The Trick (A Rant)

If you are working within one company, doing internal development, getting user adoption is usually pretty easy. The Vice President of operations says something like:

“We wrote some software you need to process claims. Use it.”

And people use it. They may not like it, but they use it.

Likewise, if you are making an application that will be /paid for/ by an executive, adoption is similarly easy. You sell the executive, he pays for it, a memo goes out that says “henceforth, all email will be done by Lotus Notes.”

In both cases, you’ve got a monopoly.

But sometimes, you don’t have a monopoly. Say you are selling software to individuals, or perhaps giving away a product or service for free in the hopes that it will be used so wildly that customer organization will want to purchase support – even if they already have have some competing product.

In that case, the words of jwz, (mild obscentiy warning after the link) – you’ve got make software people actually want.

It turns out, that’s the trick. Make software people will actually want to use.

You say, “but Matt, that’s so obvious!” – if it’s so obvious, why don’t more people do it?

Twitter and Facebook don’t have workflow policies. They have open ended ways of helping people get stuff done.

Just something to think about.

Update: I could add that facebook might not even help you get stuff done! Yet it stuck anyway. Other updates: Beautiful Testing II coming next week. As for the scholarship, talk to the people at; they’ve allready got the money. 🙂

4 comments on “The Trick (A Rant)

  1. Matt, you can publish this or not; I'm just curious – where is the info in regards to basecamp being so wildly successful compared to MS Project? No one in this area has ever heard of it, it doesn't pop up when you do searches on project management tools, and the kindest review I've read called it "project management lite" and said it wasn't robust enough for large projects… Am I looking in the wrong places? Is it rated somewhere against the other tools?

    – Linda

  2. perhaps wildly successful is a bit too strong. But, basically, it is a successful company serving a niche you would think Microsoft should own.

    Basecamp is a product of 37 Signals? Have your friends heard of them?

  3. Another example would be WordPress, which has a large foothold in the blogging space. But you're right that it would be unfair to imply basecamp is in any way 'beating' MS project, I have removed the reference.

  4. I think you make a good point, though there are other factors. Companies buy big-name products like MS because it's a safe choice – nobody can criticize the manager who bought what everyone else bought, even if the product stinks. I once worked for a s/w company that made great products, but were lousy marketers. They thought "build it and they will come", but nobody came.

    I am surprised how much I like Twitter, but to me Facebook is a necessary evil. I've gotten in touch with people on it, but I don't have time for all the sending of green plants and good causes that require me to fill out my life history. If it were only up to me, I wouldn't use Facebook, but evidently peeps with more time on their hands have made it de rigeur.

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