Unless you've been on a deserted island, in which case you are not reading this blog, there is a lot more free and low-cost software available than ever before.  There are fewer barriers-to-entry for programmers striking out on their own. The 'app economy' driven mostly by SaaS business tools and mobile computing resulted in a crowded market and a lot of downward price pressure. Business models have shifted from one-time or per-seat license to tiered offerings and ad-supported options.  

The software market is so crowded with solutions that developers must get it right, and get it right fast. Going to market with a half-baked app (in industry parlance,  "minimum viable product") is a dangerous strategy. In fact, you're not likely to make it out of beta if you and your customers don't agree on what "minimum viable" is.

Case in point, I ran across a great browser plug-in today, one that would allow people to create meeting agendas inside a calendar invite.  If you're like me, and you get invited to a lot of meetings that could have been handled over IM or email, this kind of tool is deceptively sexy.  

Come on, you know you dream of productive meetings. 

I immediately added this little gem to my browser extensions. Seconds later, I got an email from the founder soliciting feedback.  (Smart, they're watching what I'm doing on the back end so they can "nurture" me while they finish building this thing and find a way to monetize.)  I like this idea, if only it had x,y,z integration to the a,b,c stuff I use at work.

And here's where it all went south; they asked for feedback.  

Wish granted, a flurry of great ideas flooded in from excited beta testers all dreaming of a better work experience.

The bad part is when the dev got the feedback they made a lot of excuses about priorities and use-cases.  In other words, they didn't really want feedback, they wanted to hear everything is fantastic and everyone is ready to buy.  Meanwhile, all of their beta users are doing market research, QA, and building a roadmap for them for free.   

The very least you can do as a developer is to listen, really listen... and then follow through.

I get it, you can't do everything, you can't boil the ocean.  As much as you want to be all things to all people, you don't have the time/energy/talent/bandwidth/cash/whatever to do it.

Don't even try to be all things to all people. Pick one thing, and do it better than everyone else.  

Your one thing has to (in this order):

  • Have a well-conceived use-case
  • Work perfectly  
  • Look beautiful
  • Be feature-complete 

And you have to listen, really listen.  If you're going to be defensive, don't ask for feedback.

P.S. This is how I would solve the feature request problem for this vendor, write an IFTTT and Workflow plug-in stat. Let people build an ecosystem while you figure out what you'll be when you grow up.  And hurry up, we don't have all day. There's a new thing coming out tomorrow.