Paul Graham: Design for “the person who has their finger poised over the back button” [clip]

I admire how clearly Y Combinator-backed companies explain what they do. So in his Mixergy interview, I asked Paul Graham, the seed fund’s co-founder, about what he passes on to the startups he mentors.

This part of my interview didn’t get enough attention, so I asked Joe (Mixergy’s new editor) to pull the clip for you. (Transcript below.)

Clip: How to design your site

Transcript: How to design your site

What you care about with most web apps is the person who shows up randomly.

You don’t care about the person who has already signed up for your service. They are already sold. All they need is a little log-in button up in the right hand corner.

So, what you care about is the person who randomly clicks on your website and has their fingers poised over the back button. Because think how many websites you visit every day, and most of them are no good. You just click on back and then you go on with your life.

So, you’re designing your website for the guy who is just about to leave. He is just on the cusp of not even caring what you do. You know what your website does but he doesn’t — and he doesn’t even care that much.

So you have to tell him.

You have to say, “this website is about such and such.”

And you have to tell him what he is supposed to do there. “The button we want you to click on is this big red one in the upper left hand corner.” That’s what we want you to do. So, at least he knows what he is supposed to do.

The thing that kills you is ambivalence, where he is like, “I don’t even know what this website is about.”

How many times have you like clicked on some website and you think, what is this startup even for?


Continue to the full interview >>

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  • http://twitter.com/360zz Thorsten Wehner

    We all have heard about this. But this guy is bringing it to the point. http://mixergy.com/paul-graham-design/

  • thereviewguy

    I love how you pull the short or critical clip from a longer interview to highlight ideas. I wrote a short post about 37signals' new book “Rework”, pulling out a few key points that are most memorable to me, people seem to like that idea, I am sure it's mainly because of the reputation of the book itself, but to me, a 2k visits day to my blog is astronomical and it says something.

  • James Jung

    Great interview!

  • Kevin Smith

    Look: it's Randal from “Clerks”, all grown up…

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