Recently I heard an ad on a podcast for a major, well-known accounting software that has millions of customers. The ad focused on how the software had been “rebuilt from the ground up, focusing on simplicity and speed.” That made me laugh.
When you build a software to solve a common business problem, you almost always start out focused on simplicity and speed. You provide a clean, quick solution to a common business problem. If you can do that, customers will gladly pay you.
Clearly this company did that when they first launched, years ago. That’s why so many people became customers. But they fell for the trap many software companies fall for: the feature trap. They kept adding tools and buttons and settings and features and so forth, thinking more is better.
It happens all the time. You tell yourself that if you add this feature or that tool you will keep more customers or get more customers, but what ultimately happens is you upset the customers who loved your product for it’s simplicity and speed, and you turn off potential customers who are looking for those qualities.
This is common when you start out serving small businesses, who have simple needs, but you get enamored with the idea of serving larger businesses because they would pay more money for your services. They have more complex needs (or at least they think they do, and convince themselves they do, but that’s for another post), and they convince you to keep adding to your software. Before you know it, simple and fast becomes complicated and slow.
At this point your original customers are pissed because you’ve ruined the experience they were used to, and your big company customers don’t like it because they want you to add more features, while also keeping the product simple and fast. You wake up and realize you aren’t making anybody happy, so you decide to rebuild from the ground up, focusing on simplicity and speed.
We learned early on that we didn’t want to serve chain restaurants. We’ve talked about that in this post and this one and probably some others, so for ten years now we’ve always stayed focused on what independent restaurants want. You can guess what that is…
Simplicity and speed.