Last week I started using the program Evernote to share weekly status updates with each member of my work team. The whole thing started after I picked up David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done.’ Reading about Allen’s intoxicatingly thorough system of personal organization sort of set me on an organization kick.
I borrowed the Evernote idea from a prominent VP at my company. Every week, each of my teammates uses Evernote to make a bulleted list of their top priorities for the week along with any other appropriate client updates, team updates, upcoming PTO’s, etc. I can then go in and make comments and add additional points.
What makes Evernote so useful is its simplicity. The functionality is exactly like a notepad that can be shared and edited by multiple people. It’s really easy. The client interface instantly makes sense to anyone viewing it for the first time and there is very little complexity to the program. In the past few weeks, many of my office mates have also picked up the program and have been using it for a variety of functions from organizing their personal to-do lists to keeping notes on client meetings.
Ironically coinciding with the proliferation of Evernote, Google has decided to “sunset” it’s product Google Wave. I originally signed up for Google Wave when it was released several years ago, but never really understood what it did. Reading about it last week, I realized that Google Wave was extremely similar to Evernote – except for one thing: it was much, much more complicated.
One of the things I continue to find interesting is the way that human limitations affect business success. In the case of Evernote vs. Google Wave – the fact that Wave was too complicated for the average person to understand ultimately led to it’s demise – even though it was a much more technologically advanced product.
For a new digital application to be successful, it needs to pass the “:30 second” test. In :30 seconds or less, an average person needs to be able to understand exactly what the program does, how it works, and why they would need it. Dropbox, Evernote and Quora are all examples of products that pass this test – and they’re all simple versions of products that already existed.
It goes to show – when creating something novel, the most important thing is to keep it simple.