Most companies don’t use a document manager, they use “nothing at all”, and when you think about it, that’s not so strange…
After all “nothing at all” is easy to use, very reliable, doesn’t need training and requires absolutely no change in working practice whatsoever.
Hardly surprising then that “nothing at all” is so popular.
But that’s not much help when you are trying to reap the benefits of using a document manager.
When “nothing at all” wins
We are quite often contacted by companies who are fully aware of the benefits a document manager can deliver and they really want to experience them. But they just can’t seem to make it happen. They have implemented one product or another, always put a lot of time and money into the project, only to discover 6 months later all their users have abandoned it and returned to using good old “nothing at all”.
Why does “nothing at all” win so often?
Well it usually boils down to one thing, users hate what they have been given and in our experience the most common reasons for this are as follows:
Browser based applications are great for lots of things, no doubt about it. But at creating interfaces to work with files they are really not that great.
To be fair this isn’t the fault of browser based applications. It is more to do with the fact that browsers live in a secure sandbox environment where interacting with a user’s desktop is rightly limited.
Yet people are used to working with apps like Finder. Nice easy views of familiar objects like folders and files. Instant changes when they click on things, dragging and dropping all over the place, creating new folders in a second or two and seeing all the contents of a folder nicely listed out in one place when they open it.
Many browser solutions get around the browser’s limitations by installing software on user’s machines. Tasks such as file syncing, check out and even opening can be performed outside of the browser. This is fine, except that it splits the application. Users find themselves spending half their time working on the file system and then having to refer back to the browser to find previous revisions and tag values.
Even today, 20 years or so after the advent of the browser, file based operations are still tricky to do and if its anything less than super easy, “nothing at all” wins.
Some document managers do such a lot of things and make sure there’s a little icon or button for each and every one of them. But this becomes quite bewildering for a user and then becomes a barrier to use, especially when the really essential buttons and icons get pushed onto some obscure third level sub menu. Having to resort to Google to find where a menu item resides could be seen by many to be something of a low point in the art of progessive interface design.
Making that walk too long
We like to think of working with files as being the short walk a user takes between using applications. Few (if any) take great joy in the walk, they just want it over as soon as possible. So if any document manager tangles with their feet and makes that walk any longer than is absolutely necessary they are going to hate it and sooner or later will be heading right back to using “nothing at all”.
Beating “nothing at all”
So now you see why any document management developer needs to be ever mindful of “nothing at all”.
Fail to take it into account at your peril.
Not surprisingly here at CHL we are always aware of its hot fiery breath on our heels and everything we do is about making DocMoto always better than using “nothing at all”.
Here are the key weapons we use:
A proper Mac interface
DocMoto does not use a browser interface. It has a “proper” Mac interface using all the same building blocks as Finder itself - In the techie world DocMoto’s interface is described as being a “native” Mac interface.
Native interfaces are much more expensive to create than browser based ones. But we think the benefits they deliver make it so worth it. A native interface can really support all those little things that make “nothing at all” so attractive. Things like drag and drop, nice familiar folders and files with nice clickable menus. All wrapped up in a responsive frame that not only looks like Finder but also shares some of the same shortcuts.
Clean and uncluttered
DocMoto does a lot. It actually does a lot more than some products that claim to do a lot! But it doesn’t parade all the clever features in front of you the minute you log in. Like all that is best in Mac software it’s there, but it’s subtle.
Keeping the walk short
These measures, along with a close attention to real customer needs (rather than simply following the latest techie fashion) and an endless drive to deliver each and every feature in the simplest to understand and least obtrusive manner possible, helps us to ensure that DocMoto users still have a nice short walk as they work with their files.
So does DocMoto beat “nothing at all?
Well yes, it does. All our users think so as well and “boy” does it get used!