37signals has made a splash by keeping things simple

A recent post on the 37signals blog helped explain how their project management product was born: Turn the tables on that petty tyrant MS Project. Everyone I’ve talked to who uses Project has the same complaint. It gets the job done but it’s painfully complicated.

The Chicago-based 37signals decided to do something about this complexity and created the award-winning Basecamp. It’s a smart strategy. Users occasionally need to push the limits of their software, but far more often, they just want to get their work done.

I was reminded of this as I had dinner tonight with a friend who has recently taken the plunge and bought an iMac. After working with nothing but PCs, his response was almost comical: “What have I been missing all these years?!?” On the Apple site they list reasons for “Why you’ll love a Mac.” The first: It just works.

We all pine for the day when something actually gets simpler instead of more complex. Those who deliver simplicity and still allow us to get work done win our hearts and our pocketbooks.

Is it any wonder that the biggest threat to email marketing — if you want to call this new, complementary tactic a threat — is something whose middle name is simple? Really Simple Syndication, known more commonly as RSS, is catching on because you don’t have to fill out a form, you don’t have to open an email program, and you don’t have to go beyond reading headlines, should you prefer not to. Like the iMac, RSS just works.

Read the 37signals blog entry and see if you agree: The Davids of the world are continuing to win their battles against Goliaths, especially if they stick to what’s simple. While you’re at it, take a look at some of the blog’s other entries. This is one of the best “corporate” blogs I’ve come across, if you can call it corporate. These folks really know how to use mildly subversive content to drive home points that also happen to advance their brand. They’re just themselves, warts and all.

Simply refreshing.

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