Evernote’s applications are glitchy to the extreme; they often feel as if they’re held together by the engineering equivalent of duct tape. Browser extensions crash, text cursors leap haphazardly across the screen — my copy of Evernote’s image editor Skitch silently failed to sync for months because I hadn’t updated to the new version. Most issues are benign enough, but the apps are so laden with quirks that I’ve long held a deep-seated fear that perhaps some of my data has not been saved, that through a syncing error, an accidental overwrite — some of these ideas have been forgotten.
Today, in a blog post, Evernote CEO Phil Libin agreed that Kincaid was right, and promised to fix the software.
I got the wrong sort of birthday present yesterday: a sincerely-written post by Jason Kincaid lamenting a perceived decline in the quality of Evernote software over the past few months. I could quibble with the specifics, but reading Jason’s article was a painful and frustrating experience because, in the big picture, he’s right. We’re going to fix this.
Libin admits that the company perhaps strayed away from its core functionality while focusing on new features and expanding its user base. However, the CEO claims those days are over. Evernote reportedly kicked off a company-wide effort to improve quality a couple months ago, but the 'frustrating' roll-out of their iOS 7 version had an impact on their productivity. Going forward, over 90% of their resources will go towards improving their core experiences.
We’re starting to see the initial results of this effort in our app store ratings. For instance, when we started this effort in November, Evernote for iOS 7 was at a frustratingly low 2 stars. Today, it’s at 4.5. Our customer support volumes for iOS have been cut by more than half: from an average of 366 per day in November, to 148 now. We’ve made similar improvements to many of the other apps as well. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in this area, but just because an app has a good rating, doesn’t mean that our work is finished; there are countless improvements to stability and performance that we’ll continue to make
These are recent improvements, but the perception of stability is a lagging indicator of actual stability; you judge how solid or buggy an app feels based on your past few months of experience with it. So even though Evernote is a lot better already, and will get much better still, it’ll take longer for this feeling to really sink in. We understand that we have to maintain a high level of quality for the long term, if we want Evernote to be seen as a truly high-quality product.
For 2014, Evernote wants to reiterate its goal towards simple applications that focus on note editing, navigation, search, sync and collaboration.
Over the next few months, we’ll be releasing new versions of all the apps that incorporate our many lessons learned about what does and doesn’t work. All of our apps will be getting significant improvements and simplifications to the user experience starting in the next few weeks. The five most important areas of improvement that we’re targeting on all platforms are note editing, navigation, search, sync and collaboration.
Our new philosophy is to find every spot in our products where we’ve been forced to make a trade-off between doing what’s simple and doing what’s powerful, then rethink it so that the simplest approach is also the most powerful. We know we’ve found a good design for something when that conflict disappears. It feels like magic when that happens, and we’ll have several bits of magic in the coming months.
You can check out the entire blog post by the CEO Below.