Imagine your dear childhood friend is moving into town and asks to crash at your place for a few days while he looks for an apartment. You’re happy to help and look forward to hanging out.
The friend arrives and sleeps on your couch. Every day, he leaves to go look at listings around the city. He tells you a few times how much he appreciates your hospitality. After four days, you start to get irritated by the toothpaste he leaves in your bathroom sink and the crusty coffee mugs he never puts into the dishwasher.
“Boy,” your friend says after a week. “It sure is hard to find a new place. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Your resentment increases. One week turns into 10 days. You start to seethe. Where does he get the nerve to impose like this? You finally blurt out that you can’t take it anymore, and he has to go. He leaves and you never speak again.
Most software is like this—an imposing house guest. At first there are promises and good intentions, and you’re hopeful that it will turn out well. But soon you find out you need to do a lot of work for the tool, and get little in return. Especially with enterprise software, your manager was sold on a certain set of benefits and assumptions, but now you need to work hard to make it actually work on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t “get” you; you need to understand what it wants from you in order to get anything out of it.
Tools that solves “big problems” are usually complex and laborious, and frequently elicit discontent and even hate from its users. They make you feel helpless, powerless, and ultimately like a victim.
We’ve written in the past about our vision for the next generation of management tools, and for us, a huge part of that is creating a product that’s non-imposing: it doesn’t force you to adapt the way you think and work to suit the technology. It works for you, not the other way around.
The only information dapulse needs is what you already have in your head, and our goal is to make it the easiest and best way to do what you’re already doing. That’s why we designed dapulse so that the board is a grid, rather than a hierarchy—it’s an intuitive and flat way to organize information.
For me, it’s a dream come true to build software that people love. I don’t mean love as in mild affection—I mean love as in real passion. To create software that people love, all you need to do is the opposite of impose on them: you need to empower them. Make them feel like they’ve acquired a new skill, and now they’re performing better at something than they were before.
For example, think about a regular ATM. You know how it works and understand that if you make a mistake while entering your PIN, you won’t be able to access your account. It’s a machine of mindless automation; you don’t blame it for making you walk through an annoying routine. You accept how it works and give it time and understanding to get what you need in return—cash from your bank account.
But I recently had an amazing ATM experience. It offered to give me the bills in any configuration I wanted. I could get the same $100 as one $100 bill, or two $50s, or 50 $1 dollar bills…anything I wanted. I was wowed. Really, anything I want? It didn’t cost me anything extra. The machine was giving me something it just as easily could have not given me.
This is key—love with software happens when you get more than what you bargain for:
- A long document you were working on magically reappears even though your computer crashed
- You were only expecting to manage projects, but now your team is super happy because each person is getting recognition for their work
- You can customize anything to be exactly how you want it to be
- You’re never asked to add information for the software to operate; you don’t feel that you work for it
- It’s beautiful
- It’s amazingly fast
- It’s robust—you can do anything with it
- Top that off with, if something goes wrong, there are people who care to talk to
These are just some of the reasons that people love dapulse so much. For me personally, it’s so much fun making a product that gets such positive feedback from its customers. As time goes on, it just keeps getting better. I really enjoy coming to work in the morning. It’s really challenging to keep up this level of quality as we grow so rapidly, but the feedback we get from people using dapulse is worth every ounce of effort we put into it.