2 min read

Simplify, and add UX

Simplify, and add UX
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash. All of your app's features should be able to fit on an index card ... which you can put on a clothesline to dry after you drop it in the toilet I guess.

Whenever I wade into a new idea and start digging around I'm absolutely astonished by how many startups there are poking around a given idea space.

But they're all generally ... big ideas. As the barriers to create a new web business get ever smaller, why don't the startups?

Where are all the people trying to create a software small business (outside of consulting and indie app businesses)?

The Problem

How many companies started doing a thing and then in the name of growth started doing another thing and then their product got so convoluted and confusing and bloated you stopped (or wanted to stop) using it? Dropbox comes to mind. Spotify keeps cramming new stuff in there. Both of these products were fantastic from the outset, and I would argue the more extra functionality that they add, the less value they provide.

Now, these are big consumer-facing examples but you can find an endless list of software of all sorts with the same issue. They add feature after feature after feature trying to cover every use-case so they can expand their potential user base.

But what if we did the opposite?

Note: it's possible I don't see as many of these types of businesses because they are by nature small and thus less likely to be stumbled upon. I have no evidence either way. But this site is for slapping vague ideas on a wall, not for 'evidence'.

The Opportunity

So, to find your next business idea:

  1. Choose your favorite service or app or whatever
  2. Isolate the small subset of core functionality that most people use
  3. Create a product that only does that. And then refine and polish the design and UX to a mirror shine. Then maybe add some whimsy for good measure.

For #2, look at a product's pricing page. What you want to build will probably be some small combination of features from all of their pricing tiers, while leaving a lot out.

Example: a user needs some basic-ass website hosting and some analytics and wants to use a few of their own branding colors. The hosting service, however, makes you upgrade to see analytics. And then upgrade again to customize the theme. And by then you're also getting 5 user seats and 2TB of data transfer that the user doesn't need.

Another example: Trello. I'm a big Trello user and it's a great tool but as it gets more powerful, it also gets more complicated. Even logging in has gotten so confusing that I will sometimes decide it's not worth it. So I open the Notes app instead. I just wanna plan out a few meals, okay?

Trello, like many productivity services, is increasingly made for larger teams and companies and products. Nothing wrong with that! It's just moving further from my particular use-case. As a software business ascends into complexity, it opens up an opportunity down below for something simple.

You'd have to figure out what that is for your industry. Talk to the users of the current leader, figure out which features they use and which they don't, and then eat a carrot. They're good for you.