In addition to "Say no by default," one of their other points of advice has been: "Let your users outgrow you."
37signals has found that there's more people to sell to at the bottom, and when customers need/want more, they're free to find it elsewhere.
Today Basecamp is 7 years old. Signups are stronger than ever.
Whenever we survey customers asking them what they love most about Basecamp, the top response by a mile is: it's simple, easy, and their co-workers and clients actually use it. It's not multiple choice either - the words "simple" "easy" "intuitive" show up more than any others in the open ended textarea.
We've made Basecamp a lot better over the years. Some people still ask for more. Others say it's too complicated and they wish it was even simpler.
Software development is a challenge. Everyone wants something different. So you do what you can to thread the needle and make as many of the right customers as happy as possible. Not everyone is the right customer.
It sucks to lose a customer because we did something wrong, but it's OK to lose a customer if we just aren't the right fit anymore. People move on from all sorts of things. Clothes, houses, cars, jobs, relationships... Why not software? As circumstances change, one product may not fit someone forever. That's OK as long as it fits plenty of other people at the same time.
Some customers stick with you forever. Others come and go. Many who go come back after trying other tools that promise them more but that no one actually used. In the end, the tool that actually gets used is the one that's the right fit for someone. It's really really hard to get people to actually use things.
We've found that the simplest stuff is what actually gets used. It's why email is still the world's most popular project management tool.
Still, it's a painful transition to outgrow a tool you've become dependent on and need additional functionality to do your job.
I think you need to walk the line on this one. That's what we do with Apollo... We managed to include a CRM in there, and still keep the UI very simple.
How else would you have it provided to you? That's pretty well the most versatile form of the data you could get, I'd think.
No matter what the niche, or the market, there is always room for the simplest solution. Always.
It seems to me that the people who are attracted to the most basic set of features will also have the least amount of pain shifting to a new product while having the lowest price elasticity.
Most software engineers are prosumers, so you either target them or the enterprise.
Now, "onion" products are better - they let the user grow from a simple base. But a simple product is a lot easier to make, which frees up resources for marketing or other products.
If Apple did this - raised their prices while also taking a 'less is more' approach wrt features, many of their most ardent supporters would eventually defect.
re: basecamp - I knew several orgs in 2008-2009 that had paid versions of it. none of them liked it, but used it because it was something, and they were paying for it so it must be OK. I suspect that over time, BC will bleed enough paying users to the point where they'll reinvigorate the team and start adding more value. Then again, they may just raise the price and ride out their name brand making boatload of money for many more years to come.
If I make the world's simplest todo list, I have not made an Apple product. I have made a toy. If I make a phone into a tablet computer that is immediately understandable to a child, I have made an Apple product.
Can't we have a bit of cooling down on this Apple fan thing? The first and last Apple computer I booted myself did crash hard and there was no way to recover, go into BIOS, "hack" it if you will. Ok it was 10 years ago but still, when I see an Iphone owner I ask: show me your files, your music and pic files. Don't you /own/ these?
How can you hack something if you don't have access to its files? When I mount my Ipod, I always wonder why tf they did rename all my music to F01.mp3, F02.mp3, etc. And because of this renaming there is a silly upper limit on the number of tracks I can hold on this said wonderful gadget (I use it because it has a 80G sized belly).
We should be hackers here (and defend the positive meaning of this word given by pg, particularly now). I understand why a CEO would love to use a nice looking toy as their phone, even in a tech startup. But I feel any true hacker should/would feel imprisoned with any device that you cannot mount and scp to, right?
Why do you think we see the rise of different "clouds"? Because they hide another layer of details. And yes, they move files you love so much further away from us. For the best, in most cases.
The times when hackers and users were the same people a over. Hackers today must understand, that the users of their products are no longer other hackers (with exceptions, of course) so different rules applies. Normal user will not care about implementation details. They may scare him. What the user want is to pick your product up and just use it.
Failing to understand that you fail as a hacker. On the other hand, succeeding to hide implementation from the users is a great hack.
Well, have you never been in need of opening a .doc with a simple text editor like vim and fix some issues? Really?
> The times when hackers and users were the same people a over.
That not my point. I reacted to the false claim that prosumer (ie power users / hackers / hn readers) prefer Apple.
As a matter of fact, most geekest geeks I meet in my job are all having Nexuses. Maybe because I live in China, but it was about the same in France and in Germany.
When really what I wanted to do was just listen to music while I'm walking around, and have a limited amount of worrying when it comes to getting music onto the device. (IE, it Just Works territory)
My behaviour is now circumscribed in other ways - my attention is split between things I really want to work on and this malaise of I ought to be crafting better tools to work with my music player.
"You can just set up rsync once!" is kind of a non-argument response to this - an Apple gadget, in this case, I set up nonce. Plug it in, it initializes, and syncs everything. Now I can listen to music where-ever I happen to be, and I don't have those circumscriptions to my attention.
If my Apple device annoys me sufficiently that I really want to have that level of control, there's a myriad of devices out there that automount as USB devices, that I could set up all sorts of nifty on-insert rules and script to high-heaven.
This look like an orwellian paradox to me, like "thinking less makes you free". Having low-level access don't mean you /need/ to use this power, it means that you /can/. Not having this power means you gave the keys to someone else. I'd rather keep most of the keys on my side, personaly.
The first time I saw an Ipod, it was at a party, in a friend of mine's hands, looked good, he had nice music, then I asked him to give me a few mp3, and it was "impossible right now". My god...
--> Never bought an Apple product myself (the Ipod I use is my wife's).