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Interview with Evernote CEO 2020/10/18 (#PaperlessMovement)


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gz0mxGC4-0.

00:00 Introduction
02:01 Why Ian Small joined Evernote
04:56 Why did it take so long to get the new framework of Evernote right
13:47 What is "Electron Apps"
17:50 Missing Features: Harmonization of Evernote experience between different platforms
22:21 Missing Features: Decision-making process on what features to bring back first
26:32 Evernote Desktop: How to open two notes next to each other (Why tabs are missing)
28:12 Difference between Checklists and Checkboxes
32:27 How to Markdown in Evernote
33:08 Why are tags placed differently now
35:17 Idea on how to add tags or crosslinks easily to inline text
36:34 Evernote vs Notion vs RoamResearch: Reminding vs Thinking
41:03 How Evernote could become the best knowledge manager
42:33 Note-taking vs Knowledge Management vs Task Management
47:27 Future outlook next months and years to come
50:01 Evernote's New Search functionalities
52:42 Ian's message to my community
54:42 Ian commits to next interview in January 2021 discussing new features
55:15 My Summary and final thoughts

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thanks for sharing, this is certainly an interesting interview. too bad I seem to be using the product all "wrong" and am falling into at least four "5% categories" of features only a small fraction of people seem to be using (Ian is referring to that in the video). as always with these firefighting PR interviews what's almost more interesting than the content is what's *not* being talked about: the glaring performance issues of the new app, especially with higher note counts...

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Yes, thanks, @DTLow. I was also surprised about some of the things that are apparently considered "niche"--only 2% of users users tags?? At all, ever? Apparently, every single one of them is active in these forums.

A few other observations, from particular points in the interview (times and quotes are approximate):

  • 18:45: "We're trying to create a consistent and coherent Evernote experience that makes sense for the device that you are on." People who use EN on one kind of device should find it immediately familiar on a new device, in terms of where things are and how to do things, yet make sense for the form factor and capabilities of the device. The points is not for apps to be identical, but to make sense in each form factor. Snapping/scanning a doc should work easily on a phone, importing a PDF on a desktop.
    • My comment: So some things that make sense on a Windows computer, e.g. import folders and global shortcuts to create notes from screenshots, will return?
  • 23:40: "What got prioritized in the desktop apps ... were all the features that were used by the largest cross-section of individuals."... "We won't hold the apps up for 95-97% of the community for another 2, 3, 6 months while we work on the 2-3% that's left."
    • My comment: But is that necessarily the largest cross-section of uses as opposed to users? Import folders were in the 2-3% category? Does this take into account the % of people using EN on a Windows machine, and the intensity of their use?
  • 27:40: "We've done most of the learning we can do in beta, now we have to learn in market."
    • My comment: So, taking him at his word, they did take account of feedback during beta; some beta testers report here that what seemed like very significant feedback was not taken on board. Presumably part of learning in market is listening to responses in the forums?
  • 35:45: "Just like the new app is a platform, the new editor is a platform for us, and you will see things moving in the new editor faster than you have before." E.g., power features in the next 6-12 months, like in-line typing to access features.
  • 53:15: He wants people to understand that "this is absolutely just a start," as will be seen concretely in the next 3-6 months. And "thank you" for being generous and sticking with us as we went silent for such a long time. We want once again to have "a live and dynamic and evolving application."

So, while some important questions like performance were not addressed, they do seem serious about restoring features specific to specific platforms, and delivering new features in the coming 6 months or so.

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21 minutes ago, Dave-in-Decatur said:

So, while some important questions like performance were not addressed, they do seem serious about restoring features specific to specific platforms, and delivering new features in the coming 6 months or so.

I suspect for issues like performance and syncing they needed to take the apps to scale and load the service to see what they were dealing with.  There is only so much that testing with a small subset of users can show them.  I'm not excusing that they poorly communicated this, and IMO still released it too early, but there was likely a tradeoff between waiting for more features to be added vs getting something out there so they can work on optimizing the new service.

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Popping in with one more thought: the most important issue not raised in this interview may have been communication. Podcast interviews a couple of weeks after the fact are not satisfactory. Everything said here could have been summarized in the release notes or some obvious communication. Why wait till people are hopping up and down to tell them everything's going to be OK?

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51 minutes ago, Dave-in-Decatur said:

Popping in with one more thought: the most important issue not raised in this interview may have been communication. Podcast interviews a couple of weeks after the fact are not satisfactory. Everything said here could have been summarized in the release notes or some obvious communication. Why wait till people are hopping up and down to tell them everything's going to be OK?

Yep. The communication stinks, as does the beta program management.

Where are the staff posts updating us on known issues and upcoming releases? Why are the beta groups not being leveraged to test the recent patches before they go live? Why the lack of feedback and explanation to beta users who were surprised when "obvious" feedback was not incorporated?

It's one thing to have a different vision and decide not to incorporate feedback received from beta users, but it's quite another to not communicate that difference in vision or priority to some of your most passionate users.

A lot of bad feelings could have been avoided by simply responding to user posts in the forums and explaining why they were choosing a different direction or de-prioritizing some features.

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7 hours ago, Dave-in-Decatur said:

Popping in with one more thought: the most important issue not raised in this interview may have been communication. Podcast interviews a couple of weeks after the fact are not satisfactory. Everything said here could have been summarized in the release notes or some obvious communication. Why wait till people are hopping up and down to tell them everything's going to be OK?

well, let's also be clear: he did *not* say, everything is going to be ok. he did remain vague and unclear as about what will be coming back and what will not. in fact from current communications it seems some stuff will *not* come back (local notebooks anyone?). that's precisely their ***** up: not being clear on what to expect. the current release is clearly inadequate on so many levels but without clear communication all we can do is speculate, wait and suffer some more or run for the hills....

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17 hours ago, Dave-in-Decatur said:

So, while some important questions like performance were not addressed,

II don't believe that performance issues are inevitable on the Electron platform. A very popular lightweight  multiplatform IDE is Visual Studio Code which is completely written in javascript and electron. It is very performant and stable. Multiple themes are provided, including dark themes. Nobody would expect that this technology is used underneath!  https://code.visualstudio.com/

Another good example is the extremely popular Discord client, built on the Electron framework

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Side note: Just watched this interview with Ian Small. It looks like he fell into a trap filled with the dead bodies of companies past. The book “Crossing the Chasm” is all about the fatal mistake of polling 10 different kinds of users, making a list of their most valued features and then having a committee determine “if we do these X features we meet 80% of everybody’s needs” - missing the point that you’re failing to completely satisfy anyone’s needs.

The book goes on to talk about the different market segments and how they respond to incomplete or promised features: turns out that very few users are willing to accommodate an 80% solution (early adopters and visionaries that see an opportunity). The rest of the market (pragmatists and laggards), representing something like 80% of your users, just want to get their work done. A partial solution means some part of their work is blocked - so they’ll be pissed.

I’m old enough to know not say “no way they’ll pull it off” but the choices, motivations and the fact that Small seems to have a hard to time listening even to the host of the podcast - puts me deep into the skeptical category.

FYI: Apple notes is working out so far.

 

Yike

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17 hours ago, Chris Huston said:

Side note: Just watched this interview with Ian Small. It looks like he fell into a trap filled with the dead bodies of companies past. The book “Crossing the Chasm” is all about the fatal mistake of polling 10 different kinds of users, making a list of their most valued features and then having a committee determine “if we do these X features we meet 80% of everybody’s needs” - missing the point that you’re failing to completely satisfy anyone’s needs.

The book goes on to talk about the different market segments and how they respond to incomplete or promised features: turns out that very few users are willing to accommodate an 80% solution (early adopters and visionaries that see an opportunity). The rest of the market (pragmatists and laggards), representing something like 80% of your users, just want to get their work done. A partial solution means some part of their work is blocked - so they’ll be pissed.

I’m old enough to know not say “no way they’ll pull it off” but the choices, motivations and the fact that Small seems to have a hard to time listening even to the host of the podcast - puts me deep into the skeptical category.

FYI: Apple notes is working out so far.

 

Yike

Good insight.  The key is meeting 100% of your target customer’s need.  I don’t know who Evernote is for right now.  

You want to do research—- you cannot efficiently annotate any more, certainly not as well as other apps.  

You want to write a book— there aren’t decent export options from the editor—look elsewhere. 

You want a filing cabinet— the old Evernote did that better and faster than the new one.  You lost scanner support. OneNote, Apple Notes are free and now have strong OCR, and internal scanning functions

You want to take electronic notes— OneNote is more flexible, Apple Notes is faster and makes better use of pencil,  Notability and GoodNotes are vastly superior iPad options. Notability also add has superior voice recording. Notion has a variety of outline formats, database types etc.  

i don’t know who the target customer is and they don’t seem to either....  When Evernote started, it was the only player in the space, so customers had to adapt.  The notes space is getting ever more crowded, Evernote needs to be “the best” at something. 

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Yes, very insightful and all of this ... (be nice when you start a post) 

You did notice this thread is about PDF annotation ?

You have insight about PDF annotation to share ? Else I propose you open your own thread about general issues, or post in one of those existing for this purpose.

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