Leadership Development Needs


While executives differ widely, there are some common strengths and weaknesses that keep repeating themselves.

There is a small set of common strengths and development needs that emerge more frequently than others for executives at all organizational levels. While there are wide variations across individuals, the most typical themes are partly due to cultural pressures and partly individual make-up. Again, cultures vary a great deal, but many have in common the drive to produce results much more quickly than was required in the past, with higher quality and lower cost.


Typical Executive Strengths

  • Energy, strong work ethic – pace, long hours, willingness to stretch.
  • Commitment, enthusiasm – passionate belief in what they are doing.
  • Results orientation – focus on tangibly improving the bottom line.
  • Single-mindedness, determination – not easily defeated, resilience.
  • Persuasiveness – debate a business case passionately.
  • Problem solving and decision making – zero in on essentials, decide quickly.
  • Improvisation – act now and sort out the details enroute.
  • Organization – ability to turn chaos into order, systematic.
  • Integrity – communicate openly, no hidden agenda, deliver on promises.
  • Functional knowledge – expertise in a particular function.
  • A “typical” executive won’t necessarily have all of the above strengths – improvisation and organization in particular do not often go together.


Typical Developmental Themes

  • Strategic thinking– failing to think strategically about themselves – not prioritizing their work in accordance with how they can most add value. Being driven by what is urgent not what is important. Tendency to keep busy without measuring precisely how they are adding value. Driven by pressure to be seen to be busy.
  • Doing vs managing – micro-managing, getting too much into operational detail, dis-empowering their teams by pushing their own solutions instead of drawing solutions out of others. They don’t see how they can add real value by working more extensively through others. Working through others doesn’t just mean delegation.
  • Stifling innovation – largely by trying to do too much themselves and punishing mistakes rather than proactively cultivating a culture of creative thinking and learning from mistakes.
  • Customer focus – too little contact with external customers and tendency to fight internal customers or give them what they think they should have instead of genuinely seeking to understand the needs of stakeholders and striving to help them.
  • Listening skills – many have fair passive listening skills, but they make little effort to ask the sorts of questions (active listening) that create full dialogue, leading to real understanding of the other party’s issues, concerns or views.
  • Time management – taking on too much, failing to create shared ownership and being too reactive, no awareness of the 80-20 rule.
  • Diplomacy and political skills – the flipside of communicating in an open, direct manner, they lack sufficient emotional intelligence to see the impact of their style.
  • Inflexibility – either they can’t see another way of doing things or they have too strong a need to be right, often the result of a narrow background or being too internally focused.
  • Developing others – giving team members challenging tasks on a sink or swim basis with no genuine coaching. Or, their style of coaching is to tell them how to do it and criticize mistakes rather than use a combination of appropriate praise and open questions designed to draw solutions out of others.
  • Influencing skills – using only one style of influence – forcefully presenting a logical, factual argument with a win-lose mentality. Very little effort to ask the sorts of questions that would facilitate genuine dialogue and generate win-win outcomes. Public speakers, like Richard Jadick, are great at this.
  • Conflict resolution – arguing by focusing on areas of disagreement, leading the other party to think their whole viewpoint is being attacked. This escalates the emotional temperature of the debate instead of first emphasizing areas of agreement and searching for common ground.
  • Confidence – basing confidence on functional knowledge and being on top of detail instead of on broader managerial or facilitative skills which enable managers to admit that they don’t have answers but know where to find them.
  • Learning from mistakes – blaming circumstances or others whenever something goes wrong hence not learning from own mistakes.
  • Managing change – restricting their approach to one-way communication, stressing frequent communication but without enough emphasis on two-way dialogue or genuine involvement of others in planning the way ahead.
  • Relationship building – too little proactive networking, no time set aside to get close to key stakeholders and influencers except on an immediate as-needed basis.
  • The common underlying theme across these development needs is a narrow focus on me and immediate gratification of my needs. The me emphasis leads to pushing one’s own agendas and ideas, being overly defensive, not liking to look bad or lose and wanting to score all the goals oneself, hence minimal coaching and facilitating the efforts of others for broad, mutual gain.

Cyser – Apple Honey Cider


Cyser or apple honey cider is really a form of mead and it could be specifically classified as a melomel, which is the fermented product of honey and any fruit juice. Your cider making equipment is quite versatile in that it can be used not only to make cider but many fermented products including beer and mead. So let’s have a look at a recipe for something a little different, just in case you’re in the mood for a change.



  • 4 liters (One Gallon) Apple Juice
  • 500 grams (1 pound) of your Favourite Honey
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) Brown Sugar
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) White Sugar
  • Cider Yeast

Please be aware that although this recipe is unsweetened the cyser can be sweetened in the same fashion as any cider using any of the methods described on the sweetening cider page. My own preference would be to sweeten the cider to taste at the first racking using an artificial sweetener such as Splenda or aspartame. Alternately you might consider halting the fermentation process with potassium sorbate and then sweetening with honey.




As always cleanliness cannot be overlooked, sterilize your cider making equipment and rinse it thoroughly with fresh water then allow it to drain for a few minutes. The ingredients can be combined with one of two methods.


Method one: Combine apple juice, honey, and sugars in the fermenter, note that the honey may not mix in very well however don’t let this alarm you as the yeast will break down a lot of the honey as it feeds on the sugars it contains.


Method Two: Combine apple juice, honey, and sugars in a pot and bring to boil stirring gently as the mixture heats up, taking care that it does not caramelize. Allow mixture to cool to the ideal temperature for the yeast you are using before adding it to your fermenter. If you use a glass fermenter adding the boiling hot mixture directly to it will cause the fermenter to crack or break. This method of combining the ingredients is the preferred method as it kills off any wild yeasts in the juice and honey (if you are using fresh unpasteurized products) and it mixes the ingredients more thoroughly.


Pitch the yeast and seal the fermenter making sure you add the correct amount of boiled water to the airlock. The airlock should start to bubble within about three days indicating that fermentation is taking place. The cyser will need to ferment for around 2 weeks or possibly longer in colder weather. Once fermentation is complete the airlock will bubble far more slowly, perhaps once a minute or so and at this point you should rack the cyser, transferring it into another sterile fermenter or vessel using a siphon, taking great care not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of the original fermenter. Continue to rack the cyser at two-week intervals (or longer) until you are satisfied with the level of sediment suspended in the cyser. Generally, the cyser will become clear after two or three rankings.


Bottle the cyser in clean and sterile bottles. If a carbonated cyser is desired prime the bottles by adding one teaspoon of sugar or honey per 750ml (1.5 pints) of cyser before sealing the bottle.


Store the cyser in a dark place such as a cupboard at room temperature for at least three months before sampling. Generally, cysers do not taste their best for at least 6 months and sometimes longer. I would recommend sampling at six months and even if you find the flavor agreeable at this point keep a bottle or two aside for sampling when it is one year old, the taste might just surprise you.



Get inspiration from renowned cider companies, like Carolina Cider Company from South Carolina, to improve your recipe.

If you are using freshly made juice that is not pasteurized or sterilized you should treat it with one Campden tablet per gallon (4 liters) of juice and allow it to stand for at least 24 hours prior to pitching the yeast regardless of what the recipe states.

How To Make Delicious Wheat Free Pizza Crust and Pizza Sauce


It is important to anybody who is gluten intolerant that they can still enjoy a variety of healthy and tasty recipes and this is no different when it comes to pizza! This wheat free recipe will make a delicious and safe pizza recipe that can be enjoyed wholeheartedly. 



The Pizza Crust

1 tablespoon of dry yeast

2/3rds cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour

1/2 cup of tapioca flour

2 level teaspoons of xanthan gum

1/2 level teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon of unflavoured gelatine powder

1 level teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

2/3rds cup of warm milk or non-dairy liquid

1/2 level teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of cider vinegar

Extra rice flour for sprinkling onto the crust


The Pizza Sauce

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1/2 level teaspoon of dried oregano leaves

1/2 level teaspoon of dried basil leaves

1/2 level teaspoon of crushed dried rosemary

1/2 level teaspoon of fennel seeds

1/4 level teaspoon of garlic powder

2 level teaspoons of sugar

1/2 level teaspoon of salt

Toppings of your choice to suit your taste and mood!


For the Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, while Pizza Crust is being assembled. This will make about 1 cup.

For The Crust: Prepare your oven. If you still don’t own a proper pizza oven, you can see some options clicking here. In medium mixer bowl using regular beaters (not dough hooks), blend the yeast, flours, xanthan gum, salt, gelatine powder, and Italian seasoning on a low speed. Add warm milk, sugar, oil, and vinegar.

Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. (If the mixer bounces around the bowl, the dough is too stiff. Add water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time, until dough does not resist beaters.) The dough will resemble soft bread dough.

Put mixture on a greased 12-inch pizza pan. Liberally sprinkle rice flour onto dough, and then press dough into pan, continuing to sprinkle dough with flour to prevent sticking to your hands. Make edges thicker to hold the toppings.

Bake pizza crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Top the Pizza Crust with sauce and your preferred toppings. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until top is nicely browned. 

Calories, 153; Fat 1.5g, Protein 4g; Carb. 33g; Chol.1 mg; Sodium 635 mg; Fibre 3g (crust and sauce only)

Yield: 6 servings, 1 slice each serving

Ideas for Green Screen Video Producers


By shooting your next project on a green (or blue) screen, you have the ability to create a clean and stylish video production. Since you will have the ability to alter the background of your production at any time in post production, there are no limits to the creative direction of your final composition. There are a wide variety of chroma key backgrounds to choose from that will give your video production a polished look similar to larger video productions.

The basic idea of green screen production is simple: setup a green screen, shoot your talent in front of it, then remove the green in your video editing software and replace it with your chosen background in post production. However, getting a precisekey from your footage can be a trial and error process that could cause frustration if the original footage is not shot correctly.

Here are a few simple tips you can use to help make your green screen background production as troublefree as possible:

How to choose a chroma backdrop

  • A chroma key background can be any color as long as it is not contained within the foreground elements you would like to keep in the scene. Most video productions utilize either a green or blue screen. A clean key can be achieved with either color, but you will want to take into account the color of clothing your talent will be wearing and also make sure nothing in your scene closely matches the color of the background color you are trying to remove.
  • The more consistent and true your color is, the better you will be able to key the color out of your background footage. If you are using a linen or fabric backdrop, try to minimize the wrinkles and shadows in the cloth.



  • This is probably THE most important aspect of a good green screen video production. Having a well lit, consistent background color is key (no pun intended) to being able to remove the background seamlessly from your shot.
  • Having multiple lights will help to even out the lighting in your scene. Fluorescent lighting and outdoor/sunlight provide good consistent and smooth indirect lighting to your chroma key background.c. Illuminate your subject fully with soft lighting. You may also want to try to add a spotlight pointing at the back of your subject. This will help to cleanly “cut” your subject from the background and will result in a cleaner key.


Subject Placement

  • Place your subject a minimum of 4 steps from your backdrop. This will eliminate shadows from falling onto the green screen and will also help to minimize color spill. Color spill occurs when the reflected green from your backdrop “spills” onto your subject and causes the color of clothing or skin to change hue to match the backdrop . This can cause issues when the video software tries to remove the green from the backdrop and registers the green reflection on your subject.


Camera Setup

  • Try to shoot your video with the best HD camera you have available. If possible, use a camera that allows you to make manual adjustments to the ISO/Gain, shutter speed and white balance. The ISO/Gain controls should be set to a low setting. This will require more light, but will give you cleaner video with less noise and artifacts.

If you follow these few simple rules, you can create high quality green screen footage that will allow you to easily remove the background in your video editing software. Now you can replace the green screen with a virtual background or other video background. But, if you want to save yourself from the trouble and guarantee a professional result to your film, contact VFX LA.

Home Video Editing and Hardware


Getting your home videos off of the camera and onto your nice new HDTV can be a challenge if your computer and its accessories are not up to the task. This article tells you what hardware you will need to get your home video off of your video camera, into your computer, and onto a standard or high definition DVD.

Getting the Video into Your Computer: The Video Capture Card

One of the first computer accessories that you may need to move the video from your camera to your computer is a capture card. While most newer camcorders have the ability to plug directly into your computer’s USB or Firewire ports, older camcorders (especially VHS and VHS-C size camcorders) do not. If your camcorder does not have such connection ports then you will have to purchase a capture card that supports analog input. You would install the capture card according to the hardware’s instructions, and then plug standard red/white/yellow audio/video cable from the old camcorder to the capture card. Using the software provided with the card you will then be able to download the video into your computer, edit it, add titles, and then burn it out to a DVD. Be aware that the word “capture card,” may be misleading. Many companies such as Dazzle make capture cards that also plug into a standard USB port.

Storing Video on Your Computer Requires a Big Hard Drive

Another important piece of hardware for editing your home videos is your computer’s hard drive. Video takes up large amounts of space so make sure you have at least twenty gigabytes left before beginning any project. If you don’t, consider going out and upgrading or adding an additional hard drive to your system. When it comes to video editing speed is very important, so look for hard drives with very fast data transfer ratings. To get the most out of your investment you may even need to add a new SATA card to your computer to connect the faster style Serial-ATA hard drives.

Burning Your Completed Home Video to HD or Standard DVD

Aside from the video editing software, the last thing you need on your video editing system is a DVD burner. New drives by some companies such as the LG GGW-H10N can burn both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray High Definition discs. If you are using a high definition camcorder and want to preserve that great resolution you will want to consider saving up for either the LG or for another brand of drive that will burn in the high definition format of your choice. If high definition is not an issue for you then you can get by with almost any standard DVD-R drive.

Getting started with transferring your home videos to DVD is a little daunting at first, especially if your hardware is not up to the challenge. Consider the tips in this article, and do your research before settling on any specific pieces of hardware.

If you want to know more about motion graphics, visual effects and editing, visit VFX Los Angeles.

How to get a Good Google Listing

Getting a good listing on Google is pivotal to your website’s success. A few tips on how to go about getting your Google listing higher up the rankings.

Getting a good Google listing for your website isn’t nearly as hard as people make it out to be. You simply contact Google’s World Domination Department, pledge your undying loyalty and support, sign over rights to whichever of your children tests as the brightest and allow certain “testing” on your vital organs and…

Okay, I’m kidding. It’s way harder than that to get a good Google listing.

Get a Good Google Listing: What Makes for a Top Ranking?

If it were just one thing that would give you a top ranking in Google, then it would be easy and everyone would do it. This would, of course, result in everyone having a high ranking, which is quite the conundrum.

To begin to understand how to approach getting a good ranking in Google, it’s best to go right to the horse’s mouth. At Google Webmaster Central there an article, a couple of paragraphs long, called simply, “Ranking”. It gives one specific method to increase your ranking, which since it is coming directly from Google, it might be good advice to heed: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”

Getting good inbound links is key. Okay, so how do you go about that? Glad you asked:

Get a Good Google Listing: Get Quality Inbound Links

The best method for getting high-quality inbound links is to have excellent content on your site. If your website is informative and offers something attractive to others, then your inbound links will naturally grow as other sites find you and link to you.

Outside of that, you can exchange links with sites of a similar niche. If your site is brand new, more established sites may not feel they will receive equitable pop from Google by linking to your site, but if your content is good, they may trade with you anyway.

You can pay for links, but if you do, be careful that they are actually good quality. What that means is, you should only pay for a link on a site that is similar to yours in its niche, and that isn’t a junk site. Don’t put your link on a place that is just a series of links or otherwise doesn’t offer any good, original content.

Get a Good Google Listing: Domain Name, Titles and Page Names

It is very important that your domain name be reflective of the words someone would use in a search engine to find your site. If you want to sell widgets and crackers and your name is Bob, then bobsplace.com would be a lousy domain name. However, widgetsandcrackensbybob.com, or better yet widgetsandcrackens.com, would be perfect. People looking for your product aren’t searching for Bob, they are searching for widgets and crackers.

Make sure you title your pages in the same manner. The title should contain the keywords likely used to find your product or service. If you write blog pages, make sure the title of the blog posting incorporates itself into the web address. For example www.widgetsandcrackens.com/how-to-split-a-widget-or-cracken

You can actually omit the throw-away words, such as “a” “to” and “or”, but make sure those pivotal keywords are in the URL.

Getting a good Google listing is manageable; it just takes time, effort and study. Start with these tips and you’ll be on your way up Google’s rankings.

Conversion Optimization: Tracking Form Validation Errors with Google Analytics

After all the effort of getting your users interested in your product/service, the last thing you want is for them to exit your site because form validations were an afterthought.

Losing Conversions from Indian Street Addresses

After all the effort of getting your users interested in your product/service, the last thing you want is for them to exit your site because form validations were an afterthought.

For the last few weeks at Learnhub I’ve been trying to optimize the conversion rate of our school application form. This form is lengthy compared to most and we required that potential students entered their home address.

As an experiment, we hooked up Google Analytics to track every time a validation error happened.

We were surprised to discovered that 20% of users failed to enter their street address properly and half of those users then exited the site. This was a big warning sign that our validations need improvement.


So we began to look into why this is happening in more detail.

We realized that our indian users were skipping the address not because they didn’t want to share it but because Indian addresses are really complicated.

In India, especially in smaller towns, street address’s are not as established as other parts of the world. If they did know it, it frequently looked like this: 83, LAXMI APPT., SEC-5, PLOT NO-27/8, ROHINI.

Asking someone to type that out is a usability nightmare.

From this data we now had a new starting point for improving conversions: by making the process of entering address easier or by making the field optional.

How Did We Track Validation Errors with Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics they have an awesome feature called event tracking that can be easily trigger by on-page javascript.

Our site was developed with Rails so when a field fails to validate, it automatically gets wrapped in a div.

<div class="fieldWithErrors">
    <input id="question_8_street_address" name="question_8[street_address]" type="text" value="" />

So we wrote up a tiny script that:

  1. scans the page for any divs with fieldWithErrors
  2. grabs the ID of the form field

sends an event to Google Analytics with the label “Validation Error” and the value as the fields ID

The script (prototype):

 $$('div.fieldWithErrors').each(function(field) {
   pageTracker._trackEvent('Form', 'Validation Error', field.down().identify());

With this data you can see see how many exited the form, what country they are from, validations per user, etc.

Fixing the Problem Fields

It may be beneficial to minimize the required fields to get that initial commitment.

Just like the old sales adage, if you can get the customer to say yes the first time it will be easier to get them to say yes later on for the bigger commitment.

Making fields a requirement is always a tough balance between hurting the forms usability and getting the information you want.

If you do decided to skip the tough questions early on, a process could be set up to get the needed information later on from something like a follow-up email or secondary form.

Either way it helps to have the analytics data to back it up those decisions.

Optimizing Retail Websites for Maximum Search Rankings

Getting a website to rank on the first page of search listings is critical in a site’s ability to be seen. Here’s how to get maximum ranking every time.

Getting a website to rank on the first page of a search, and ideally, within the top three listings, is not just important to a retailer, it’s critical. “Very few searchers will look past the first page,” says Matt Kain, chief revenue officer at The Search Agency. “Even on the first page, the lion’s share of the clicks — something like 40 percent — goes to the No. 1 result, and the difference between positions 1 and 2 could be a significant drop-off.”

Preparing a Site for the Highest Possible Return

One expert recommends starting with a complete site and searches audit. “We look at architecture, page construction, content, link popularity, and web server configuration,” explains John McCarthy, director of SEO for digital agency WebMetro. They then prioritize areas for improvement by ROI.

Rob Garner, senior strategy director for digital agency iCrossing, says that the best time to optimize a website for search is when it’s being built, because “it can cost 10 times as much to re-engineer later.” He recommends staying away from rich media applications such as Flash and Ajax that make it difficult to rework tags after the fact.

The first step to gaining maximum search engine exposure is to ensure that all content is indexed. “Meta tags” are a description of the content that includes a title, author, keywords and an explanatory sentence, among other information. Very often, when a site comes up in a search result, it is the meta tag description that appears, so it is critical that meta tags be precise and informative, Garner says.

Kain adds that the most important thing to consider with meta tags is the title and of that, the first few words.

Also important are “alt attribute” tags. If a person visiting a webpage has images turned off, the alt attribute tag allows them to see a text description of the picture — i.e., “iPhone case, black leather, flip top”, rather than an empty box where a graphic should be. Alt tags, Kain says, as well as the directory file path for the image itself should reinforce keywords and phrases the page is relevant for.

Improving Site Rankings

Site rankings can be improved by writing detailed and descriptive content. “A site will never rank on page one for a broad category like ‘high heels’,” Garner says. A description such as ‘dark brown peek-toed pumps’ has a better chance of generating a higher ranking. Google’s Website Optimizer is helpful for testing keywords to see how they will rank.

Also, the content should look natural. Rather than repeating words, add unique content such as an editor’s product review or links to sites with related information, such as health and fitness articles next to running shoes. Search engines consider all of that content in determining rankings. In addition, graphics should be a label with the same level of detail, rather than “image1.jpg”.

McCarthy recommends ‘latent semantic indexing’, which means using other words to help define a primary keyword phrase. For example, “If I talk about shoes, the search engines don’t know what kind. If I mention stirrups and a saddle, you know I’m talking about horseshoes; Mustangs and Raybestos, you know I’m talking about brake shoes; with Nike and Puma, ’m talking about running shoes.”

Finally, pages can only be optimized for so many keywords per page. A page is not going to rank first for both “cellphone case” and “squirt guns”. Choose the one with the highest value.

Next Steps

After optimizing content, there are two additional strategies worth considering. The first is uploading content to Google Base. Google Base is a free database that helps search engines find content. It accepts both XML and Excel spreadsheets for one listing or thousands. Yahoo! offers a similar product.

Another key to elevating search rank is securing links from suppliers, partners and other sites, such as enthusiast groups or related events.

How We Improved Our Conversion Rate by 72%

One of my favourite parts of creating web apps is being able to make subtle changes to our sales pages and see the impact it has on our signups.

With CareLogger being a side project, our time available for marketing is limited. We found conversion optimization to be a good way to spend 30 minutes once a week refining our pitch to customers. It also maximizes the number of signups so we have access to more people to conduct customer development with.

After these 3 experiments, our free signup conversion rate went from 14.5% to 25%, a 72% improvement.

1) Including a pain point in our headline

When we launched the site our headline said Keeping Tabs on Your Diabetes Just Got A Lot Easier:

While this explained in very general terms a benefit of our product it didn’t hit on the real need that people had when they decided to keep a logbook to record their diabetes. Making your life easier is what almost every product promises.

People weren’t looking for our software because it was easier than what they currently do. They wanted better insight into their illness so they can stay as healthy as possible.

So we changed our message to Maintain Your Optimal Health by Keeping Tabs on Your Diabetes. We also highlighted the most important benefit “Optimal Health” with green.

This change resulted in a 31% increase in conversion after 1000 trials (our metric was signing up). Not bad at all.

2) Changing our signup button from Green to Red

Earlier this week I came across an article by Performable that explained how changing their call-to-action from green to red increased conversion by 21%.

I had to try it out so that day I set up an A/B test on our homepage call-to-action.

So far we’ve had 600 participants and our conversion rate has increased by 34%.

We generally wait until 1000 trials but so far the results have been pretty significant.

We believe that it was so effective because we used green on many other parts of the landing page and the red just stands out so much more. It’s all about contrast.

3) Changing our button text from “Signup for Free” to “Get Started Now”

We also experimented with changing the button text on the call to action to form “Signup for Free” to “Get Started Now”. This one had a smaller effect, after 1000 trials our conversion rate improved by 7%.

The difference in this one is that “Get Started Now” is an easier sounding commitment than signing up. Signing up also has connotations with paying (our app is free).

Next up we’re going to try alternating the stock photo on the homepage from a male/female couple to a doctor and patient.

10 Inspiring SaaS Website Designs

I have been researching SaaS companies recently and wanted to a share few well-designed sites I’ve had bookmarked. These sites are usually the first thing their customers sees, but many companies I came across overlooked the design of their sites so here are a few that really stood out.

Site: SquareSpace

Why: It looks like the design of SquareSpace is it’s the biggest selling point. The site has an intro video front and center with large screenshots of the software taking up most of the page. That doesn’t seem to be a bad thing either. (I like dark designs for some reason).
Best Feature: Pricing page, it’s very simple and focuses on customer objections at the bottom.

Site: Vertical Response

Why: It takes about 3 seconds to figure out what Vertical response is. Too many SaaS sites are ambiguous when it comes to explaining what their product does. The copy on the site is interesting and gets to the point.
Best Feature: Landing page right at the beginning to converts visitors to leads.

Site: Jive Software

Why: About a month ago the home page of Jives site mainly had a pointless 3d animation of their logo and little information. They recently updated the home page to focus back on the products, which is a nice improvement.
Best Feature: Customers page, nothing builds trust better then a list of well-known customers and Jive has no shortage of them.

Site: Rival Map

Why: They are selling a unique type of software that they communicate well. There is very little clutter and they don’t try to oversell.
Best Feature: Product Tour, they offer a simple walkthrough of all the features with a nice video.

Site: Campaign Monitor

Why: The colorful front page stands out and should appeal to their target market, web designers. They do a good job of communicating the simplicity of the product and pricing over the existing email marketing companies.
Best Feature: Content Focus, everything on the site is focused on its target market from its home page to the articles helping developers sell email services to clients.

Site: Helpstream

Why: Although not the most usable site ever created, the design is unique and memorable.
Best Feature: 3d-Chart, I have seen this type of chart used before, but Helpstream did it well.

Site: Taleo

Why: They sell multiple complex products to the enterprise market. Naturally, a lot of the site is content heavy but it is presented in a welcoming way. What I found interesting was how they divided content into the different areas.
Best Feature: Usage stats on the front page. With 2.5 million users it’s clearly proven there is value in the software.

Site: SuccessFactors

Why: Another site with a customer base it’s not afraid to promote. The product descriptions are also clear and well written. No endless feature lists or lengthy copy.
Best Feature: Testimonial Videos, gives their customers a face, not just a logo.

Site: Zuora

Why: They focus on the most positive aspect of the company: the founding team behind the software. This builds credibility and focuses less on the product, which is too new and unproven.
Best Feature: About Page, they clearly show the quality of the management team.

Site: Zendesk

Why: The first thing that stands out with Zen Desks site is the pricing is very prevalent on the home page. Too many business software sites hide their pricing deep in the site or require your phone number to have a sales rep call. Zen Desk is not afraid to show the price, which helps customers compare it to other products and figure out whether or not it is suited for their business.
Best Feature: Customer Testimonials speak for themselves.