Espousing the productivity benefits of web tools and services is something we at Web Worker Daily do often because we experience it firsthand every day. We hope our numerous product reviews and articles about Choosing Your Tools Wisely help you navigate the often overwhelming landscape of the web and lead you to greater productivity.
Choosing a product for team use presents an entirely different set of challenges than one for a single user. Implementing a web tool or service that isn’t compatible with the working style of the people expected to use it is shortsighted and counterproductive. If your chosen product or service doesn’t work like you do to serve the needs of your whole team, perhaps it is time to consider if you have made the right choice and just whose needs is it serving?
Earlier this week, 37signals announced implementation of one of their most oft requested features to their stalwart Basecamp project management service. Users now have the ability to reply to messages or comment notifications directly by email rather than requiring a visit and log in to your project site. One could almost hear the collective sigh of relief in the user forums and across the blogosphere as folks praised this feature.
I noticed amidst the buzz a significant number of people who said that their clients and colleagues weren’t using the service and participating in the collaborative process prior to this point because this particular feature was missing.
I’m a big fan of Basecamp (which we cover frequently) and appreciate them responding to their users and adding such useful functionality to their product. It really will allow a lot of us to use the service more productively.
But this brings to light some questions that should be asked about any service or tool that you are looking to implement in a multi-user environment. Are we forcing our clients and teammates to communicate in a fashion that is incompatible with their work style? Are we limiting the participation of the very folks we are looking to engage? Have we made the right choice?
How would you answer these questions? Have you done a review of the effectiveness of your chosen products or services?