Keeping it simple

Monday, January 07, 2013

There were several objectives in mind for the Curio 8 release but the key mantra was simplicity.

Coincidentally, during this period of development, I read Isaacson's fantastic Steve Jobs biography. Steve repeatedly pushed the goal of delivering a simple product and service. Where everything just works. Where the focus is on the user experience. This deeply resonated with my new mantra.

I stepped back and looked, not just at the product, but at everything Zengobi and focussed on simplicity.

Yes, Curio 8's new user interface is vastly simplified compared to its predecessor. Every screen was scrapped and re-written to create a better experience. Likewise, the internal file format and code architecture were re-constructed to be more robust and to more easily facilitate future extensions and new functionality.

But then other areas outside of the core Curio product were also tackled.

The user manual was re-written to make it more useful as you stepped through the user interface.

The Getting Started project bundled with Curio was re-created to better offer a guided tour of the major features.

The trial system was scrapped. Instead of the confusing default trial and extended trial dual process we now have a simple, longer default trial. Also no more obtrusive dialogs getting in your way during the trial, and no more extended trial "spam" going to your inbox.

The website was re-designed and re-built. Many pages were combined or eliminated. A calmer, less cluttered, and more informative look was delivered.

Instead of three editions of Curio, which required a confusing feature matrix for potential customers to decode, we brought out a single super-fantastic product. This simplifies the purchasing process and greatly reduces support inquiries.

With a single product the online store was also greatly simplified. Yes, we could have maintained the confusing crossgrade/upgrade matrix, say a range of $49.99 to $79.99 depending on what you currently own, but that's against the simplicity mantra. Based on past experience we know that would have created confusion as customers made incorrect orders leading to support emails, partial and full refund requests, and frustrated re-orders or cancellations.

With new pricing, primarily in honor of our 10th anniversary, we also no longer have separate retail and academic stores. Instead we simply offer a single store with a lower price for everyone. I'm no longer deluged with emails from financially strapped non-profits, charities, religious institutions, the recently-unemployed, and self-financed startups requesting the academic price. Everyone gets the same low price.

With a single product with simplified new and upgrade pricing the store database, store code, purchasing scripts, and purchasing database were all greatly simplified with far fewer erroneous orders.

In the end, you have a better experience at every stage and I have more time to produce the features and products you want.