A few days ago, I participated in a small focus group about a new site/startup that is just getting off the ground. After sitting through the Vision, the pitch, and a couple rounds of "what makes a site sticky?", I could boil down everything I was thinking to two points:
Give me something useful. My time is the most precious thing I have. If you waste it against my will, you're out. I don't care if you're a great site. I don't care that you may be able to meet my needs someday… maybe I'll come back then.
I need something now. if you've managed to catch my attention enough to get me to click through to your site, I need to see what the value is right now. Make your pitch, you get a paragraph or a couple images at best. If you're the best at aggregating my news, great, say it. If you're a great way for keeping in touch with friends… difficult… but tell me why/how.
Get out of my way. This may be a variation of the first, but is even more important. Once you've convinced me that your site/tool has value, you've overcome the big hurdle. Now make it as simple as possible. Just get out of my way.
If your site makes any of the most common processes difficult, you're going to lose me. It's not because I'm a dumb guy. In fact, just the opposite… I'm smart enough to know when my time is being wasted. And I tend to get annoyed when it is.
And here's the thing… if this is a problem, odds are your customers have already said it!
"What do you guys do?"
"WTFf!? where do I go?"
These are all symptoms of the same thing.
When you're building your site, your tool, your whatever, remember those two simple rules. I have to manage my time closely to keep my customers and my boss happy. Odds are most of your customers/members do too. 😉