For Anzu, Bruno and I identified that we needed to have something to show to people. We don‘t expect them to sign up for a product they know nothing about. So, we naturally reached the conclusion that a video demo seems to be a good solution for this, mainly out of two reasons:
- it is time and cost-efficient: recording a demo takes much less time than building a landing page
- you (the creator) get much more control over what to show
Also, while the views are not nearly enough to be statistically significant, having around a 45% retention rate throughout the video is pretty good, especially compared to how quickly people drop off from landing pages or even bounce.
I go into a bit more detail on the business side of making a demo in my post on Indie Hackers, which I also recommend you to read :)
For this post, I want to talk a bit about how the demo came together, where I took shortcuts and what my main goal was.
Preparing your software
I was underestimating how much effort it takes to prepare an MVP-like product to make a good looking demo. To show off your product, filling it with real-world looking data is key. Otherwise, viewers will notice. I sent the demo to an acquaintance and he remarked that it felt a bit soulless without more data.
Also, you have no time for tuning settings within the demo. It is to show off how your software creates value, not how many cool configuration options there are. So, be sure that everything is working, otherwise you’re gonna have to do more takes.
I also opened multiple tabs of Anzu with the parts I wanted to show. This saves a lot of precious time that would be “wasted” on navigating instead.
The demo project I created is just for show and has no functionality, but that is fine, because it still interfaced with Anzu where it was necessary. Don’t waste time building a fancy demo project, it’s better invested in your product anyway ;)
Recording the demo
My setup is fairly simple. I recorded the demo using OBS — just a screen capture and my camera (but as a square instead to save some space).
The microphone was an old one I had lying around (the Shure SM58), connected to a Scarlett Solo because my computer could not interface with it directly and generally the audio quality is a bit improved when using a preamp.
After all, your first demo is not about the highest production quality, but about showing off how your software provides value.
A piece of advise for non-acting people like myself: if you feel like overdoing your expressions, you’re barely doing it enough. Trust me, the end result is much better if you feel absolutely ridiculous doing the demo.
To me, this was by far the easiest step: I imported my video file into Final Cut Pro (which is really cheap as a student), increased the volume a bit and exported it. I did no cutting at all, as the demo already was quite well-paced and it feels much more authentic without any cuts. But of course, this likely means more tries until you get it right.