I read Ian's introductory blog this morning. He said he wanted to hear from customers. I couldn't find an easy way to pass along my feedback. Ian, I hope you'll read this.
I think I'm one of your earliest users. My first note is dated 1/3/09. I was using a Mac at that time but switched to Windows, back to Mac, and back to Windows. For a while I used a Windows touchscreen laptop. I have Evernote installed on my iPhone and iPad. I've tried OneNote. Bleh...
As I think about the apps that make the use of a computer worthwhile, there are just a few: a web browser, Microsoft Office, an email client, photo editing software, an autocorrect utility, a screen grab utility – and Evernote. Rumors of Evernote's demise greatly concerned me. I am hooked on using Evernote as sort of a Swiss Army knife to use to write down my thoughts, keep notes on various things, capture snippets of information, etc. I use the Web Clipper all the time. It is very handy to capture a note on one device and look it up on another device. It's been hugely important to be able to load Evernote on a new computer and have almost 10 years of notes, thoughts, and information magically appear on it.
But I've had my share of frustrations too. Only recently the dictionary function on Windows seemed to get fixed. Really? The UI is all over the place. Honestly, I never seem to remember how to use the iOS apps, both of which are oddly different. Touch on my Dell laptop didn't work because Evernote stopped supporting touch (maybe you do now; I don't have a touchscreen laptop now). I have lived through the Evernote Moleskine days and all of that distraction. In 10 years I've never really felt like Evernote truly knew what its center of gravity was. I hope that will change.
Here are some thoughts...
Make Evernote nice to look at and easier to use: It's been a while, but I recall that the Mac UI was really nice. The Windows UI is utilitarian. Hire some designers and UI experts and spruce it up. Create some consistency between the iPhone and iPad apps and allow users like me to easily move between them.
But don't dumb Evernote down: If I want a dumb note app, I can use Google Keep. OneNote used to be overly complicated and now they have made it overly dumb. Easy to use should mean easy to use, not dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator.
You probably should support Markdown: It's not my cup of tea, but why not offer it to customers who love it? I think there are a lot of folks out there would would prefer to write notes in Markdown.
This is my cup of tea: I would like the choice of a more sophisticated editor. I don't want a Word clone, but some more formatting tools would be nice. One thing I would love is the ability to set my own paragraph spacing. I would love to have Styles. A table function that really works would be nice. How about offering three editor UIs: Document creation, standard (i.e., the one that is used today), and Markdown.
Leverage your cloud: I've always wondered why Evernote didn't go in the direction of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. Evernote was the "100 year company" – I would have trusted my photos (30,000 of them) to Evernote. Now I pay Microsoft. That might be too far from your center of gravity but it makes more sense to me than Moleskines.
Fire your brand consultants: Recently I read Chris O'Neill's blog article titled "CEO Notebook: Say Hello to a Refreshed Evernote". It read like a long-form Dilbert comic. "Engage with what matters!" "Extend impact!" "Explore What's Possible!" Evernote is a software product. It does stuff. It will not solve world hunger or achieve peace in the Middle East. For my photo editing I recently switched from Adobe Lightroom to Capture One because its features are better. I use Snagit instead of free screen grab utilities because its features are better. I could go through the list of the software I've selected and I suspect in every case I make a choice because of a combination of features, ease of use, visual attractiveness, and price. Microsoft office is the only thing I use because my company requires it. Stick to making the product better. Fire your brand consultants and hire some UI experts.
Software quality has to be rock solid: The dictionary thing really got to me. How could a company in business as long as Evernote have such a flaky dictionary? There are other software issues I've encountered over the years. This is table stakes.
In conclusion: Please don't let Evernote die. It is a pioneering product that is still very relevant. It has competitors but I think Evernote is still the best. You need to keep it there. You need to keep a clear eye on what you do well and avoid things that are peripheral. I think Adobe's strategy is a good one to watch. They are creating a cloud-centric model with a solid focus on the workflow of creative people and leveraging the power of tablets. Although I personally prefer a competing product, I think from a strategy point of view they are making some excellent moves. What Microsoft is to office apps, Adobe will be to creative apps. Maybe Evernote won't ever be a Microsoft or Adobe, but I think you should aspire to being identified as the King of the Hill in a core area of application usage.