When you design a product, you have to decide what its character is going to be. Is it going to be beautiful, easy to use, customizable, fast? These are four of the key characteristics you want with a web application, but as you push to the extreme with any one these characteristics, you are forced to make trade-offs.
FreshBooks is built for speed and ease of use. Some say our design is spartan, many comment that their first impression is it’s not as beautiful as some of the eye candy web apps available today, but all of them tell me that FreshBooks is the fastest web app they’ve ever used — and any hang-ups they have about the look evaporate by the time they create their third invoice or made their fourth time entry.
In a way, FreshBooks reminds me a little of the Google search portal: simple, purpose-driven, few bells and whistles, and built for speed. Their strategy is to help you get in and out faster many times rather than keep you on their site for long periods of time, like Yahoo!. They figure many quick, positive experiences will build the brand and keep you coming back, and that’s our philosophy too.
You’ll see this philosophy incorporated in the upcoming version 4.0 release of FreshBooks. We’re releasing estimates first, but version 4.0 will follow shortly thereafter.