Software Integrations are the Future
Since VisiCalc, software has come a long way. There are many specialized solutions available for every business need: invoicing, CRM file management, file management, mail, document editing, and many other all-in-one solutions that combine all of these. We know this. ActiveCollab could have done everything. ActiveCollab is a project management tool that facilitates collaboration. It must solve a specific set of project management problems.
We used to give out features quite often in the past. We thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do this and that?” and implemented the functionality and shipped it. The end result was a complex app that did many things. However, not enough people were using them to warrant their inclusion. It was a small number of customers that couldn’t use a particular feature, while others didn’t require it. This created unnecessary clutter. This led to experience rot. Our existing customers got more functionality, but it was more difficult to acquire new users. In today’s saturated SaaS market, where app ideas are a dime a dozen, you have to pay special attention to UX. UX is the key to customer acquisition.
After someone has decided to try the app, they need to continue using it for at least one minute. How do you do that? It is important to not scare them. Users come to our website looking to find a project management application. The screenshots look good enough to give a try. Once they open the app, however, we must make it as simple as possible for them to create a project and add the first task. If they (or their coworkers fail the attention test), they’ll close the tab and leave us as a trace in their browser’s history. But if we can hold their attention for at most a minute, each minute becomes exponentially easier. The best way to keep their attention is to clearly explain what the app does. But that’s difficult if there are a million things you can do.
We work with many people, exchange lots of emails, and keep each other informed about many things. ActiveCollab allows people to store all their information in one place. This makes it easy for others to not have to send emails asking for specific information or to contact you to ask where it is. There are better ways to do this than to create a code repository and calculate complex invoicing calculations. Integrations. This is the direction that software development is heading. We are not trying to create one app that fulfills all users’ needs. Instead, we are focusing on one thing and integrating with specialized applications that know how to do their jobs: file versioning, storage.