What is Missing?
I have been thinking lately about the influx of Web applications and how folks like 37signals have transitioned their entire business from consulting and design to the support and evolution of their product offering. Either they are on to something and there truly is a sustainable market for Web applications or they are doing ok with sales and investing in the future. Designers are smart folks, why shouldn’t they design and engineer focused, home-brewed solutions?
I believe in the case of 37signals’ Basecamp that they developed a very useful tool for a focused set of tasks and did so with the perfect blend of visual design sophistication, back-end implementation (cheifly their tasteful application of Ajax) and User Interface design.
The word on the street is that Adaptive Path will soon lauch an Ajax and Ruby powered Web application, Measure Map that will most likely be a subscription based Web site statistics interface (the “most likely” bit referring of course to it being a subscription service). Talented designer/coder Shaun Inman is set to introduce a similar project, Mint which has created some what of a stir.
Are these folks on to something? Yes, there are tens of thousands of blogs alone registered on a daily basis making for a rather sizeable market for their concept but one does wonder what the potential return on their investment will be. Surely one of them will “win” in the blog world leading to fame and fortune and mailbox money doesn’t sound all too bad but again I ask what is the market for paid Web applications today?
So the common denominators for a successful Web application would seem to be (not surprisingly):
- Focused in scope (a clear task or purpose).
- Tasteful use of Ajax for cool factor.
- Minimal, attracive visual interface.
- Intelligently designed user interface.
- Relatively inexpensive.
Surely there are characteristics I failed to include in the list above (which I hope you will help me to flesh out) but I believe the important factors are there. What other tasks do you frequently encounter that you feel:
- Are done with a tool though not done well.
- Do not currently have a Web based tool that would be enhanced by one.
There is a fine line between developing a Web based tool for sake of building a tool for the Web and doing so because the task at hand would truly be enhanced or done more efficiently on the Internet. I am curious to see what you smart folks think could be enhanced or is lacking in the world of Web applications. Who knows, maybe you could be on to the next big thing.