4 Reasons Not to Hide the Demo Button

My son got an educational toy globe over the holidays.  The front control panel of the globe is almost overwhelming in the number of modes you can select (see the picture above for a close-up).

If you look right in the center of the controls, next to the volume buttons, you will see the demo button.  Your first reaction may be that this is a strange place to put the demo.  Why not put some other function here and hide the demo button out of the way?

The truth is, demo modes are very important and should be easy to find.  You don’t have a lot of time when a consumer is evaluating your product so you need to hook them fast so they want to learn more.

A good product demo should do the following:

  1. Draw attention to the product (that is why you often see the big “Try Me” label attached)
  2. Explain the main features and why they offer value
  3. Allude to other features so that there is a desire to learn more
  4. Educates new owners/users on their purchase (sometimes the user is not the purchaser) so they want to learn more

Here is a shot of the demo mode on the globe which does a good job of selling the features in less than 60 seconds:

TechCrunch had an article back in Oct. covering the importance of having a great product demo online to hook customers and the lack thereof on a lot of web sites.  From the post:

Consumers are even lazier. If you don’t have some kind of bite-sized hook that introduces them to your product, there’s a good chance they’ll stare quizzically at the screen, shrug their shoulders, and head back to Google to find something else that fixes their problem. Walls of descriptive text definitely are not the answer.

But just making a video isn’t enough – you need to make sure that the video actually conveys what the hell you actually do. This is apparently much harder than it sounds, because I’ve seen plenty of video demos loaded with screenshots, walkthroughs, and pretty graphics but still leave me scratching my head.

Looking at some of the web apps I use, a lot of them have demo videos but they are not always easy to find.  There also seems to be a trend towards highlighting the newest features for existing users on the main landing page vs. the intro product demo.

Having feature overviews and how-to videos are a major plus but don’t forget about selling the site to the new visitor.  Here are some sites I found that have made the Demo Mode a priority :

  • Goog-411 is one of the best.  The video is on the main page and clearly explains the product in less than two minutes (with a nice dash of levity).
  • Aviary.com (online image creation tool) also has a great demo video showing off several of their very detailed tools all under two minutes.

What others sites have done a good job of demonstrating their product?


  • Check out the Retail: Shaken Not Stirred blog post on favorite e-commerce sites for more examples that have integrated product demo videos (check out the stats on Ice.com’s conversion rates.  Wow!).