risk of not buying the right product if it meant they stuck with their preferred provider.
Additionally, the majority of traffic was expected to come from Google organic search but that space is hugely competitive, especially when downloads are concerned.
Finally, the beach head was never fully established - a way of penetrating the market and gaining early adopters and evangelists who would spread word of the solution and product. A better solution may have focused more heavily on community, and stickiness rather than just a simple way of finding products.> Continue Reading