I’ve been thinking a lot about innovation and actually trying to do some of it myself lately, while developing reBlogger. What just struck me the other day is that most people think about innovation as making more and more stuff. On the web it translates in building more features.
Now, what if we reverse this process? It’s something that’s been done for decades by your high school literature teachers. Remember those essays you wrote and the teacher was just nodding and crossing whole sentences with red pen? “This is unnecessary…”, “make this sentence shorter/simpler…”, “good point, but cut to the chase…” This is also something preached by marketing gurus. These guys can’t stop repeating: Focus! Focus! Focus damn it!
So what I’m suggesting here is, instead of looking at the web application and trying to think what “cool” features could you slap on it, try to see what is really the main thing that application does, than isolate that and remove all the clutter. Think of how someone simplified 90’s style personal website and reduced them to what they really are about : content, regular content. So now we have blogs… Most of you probably still remember Tripod. Remember all that junk you could put on your web site : polls, forums, email forms, the ever popular random images, add to favourites, tell a friend…. So turns out, all people really care about is what you have to say. To be fair, Tripod today is trying to catch up so they offer you to make a website or “tell-all blog” whatever that may be. They don’t brag on the homepage with the huge variety of junk you can use to clutter your personal web site.
So basically, time is money, time is expensive… perhaps people care a lot more about saving themselves 30 mins while working with your application, than they care about the vast number of features. Here is my personal experience : Outlook had TO DO feature longer then I had facial hair, so they should be able and experienced to make a to do app, right? On the other hand I use TADA list… because I don’t need email client, I don’t need a calendar, and I definetly don’t need clippy – or whatever the name was of that annoying cartoon that appeared whenever you turned on office!