How do you make decisions when it comes to new technology? Do you know how to make the best decision when it comes to the app to use? When you’re looking for a to do list app, how do you find them – do you read reviews and let someone else choose for you, or do you try every app that you come across until you find the best one?
Some of the best professionals in the field can choose the app that works best for you without even using it. This guide will give you a framework to do that very same thing, without having to read a single review or having to use the app for more than one hour.
Of course, nothing will trump the experience that these professionals have – whether it’s predicting the landscape of technologies in the future, knowing which companies will make it and which ones won’t, or the best way to actually integrate your workflows into these software. But the choice? That can be in your hands.
What’s the secret that these professionals have? A simple perspective and answers to some key questions; questions that are focused in some very particular areas that, when working synergistically, minimize the learning curve, increase accountability, and allow you business to grow.
- does the solutions provide syncing between the cloud and your computer? syncing is key – it allows you to use your data offline.
- does the application track changes so you can see different versions? previous versions of documents or items within solutions are critical to answering “when did this get changed, who changed it, and what was it before?” Ever delete something you didn’t mean to delete?
- is this a cloud solution? cloud solutions keep your data off of your computer so you can access them from anywhere.
- can data be entered into separate fields, or all in one? you want a solution that allows separate fields
- how many other solutions does this solution integrate with? bonus points if it integrates with an app you already use or plan to use. Integration allows you to be able to connect the two solutions to “share” data. Often a well integrated app provides opportunity to reduce overhead in the future. But be warned – configuring integrations aren’t for the faint of heart. Integrating applications can have unintended consequences, like forgetting you have the integration and wondering where all of that crazy information is coming from!
- is the solution “Open-Source”? Open Source means that the solution is developed by a community, rather than a large corporation. This means that, generally, it is more reliable, and that if there is a problem is will be patched and fixed quickly. Additionally, support is MUCH more available for these solutions than commercial ones. Plus, they’re cheaper.
- does the solutions allow real-time collaboration? Examples of such solutions are Google Docs and MindMeister for mindmapping. Both of these solutions will show changes being made to the document or mindmap as they are being made by other members of your team. This feature is gold for collaborative teams and will skyrocket performance.
- integrated team chat/community? It’s pretty dumb to write an e-mail about a document that two people in a team are working in, and it slows things down. What if you could simply send a message within a document and get your response in real-time, just like you would in Facebook Messenger. Having it integrated means your can focus on the task at have, rather than getting caught up in the Facebook Vortex (technical term, we promise.)
- what is your first impression when you open the app? this is critical as you will be working in this application – too much clutter, and overwhelm gets easy and focus gets lost. Too few items, and finding what you’re looking for may be tough.
- how many clicks does it take to get to the center? Generally, you start a program with a very particular task to complete in mind. If you find yourself needing to click more than 3 times to complete the most common objective, maybe the solution isn’t for you.
- hotkeys? if you haven’t read our recent post about hot keys, it’s critical that you do. Without proper hotkey support, your productivity with this solution will be greatly inhibited. Take a moment to Google search for “hotkeys for ” followed by whatever the solution name is. Are there hotkeys for what you believe are the most common tasks? Are there hotkeys you could learn to be more effective?
- does the solution seem intuitive? does it seem like what you’re looking for is right at your fingertips, or do you have to go hunting? are there confusing words or other blocks to your success with the solution?
- is there an obvious primary function? what is the purpose of the solutions? Word processing? Task tracking? Project management? Heather Hart once said “It’s better to do one thing well than 10 things poorly.”
- how’s the help? “If you can’t teach something simply, you don’t know it well enough.” – Albert Einstein. This one speaks for itself.
These 5 items make up what we call the “Simple Perspective of Software” and are the basis behind many of the tutorials you may have seen on our website or our YouTube channel. We choose the apps we teach based upon their ability to meet these requirements and stand out among the clamour and claims of the crowd. By answering these questions and looking at new softwares from this perspective, you now have the ability to do the same.