Bob: The mistake of bloat v real value increases

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Posts 128
Andrew116 | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Feb 23 2018 7:31 PM

Hi Bob, in another thread you said: 

"I don't want to become bloatware. Unfortunately that's a tendency as things mature, for two reasons: 1) As a general tool matures, it goes into more niches both to respond to users...

2) Somewhere along the way most users have their basic needs met, but still want fresh updates, free tech support, etc. ... Companies add bloat to increase (for some people) the value perception, ... [etc]"

I think this is severely mistaken. I know you're the CEO of a software company while I'm just a little old consumer. But maybe the CEO sometimes forgets what its like to be a consumer. 

(And we know that even CEO's make mistakes - You've admitted that Logos Now was a mistake, I'm sure you're tempted to think it was a mistake to promise people that the software would always be free, setting up a situation where ongoing costs to you are not met by ongoing payments by the consumers.)

It is a little bit scary for me to hear you say that bloat is somewhat inevitable and that you need to do it to increase value perception, because it seems so far from what people actually value in their software.

Do you know what I look for in software? It's this: it works and does the things I need it to do. That is it. When I look at the one that has 500 features and the one that has 5 features, I choose the one that does what I need it to do. 

  • Evernote is FAR from the most feature-rich cloud-based note service. In many ways it has a poverty of features. But it does a superb job of the few things I need it to do.
  • Gmail is far from the most feature rich email provider. But for sending and receiving email, it has exactly the right features to let me do what I want to do. 
  • I downgraded from one task manager app to another with less features, because the extra features actually got in the way of what I was trying to do
  • I have no idea if Microsoft Office has more or less features than other office apps. It just never entered my mind. The only thing that mattered is that it works really well, and didn't make me tear my hair out like other ones did. It was polished, so I used it. It did what I needed it to do. 

In fact if you look at the market leader in every software category, I put it to you that you will find in EVERY category an app that is not, on paper, the one with the most 'value perception' (most features). And yet people flock to it because its just the one that does the job best. 

Good businesses do the things that people want, and they do them well. And if they do a really good job of that, people will buy it. Because people will talk about it. I have convinced dozens of people to buy Logos over Accompetitor because I am convinced it does what I need and they need best. And do you know how many times the number of features has even been a factor in that discussion? 0. Zero times. The empty tomb interactive is not even relevant. They have 3 or 4 things they need to do as Bible College students and future pastors, and Logos does those things better than the competition. That is the end of the story. 

Initially I didn't buy Logos because it was slower than Accompetitor. But then the reading experience was better on Logos, and the Guides were helpful. Then Logos got faster and I made the switch to Logos. Do you know how many features factored in that decision? About 5. I'm not saying features are irrelevant. I'm saying the right features are decisive and the number of features is irrelevant. 

In other words I am saying that you are 100% wrong when you say this:

"long-time customers want more books, want more attention on software development that while important, attracts fewer new customers (new customers notice new features; experienced customers want more performance and polishing), and less other stuff"

What's wrong with that statement? It misunderstands new customers. New customers don't notice new features at all, because the customer is new... they don't really know what's new and what's old! They just care that it does the job they are looking for. And if you look into it, probably what you will find is that the number 1 thing that attracts new customers is satisfied long-time customers. If you polish the software so that it does its core tasks better than anyone else, people will buy it. 

Actually, it's scary that you think 'increased value perception' is a worthy goal. (How much does this explain the outcry on Logos forums every time that inflated 'value perception' is not reached?) 

Value perception that is not backed up by true value (aka bloat) is a recipe for dissatisfaction down the track.

Value perception that is accurate to true value will spread by word of mouth. 

Bloat is not true value. A classic example is the empty tomb interactive compared with the features many people have been asking for on Uservoice for years. 1000 votes for better interaction with Evernote, or 630 votes for better offline lookups on mobile apps. I know several people who have chosen to spend their $X000 with Accompetitor because of the better offline lookups on mobile apps. But wait, they miss out on the empty tomb interactive!?! To think that would influence their decision is laughable. But Faithlife spent development dollars on it because it increases 'value perception'.

Yes I know that these things don't look as glossy on marketing copy ('value perception'), but they are what the users are saying will make their software more useful ('true value'), and by so doing they will be more likely to tell others to use the product. 

Give people software that works really well - faster, easier, more efficient. Some of your features truly are brilliant ('true value') and I commend you on those innovations. But any time you are doing things simply for the sake of having a new thing to offer, that useless bloat will not help you sell products and won't make our lives any better. 

Posts 1022
Keith Pang | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 8:26 PM

It’s okay to say Accordance 

Shalom, in Christ, Keith. Check out my music www.soundcloud.com/kpang808

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 8:49 PM

Andrew116:
Give people software that works really well - faster, easier, more efficient. Some of your features truly are brilliant ('true value') and I commend you on those innovations. But any time you are doing things simply for the sake of having a new thing to offer, that useless bloat will not help you sell products and won't make our lives any better. 

A serious question - given the broad range of users, how would you suggest Logos identify (a) the features users need but do not have, (b) the features present but with flaws that make them unusable to users, (c) the features that are present but users don't know how to use, and (d) useless bloat?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 4870
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 8:56 PM

Well said Andrew.

Posts 128
Andrew116 | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 9:05 PM

I would say that they have a pretty good resource here in the forum and on uservoice. That’s probably a good place to start with your category (a) and (b)  

Remember that (as you probably know better than anyone) the forum attracts both seasoned veterans and bewhildered newbies. That’s probably a good place to find which features are there but people don’t know how to use them. 

I would define useless bloat as anything that,

1. first of all, being prioritised above categories (a) and (b) unless the company is very sure (being honest with itself) that it’s doing it to genuinely enhance user experience in a bigger way than (a) or (b).  

2. Is being done mainly so it can be marketted. 

I once asked a successful business man for financial advice. He said one thing. “Be honest with yourself.“ I was disappointesd, it didn’t seem like financial advice at all. But over the years I have come to see the wisdom in it. can I afford this? Be honest with yourself. Am I doing this for the right reasons? Be honest with yourself. I suspect that a similar principle applies in companies. Is this just feature for the sake of marketing? Be honest with yourself. 

Posts 30
m wilson | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 23 2018 11:26 PM

Well said

Posts 416
Liam Maguire | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 12:20 AM

Well said. My most used app on iOS is a markdown note taker called Draftrs4. It isn't pretty to look at, and it sure isn't Ulysses, and yet, I use it every day. Why? It is fast, efficient, and does what it claims to do well. 

The list goes on.

Evernote > Onenote

todoist > OmniFocus

Thunderbird > Outlook

Atom > Sublime

I'm sure the community can think of others

Check out my blog 'For Fathers'

Posts 10032
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 6:45 AM

LMAM:

Well said. My most used app on iOS is a markdown note taker called Draftrs4. It isn't pretty to look at, and it sure isn't Ulysses, and yet, I use it every day. Why? It is fast, efficient, and does what it claims to do well. 

The list goes on.

Evernote > Onenote

todoist > OmniFocus

Thunderbird > Outlook

Atom > Sublime

I'm sure the community can think of others

All of these would be bloat, for me. Logos is a secondary app, my primary already handles this functionality. Just illustrating.

But MJ's point is good. A lot of features Logos introduces plug into separate markets, and thus appear useless, outside those markets. From what I can surmise, there's 3 .... academic, pastor, and church members.  And at this point, they're still fragmented (compete with each other). 

I don't think the issue is bloat, as much as ease of use (the spreadsheet example) and snappy (vs competitors).


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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 8:12 AM

MJ. Smith:
A serious question - given the broad range of users, how would you suggest Logos identify (a) the features users need but do not have, (b) the features present but with flaws that make them unusable to users, (c) the features that are present but users don't know how to use, and (d) useless bloat?

It seems to me if FL is having trouble identifying these things and is just guessing, they better make some changes in a hurry. 

Perhaps FL has lost touch with its user base and relies on statistics rather than interaction with its users. 

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 610
Dave Thawley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 8:27 AM

Mark Smith:
Perhaps FL has lost touch with its user base and relies on statistics rather than interaction with its users. 

I would agree with the latter but I am unsure of the former. I am not sure upon what statistics these decisions could be based. They don't appear to be based on their actual users. 

Posts 10032
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 8:48 AM

Mark Smith:

Perhaps FL has lost touch with its user base and relies on statistics rather than interaction with its users. 

Ironically, I opened my hugely favorite weather app this AM, only to see adverts. Huh?? I had a subscription .... gone. 

I evaluated my specific enjoyment vs adverts. And deleted the app.  But I suspect WU has done their homework .... loose some (or lose, as the case may be), gain revenue.


Posts 145
Ross Strader | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 9:02 AM

Andrew, this is an excellent analysis. 

I've said a few places in this forum... I kind of wish Bob would sell the Bible Software part of FL to someone interested in Bible Software... then, they would have all the money they need to explore all of these other inroads into other industries... 

It appears there is a confusion of exactly what market industry FL is trying to position themselves. 

It's kind of like the Swiss army knife that has all of these 'tools' - none of them are awesome, but they are all in one -- the problem, it's too big to carry in your pocket... so it sits on top of your dresser, or in your toolbox and there is never actually a 'need' to use it. 

MacBook Pro 15' Retina  •  2.7 GHz Intel Core i7  •  16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3  •  Version 10.10

Posts 148
Rob Lambert | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 5:50 PM

Mark Smith:

MJ. Smith:
A serious question - given the broad range of users, how would you suggest Logos identify (a) the features users need but do not have, (b) the features present but with flaws that make them unusable to users, (c) the features that are present but users don't know how to use, and (d) useless bloat?

It seems to me if FL is having trouble identifying these things and is just guessing, they better make some changes in a hurry. 

Perhaps FL has lost touch with its user base and relies on statistics rather than interaction with its users. 

its really simple... PAY ten of you who are at different levels of experience to fly back to Faithlife and simply ask them.  Then Drill them.... then show them what they don't know and see if it solves their problems.  Mostly, just listen ... put a week aside and have no more than 5 people on behalf of the company listen.... then decide.

Also, realize that the market is a bunch of relatively simple minded Bible oriented Christians who look to Faithlife almost as a ministry and (based on these hundreds of posts) most certainly do) and, as a direct result of this both: 1) expect candor and transparency; and, 2) are willing to pay more and at the same time forgive... to a point.  Christians, once crossed, don't forget and don't forgive very easily.  They are a stubborn bunch at best.

Mostly, don't appear to cheat them in a simple manner (if it doesn't fit you must acquit) or just as simple (why charge me more than double to rent books I already bought with money I would have loved to spend on my wife and justify this with a bunch of garbage I don't want and won't even spend time on)....then belittling them by communicating this with the finesse of an ax murderer without the involvement of the person who runs the company and benefits from the overreaching.  This insults regular simple people... 

By the way, this is my last pile on.  Bob will run the company as he sees fit and I am honestly praying that he has wisdom and that you guys and gals lighten up now that over 250 key customers have torn him to bits.  I believe you are right (also about focusing the business on what Bob knows and not trying to be all things to all people); but, holy cow, if he didn't already hear it he is deaf... I suspect he is not and has already heard all of us.

So, I am back to my suggestion that we stop complaining (we can all leave) and start praying.   I can't wait to enjoy Logos 11 and with our prayers Faithlife will get there.

Posts 1003
EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 6:15 PM

Rob Lambert:

...  Christians, once crossed, don't forget and don't forgive very easily.  ...

That statement really struck me.  I wish I could say that you're wrong.  I don't think it's always true, but I suspect it is true of us (me) way more often than it should be.

Posts 3
Lee Ahlstrom | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 6:37 PM

Andrew,

Well said.

I'm done with 'keeping up with the Joneses' in terms of Logos.  

I was an initial subscriber in Bible Study magazine because I thought it added some value.  But I realized that not only was it a lot of fluff, Logos would never make the useful content available within Logos, and I don't need to save hardcopies of sections of another magazine.  So after several years, I stopped my autorenew.

I used to be a customer of PC Study Bible.  It wasn't all that sophisticated, but it did what I needed it to do--Bible study.  In parallel, I added a few Libronix options and when PCSB disappeared for awhile, I switched to Logos.  

It's generally a good product, but even years ago, it was bloatware, with an abundance of low-value, little used resources in each package.  And the memory and CPU time required to run the program has been terrible for a long time.

I upgraded into Logos 5, then 6, then the basic 7.  I subscribed to Logos Now thinking it was a good 'deal' even when recognizing that any company that switches to an SAS model (software as a service) is not working in the best interests of customers.  When LN came along, the alarm klaxon began sounding, but I even rationalized this with a view that I'd get the most up to date features.

Now comes whatever this new program is.  And the value is negative to me.  

Faithlife TV?  No interest.  Poor quality.  I'll never use it.  I'd certainly never pay for it.  It's like having 7 channels of CSPAN for 'free.'

Mobile Ed?  Interesting idea, but 1 course that I rent for a few months?  Extortion.

Free books?  Generally material I wouldn't buy anyway.

All the while, my CPU cranks through the cycles and my fans work overtime to cool.

Logos has lost it's core focus and core competency.  Like many companies, it's expanded into a lot of areas where it has no competitive advantage. Worse, it's offering products that it's customers don't need and aren't asking for.

So I'm done trying to keep up with the latest from Logos.  I won't renew into this Faithlife Connect.  I'll run what have.  Buy a book here and there that adds value.  Keep restarting after it crashes.  And keep an eye out for other options.

Posts 78
Phil Tuften | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 7:04 PM

[

Lee Ahlstrom:

Andrew,

Well said.

I'm done with 'keeping up with the Joneses' in terms of Logos.  

I was an initial subscriber in Bible Study magazine because I thought it added some value.  But I realized that not only was it a lot of fluff, Logos would never make the useful content available within Logos, and I don't need to save hardcopies of sections of another magazine.  So after several years, I stopped my autorenew.

I used to be a customer of PC Study Bible.  It wasn't all that sophisticated, but it did what I needed it to do--Bible study.  In parallel, I added a few Libronix options and when PCSB disappeared for awhile, I switched to Logos.  

It's generally a good product, but even years ago, it was bloatware, with an abundance of low-value, little used resources in each package.  And the memory and CPU time required to run the program has been terrible for a long time.

I upgraded into Logos 5, then 6, then the basic 7.  I subscribed to Logos Now thinking it was a good 'deal' even when recognizing that any company that switches to an SAS model (software as a service) is not working in the best interests of customers.  When LN came along, the alarm klaxon began sounding, but I even rationalized this with a view that I'd get the most up to date features.

Now comes whatever this new program is.  And the value is negative to me.  

Faithlife TV?  No interest.  Poor quality.  I'll never use it.  I'd certainly never pay for it.  It's like having 7 channels of CSPAN for 'free.'

Mobile Ed?  Interesting idea, but 1 course that I rent for a few months?  Extortion.

Free books?  Generally material I wouldn't buy anyway.

All the while, my CPU cranks through the cycles and my fans work overtime to cool.

Logos has lost it's core focus and core competency.  Like many companies, it's expanded into a lot of areas where it has no competitive advantage. Worse, it's offering products that it's customers don't need and aren't asking for.

So I'm done trying to keep up with the latest from Logos.  I won't renew into this Faithlife Connect.  I'll run what have.  Buy a book here and there that adds value.  Keep restarting after it crashes.  And keep an eye out for other options.

Yes

Posts 78
Phil Tuften | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 7:04 PM

[

Lee Ahlstrom:

Andrew,

Well said.

I'm done with 'keeping up with the Joneses' in terms of Logos.  

I was an initial subscriber in Bible Study magazine because I thought it added some value.  But I realized that not only was it a lot of fluff, Logos would never make the useful content available within Logos, and I don't need to save hardcopies of sections of another magazine.  So after several years, I stopped my autorenew.

I used to be a customer of PC Study Bible.  It wasn't all that sophisticated, but it did what I needed it to do--Bible study.  In parallel, I added a few Libronix options and when PCSB disappeared for awhile, I switched to Logos.  

It's generally a good product, but even years ago, it was bloatware, with an abundance of low-value, little used resources in each package.  And the memory and CPU time required to run the program has been terrible for a long time.

I upgraded into Logos 5, then 6, then the basic 7.  I subscribed to Logos Now thinking it was a good 'deal' even when recognizing that any company that switches to an SAS model (software as a service) is not working in the best interests of customers.  When LN came along, the alarm klaxon began sounding, but I even rationalized this with a view that I'd get the most up to date features.

Now comes whatever this new program is.  And the value is negative to me.  

Faithlife TV?  No interest.  Poor quality.  I'll never use it.  I'd certainly never pay for it.  It's like having 7 channels of CSPAN for 'free.'

Mobile Ed?  Interesting idea, but 1 course that I rent for a few months?  Extortion.

Free books?  Generally material I wouldn't buy anyway.

All the while, my CPU cranks through the cycles and my fans work overtime to cool.

Logos has lost it's core focus and core competency.  Like many companies, it's expanded into a lot of areas where it has no competitive advantage. Worse, it's offering products that it's customers don't need and aren't asking for.

So I'm done trying to keep up with the latest from Logos.  I won't renew into this Faithlife Connect.  I'll run what have.  Buy a book here and there that adds value.  Keep restarting after it crashes.  And keep an eye out for other options.

Yes

Posts 1928
Donovan R. Palmer | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 7:19 PM

Andrew116:
I know several people who have chosen to spend their $X000 with Accompetitor because of the better offline lookups on mobile apps. But wait, they miss out on the empty tomb interactive!?! To think that would influence their decision is laughable. But Faithlife spent development dollars on it because it increases 'value perceptio

I have the competitor. Sometimes I wished it had a more elegant reading plan system like Logos. I also think when it comes to just having a huge reference library of books to search Logos is king. The guides in Logos are second to none as well.

But if it is pure focused Bible study, the competitor is superior in many ways. Speed and no crashes, ever. It just works. Just a recent example, the competitor released Exegetical Summaries with tagging far superior to the Logos version. We have asked on this forum for many years to enhance the tagging for this series in Logos. Same with other resources and maps. . 

The competitor is not perfect but the point is I would have preferred for the Logos ecosystem to be more narrow in favor of refinements, stability and speed on its core business. What about making version 8 the version of focusing on refinements, rather than new features?

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 24 2018 8:25 PM

Donovan R. Palmer:
What about making version 8 the version of focusing on refinements, rather than new features?

Don't forget that through Logos Now we know big pieces of Logos 8 - revision of the notes process, speeding up the search process, speeding up the load process i.e. we know that Faithlife is putting resources into the underlying structure to keep the software viable in the long term. We have also seen several important new features - intersects search operator, sermon editor, morph query document, sermon outlines guide section, Faithlife music guide section, Faithlife Assistant natural language search, and many smaller enhancements.

Donovan R. Palmer:
the competitor released Exegetical Summaries with tagging far superior to the Logos version.

What specific tagging do you find helpful in the competitor? That detailed feedback is what Faithlife needs.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 943
Everett Headley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 25 2018 9:15 AM

MJ. Smith:

Donovan R. Palmer:
the competitor released Exegetical Summaries with tagging far superior to the Logos version.

What specific tagging do you find helpful in the competitor? That detailed feedback is what Faithlife needs.

That detailed feedback is what Logos should already know.   Yet, it seems that they are behind on most fronts and falling back.  Release of new books, procurement of journals, pricing, communication to customer.  =

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