Jason Fried says that the most innovative software in the next 10 years will come from companies like his, those who build web-based applications for very small businesses.
Though much of Jason’s mantra seems to be “do it our way”, I think that most of what he’s saying dovetails nicely with the notion I’ve been playing around with: tryability.
Jason says: “What they (independent freelancers) crave are low/no-learning curve, simple focused tools that let them get their work done quickly and then get out of their way.”
Note the low/no-learning curve part, I think that’s key. This is exactly the feature that people need when they can’t find an immediate answer to the question: “how is this application better than the one I’m currently using?”.
It’s not that people aren’t smart enough to figure this stuff out on their own. Given enough time, anybody can do anything, or close to it. It’s that we lack the window of attention to do all the things that we want to do. How long, do you think, would it take to evaluate all desktop email applications right now? One day, a week, a month? The point is that nobody is going to take the time to find out!
So, web apps get rid of one major hurdle that steals time: downloading, installing and upgrading. This is a main point that any web-based app provider makes, and it really makes a difference.
What makes even more of a difference, however, is having No Learning Curve. If I can start using an application immediately, and find it useful, then I’m a customer. The fact that I don’t have to install anything is great, but it doesn’t show the value of the application. Having No Learning Curve does.
Ideal Tryability = No Learning Curve