Since 2008, when the App Store first opened its doors, one app has consistently been on my home screen – Evernote. The combination of a great syncing service, a fabulous API, fantastic organization, and ubiquity across every platform you could imagine made them the note taking app. But as of late, things are not looking so good. They replaced their CEO, slashed jobs, and have generally seemed unfocused. But the biggest problem is that their core product has become a slow, bloated mess. And I am tired of it.
To give you an idea just how much an Evernote lover I am, at my old job I helped bring a whole group of people, some of them company directors, into the Evernote fold. I gave regular classes on the product and used it all the time as an example of an app that everyone had to try.
Early on the app was in a class of its own. But increasingly the note space is getting more crowded and the competition is getting better. Even the built in Apple Notes app has gone from a bit of an afterthought to a real contender in this space.
Increasingly I find I barely go into Evernote during the day. The mainstream problem is the incredibly poor performance I see these days on pretty much every platform. It’s slow to launch, slow to open a new note, and frequently locks up during use.
I can’t keep going with this. I am giving Evernote six more months before I seriously look at moving on to another platform. I have around 40,000 individual notes in Evernote so this will not be easy. I want to stay. But things need to change.
1. Focus on Performance
Let’s say Evernote is not running and I click or tap the icon. What I want is for it to immediately open and allow me to type. Yes, some of my notes are longer, but the majority of the time I just need to quickly jot something down. Right now the app opens and basically freezes while it syncs. Getting to a cursor where I can reasonably type sometimes takes over a minute. I have all but given up on quick notes in Evernote completely and usually just use TextEdit now, maybe transferring the text to Evernote later. This is not okay.
2. Stop Advertising Yourself
Work chat is not a compelling feature. Stop telling me about it. Stop reminding me the web clip can import PDFs. I have been a premium member for six years, I know.
3. Don’t be Word
Even Microsoft has figured out that note apps are not word processors. They need to be free form. The best feature of OneNote is the ability to throw the cursor anywhere and type. Evernote’s editor is too rigid, and causes content to not scale well going from the desktop to mobile versions.
If Evernote did just these three things it would at least stop the bleeding. Yes, it also needs innovation, but first they need to undo years of damages caused by an ever bloating and scattered product. Get back to basics and make it work as close to perfectly as possible, then figure out how to make better use of your considerable lead in this space.