I recently read a blog post about why a company called Wesabe went under, and lost market share to Mint.com. The guy has some good insight and self-awareness, and he points out how Mint had a better UI and process flows. A quote from his post:
“Mint focused on making the user do almost no work at all, by automatically editing and categorizing their data, reducing the number of fields in their signup form, and giving them immediate gratification as soon as they possibly could; we completely sucked at all of that. Instead, I prioritized trying to build tools that would eventually help people change their financial behavior for the better, which I believed required people to more closely work with and understand their data. My goals may have been (okay, were) noble, but in the end we didn’t help the people I wanted to since the product failed. I was focused on trying to make the usability of editing data as easy and functional as it could be; Mint was focused on making it so you never had to do that at all. Their approach completely kicked our approach’s ass.”
It’s important to read that a few times and digest it. He’s talking about making the website easier to use. The more form fields you show someone, the less likely they are to want to take the time to fill that out. Or they may not want to share all of that information with you. So the message here is to ask as little as possible, and do not require fields that you really don’t need. Anything that keeps that form from being processed could be another person just giving up.
Remember how “instant gratification” people are. We may not need to slap them with a “reward” right away, but I think it can be rewarding to join a site and begin using it by expending the least amount of my time and effort. I’m generally very patient, but I like a website that respects my time and effort, and tries to make things really fast.
I am using Mint.com, but not as a tool to change my financial behaviour. I use it so that with one phone app click, I can see the balance in all my accounts, and recent transactions. That’s all I want from it. So if Wesabe was most focused on helping people change something they probably didn’t really want to look at or change, then that may disconnect from people as well. That’s why I prefer the Mint phone app. It doesn’t try to make me change anything. Just shows me some good, updated info, all in one place.