How To Test Demo Software

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Investing in SEO software is an important business decision. Your online marketing efforts can be significantly enhanced by a piece of software that closely matches your business needs and current knowledge level, yet a poorly chosen product will damage your marketing efforts and waste money and man hours. Luckily most software developers offer time limited trials of their products, which usually have very few limitations on the tasks that can be performed. But before you fire up a trial, consider the following 10 points that will help you come to the correct conclusions.
1) Don’t install demo software if you have a major project or very busy time coming up. You will need to dedicate some time to explore the software before it expires, which will require some dedication and time!
2) Install the software as per the developer’s instructions. Don’t try and manipulate the install, as the software might develop bugs that are not present in the full version.
3) Once installed, scan through the setup and quick start files. You will lack the time to read through all of the help files – particularly if you are assessing several software titles in order to make a decision, however it is important to get a feel for the basic principles. When looking through the help files, note how detailed they are. Poorly written help files can indicate a poorly designed software program.
4) Note whether there are any demo files. If there are, open them up and play with them. It can be tempting to jump straight in with your own data, but often it takes many months to build up useful data which will show the full capabilities of a piece of software. The appearance of demo data is a big plus point, and its absence is a negative.
5) Look for a link to online help facilities, including active forums. Online help files are useful when a piece of software is updated regularly, and when the broader software subject is likely to change (as in search engine marketing). Take 5 minutes to search for unofficial forum or help sites. The more unofficial sources of help there are, the more popular the software is. As a rule, the more popular the software the will be easier to use.
6) Set yourself a simple aim, then launch the software and delve in. Get a feel for the interface. Is it intuitive? Easy to navigate? Quick at running reports? Does it produce clear results that you can readily understand? Does the software help you to achieve your aim?
7) Contact the developers with a simple query. This can be one of the most telling signs of all as to whether the software is adequately supported. Do not contact the sales team (who will undoubtedly respond within minutes), so make sure you direct your query to the support staff who you will be dealing with once you make a purchase. Do they respond quickly with an effective solution? If you do not receive a response within the trial period (or if the support team will not answer queries from trial customers) think carefully about purchasing the full product.
8) Note whether the software is updated automatically during the trial period (or whether any updates have been released recently via the developer’s website). Most SEO software will require frequent updates, and if they do not occur regularly the software may cease to work.
9) Search for independent reviews (like those on SEO Software or ”>Amazon for example). Now that you have used the software you will more readily recognise what the reviewer is saying. Do they share any concerns with you, or do they like the same things as you? If any negative reviews ring true, contact the developers for a response. Will these issue be addressed in a future update.
Using this checklist will help to focus your evaluation efforts. It will help steer you away from seductive flashy graphics and instead draw you attention to the key issues of usability, quality of support and business objective fulfilment.
Happy testing!

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