Most startups spend all their time on optimizing the experience for registered and logged in users. But what about those who come to a site through a link? Or right to the home page by either typing the company’s URL or more likely searching for the company name. Most companies spend very little time on this which is a mistake because it is the top of the user acquisition funnel.
Companies that get the logged out experience right can get a lot of mileage from that. In particular showing immediate content and only then driving users into either registration or app download seems to work well. Pinterest did a great job with this both for deep links and for the homepage. Instagram's deep link pages are fantastic — you see the photograph but the second you want to take an action (e.g. heart) you are driven into registration.
I was thrilled to see foursquare earlier this week launch a logged out version of “explore” giving immediate utility to anyone coming to the home page. Venue pages, such as the one for Union Square Ventures, also have a strong calls to action now for users who are not logged in. This is a great way of activating the top of the funnel.