There is a trend towards software simplification out there on the Internet. The key elements are simple and useful. I remember in the early days of the internet the applications were all created from scratch. People had to concentrate on the killer app and could only include core technology. Those with a good UI caught on. Quicken.com was a great financial site, for instance (it’s morphed into a personal financial site now, not too bad.) Over time these applications fell victim to “feature creep” and the programs got really eleaborate and complex.
Competition was kept out of the market because development costs were high. Now, thanks to cool development tools like Ruby on Rails and AJAX, development is faster and cheaper. Simple versions of complex applications can be produced to capture a segment of the market that only needs core functionality.
37signals.com was no doubt a pioneer in the space with Basecamp, Writeboard, Tada Lists and Highrise. I never really took to their applications because they always missed some essentials, but I keep coming back to them to see if I can make them work.
Many of these sites are great for entrepreneurs because they are cheap and easy to use. I’m a big fan of Salesforce.com, but it’s not cheap and it is getting complicated to configure. Feature creep killed a lot of the good online apps for me. Quickbooks.com, for example. Can’t use it, don’t have time. Too much stuff.
Here are a few others that I’ve noticed in my travels along the information superhighway (remember that silly term?):
- Expensify.com has a cool site designed to simplify expense reports.
- Outright.com is a good alternative to Quickbooks.com
- YCharts.com is a new site that does fundamental charting. Very cool. I used to run a financial site (PCQuote.com), YCharts.com is way better.
- ToDoist.com I use this for to-do lists all the time
There are many others, but I can’t remember them right now…more later.