Photo By Nida Rehman from Stock.Xchng
By Nan Palmero, from Sales by 5
Have you noticed that there are pieces of technology that should be wildly popular, but they become overly complex so the soccer moms never seem to quite transition over to them? Interestingly, this is not a new concept. Aesop did this centuries ago with his simple fables. Simplicity is able to transcend languages, cultures and physical boundaries. What happens is that we get excited about our work and try to include as many features as possible. Doing so oftentimes complicates our attempts and the message gets lost along the way. Let’s take a look at some examples of this. Remember, I’m not saying that these examples are failures; I’m merely suggesting that you consider how these changes could affect the adoption rates.
WordPress vs Blogger
WordPress is an amazing platform for blogging and websites. Its flexibility is incredible and Google loves it for SEO. If I were to set my mom up on it, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing with her requesting technical support on how to post, add a photo or change the header. As a matter of fact, my wife, Ashley, ended up leaving WordPress for Blogger. As a photographer, she wanted to be able to change her header without knowing HTML, CSS or any other programming language. Needless to say, she couldn’t figure it out. Am I saying that Blogger is the platform everyone should use? Absolutely not! What Blogger did right, though, is make it easy enough to make changes that she could figure it out on her own. In WordPress, she had to upload updates via FTP. Haven’t we evolved enough online to not have to FTP anymore? This created a massive barrier to entry for her and it led to a defection. My suggestion? Make WordPress crazy simple so people that are non-techies are able to join, making the platform more accessible to the small business owner or personal user that doesn’t have a techie on staff.
Firefox vs Internet Explorer
Firefox is quickly growing in popularity as a browser. Depending upon the statistics that you see, Firefox and Internet Explorer (considering all the versions) are running about even. Firefox, similar to WordPress, allows for amazing flexibility. Similarly, though, the non-tech crowd oftentimes hesitates changing from their convenient and well-known, Internet Explorer, to the oftentimes superior Firefox. Typically, you can accredit this to transitioning to the unknown and not experiencing enough pain with Internet Explorer to warrant a change. Additionally, when you change to Firefox, not everything is the same. Some examples include Firefox not having an easy to find “Print Preview” button, not having a default “run” function when you want to download a file, or having the ability for the next tab to open to your selected home page by default. These are all easily remedied by plug-ins or settings within the browser, but why is that required? Why not have a simple mode that pre-selects these expected features when you install Firefox to make the transition less scary, safer and manage expectations.
iRiver vs iPod
On paper, iRiver should be ruling the world right now. Many of their devices use standard USB ports to connect, allow for common batteries, have a better sound processor for louder and cleaner sound as well as oftentimes beautiful design and quality. On the other side, you see the iPod. The iPod has had issues with non-removal batteries, proprietary plug and inferior sound quality. As you well know, it wasn’t enough for iRiver to take over. iRiver has failed to recognize that the overall experience in using their devices is also important. At this point in time, it’s easy to argue that the iPod has name recognition and bigger marketing budgets that allow for it to win. This wasn’t necessarily the case. What has made the iPod successful is that its entire ecosystem is cohesive. Apple has made it convenient to locate music via iTunes, where the attorneys did the back end work to get the deals done, the engineers worked with the folks doing the user interface to make the device beautiful and functional and the overall feel is excellent. Are there better media players with more features and higher quality? You bet. It’s just not enough.
Take a look at your offerings. Are you making them easy enough for your users and buyers to be able to use them right away? Is your offering easy enough that your fans will be able to recommend your products and services to their less tech-savvy friends with ease, knowing that they won’t have to do a bunch of handholding to get everything rolling? Can you get all your members of the design, sales, marketing and engineering teams together so they can make sure all the parts in the offering work together seamlessly? These are the keys to winning.