I *really* want to love it…
Man, I want to love @mailchimp, but their editor is *killing me*. Has cost me hours of productivity.— Brendan Baker (@brendanbaker) July 6, 2012
First, I’m a MailChimp fan. They have a solid product with an engaging user experience. It’s quirky, fun and useful. But that doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. Far from it. I’ve almost thrown my computer multiple times in frustration over dealing with their editor, and it’s almost certainly hindered the frequency of my communication with Spotwag’s users.
So what makes someone stick with a product, despite frustrations?
Take another example. I had a similar frustration with Posterous. I really wanted to love the product—I was a big fan of the promise behind Spaces, and I’d followed Sachin’s progress for some time, so I believed in the team. But fuck was that product frustrating! I lost more draft blog posts than I’d care to remember, and couldn’t figure out some of the most basic product features to save my life. Finally, I quit. Now I’m posting to Spotwag almost daily, and I’ll never look back.
The difference comes down to personality—whether you can build a product, OR a product with personality. Both products have frustrated me, and arguably do not live up to their promise of simplicity, but I quit one while I’ve stayed true to the other. I’ve stuck with MailChimp because it’s endearing, and there’s a sense of whimsy every time I login. I can be frustrated by it, but I’m frustrated in much the same way I can be with my dog—he doesn’t know better, so I’m quick to forgive.
In contrast, Posterous was built to serve a purpose, and you can see that in its design. There is no similar personality in the product, so when my frustration built up over its faults, I had no equalizing emotional connection to the product. It was easy to quit.
Products live and die less by the function they serve, and more by the emotional bond they are able to create with their users. Users will make exceptions for products they have an emotional connection with… not forever, but for far longer than they arguably should.
Building personality into your product is really hard, but it will pay dividends. For more on the how to, read this post from Jason Shen on How to Give Your Product Personality.