18 Jan 2021 - Written by Tony
Observations on the initial BrainTool launch
After recently upgrading BrainTool on the Chrome Store I posted the story of getting to 2000 users and thought I’d follow up here with some more specific observations.
- Most of my efforts to publicize BrainTool did not move the needle at all. But a single positive review in a well-respected publication like ZDNet gave me all the early adopters I could handle.
- Chrome Store user data is two days behind. I got exact numbers up to one thousand at which point it changed to “1000+” until it changed to “2000+”. It seems like numbers are updated once or twice a day with data that is two days old. Reviews seem to arrive online randomly relative to when they are added.
- After the initial bump, installations dropped off rapidly. I’m now around ten a day with higher numbers of uninstalls. I assume the latter are mostly members of the early cohort realizing the tool is not what they need. I’ve been surprised that the overall user numbers did not drop more.
- The BrainTool permissions and authorization are very scary for users. The installation asks to track browsing and then once launched the user needs to grant BrainTool access to write to their GDrive. This requires a hand-off to a Google Auth flow that can vary among users but it might ask for a Google login (“I have to put in my Google password?!”) and then ask for permission to read and write to their Drive. First, a lot of people missed the button asking for permission, and then many were scared away. This cost me a couple of one star reviews.
- BrainTool is a lot of things but right now for most users its mostly a better bookmark system. So its a head smacker as to why it never occurred to me that I should be able to import bookmarks! (You can now do so.)
- Generally feedback was very positive, although I had a few users very nicely tell me that my tool sucks! My overall conclusion is that there’s clearly a user-base for BrainTool beyond just me. Of whatever number of people were exposed to the ZDNet article more than two thousand were moved to install, the significant majority of those still have BT installed, and there are many vocal enthusiasts.
- On my opening screen I inform people that they are among the first users and solicit constructive criticism via email rather than a bad review. I think that helped and as a nice side effect it opened up a dialog for me with a few dozen early adopters.
- Enthusiastically following up every possible interaction with an end user has paid great dividends. I got a lot of thoughtful input, help prioritizing this first point release, and even a bunch of great folks willing to manually install an early build of 0.6 and give me bug reports.
See the Support page for my current backlog or join the conversation on the BrainTool discussion group.