ixd theory :: investing in task management

I have written before about Producteev, a task management software that really helps me stay organized. I use it every day to keep track of all the assignments I need to complete, which are plentiful! I hope they stay in the marketplace, because I have grown pretty attached to the service.

a brand update

When I first started using the service, Producteev had a predominantly yellow color palette and a cute little beaver as its icon. To be frank, I wasn’t really thrilled by the branding, but the functionality and the freemium version won me over. I was very pleased to see the new visual design for the mobile application and website that was launched with the last upgrade. The mainly blue color palette is friendly and professional, and the styling is more in line with other popular applications in the market. The branding gives the application a more professional edge, which Producteev will need to continue to complete in the task management market.

hyper functional

I loved the functionality right away. I’ve used a few productivity apps, and this one had what I was looking for. The interface has nice contextual hints built in to remind me how to set up projects and add tasks. There is enough complexity to set up multiple projects to contain my tasks, but the interface doesn’t overwhelm me with information. I can show and hide due dates and tasks, or dive in for more details as needed. This functionality nicely matches my behavior, as sometimes I am busy and don’t have the capacity for information overload. I can quickly see at a glance what is due today, tomorrow and later in the week, and colored category tags helps me to visualize the types and amount of work I need to do. I wish the tags went across projects, it seems redundant to set them up separately for each, but this is a small annoyance I can easily work around. I’m also really pleased with the cross-device applications Producteev has produced, it’s very convenient to have the desktop and the mobile application sync in the cloud. It’s essential to the concept of the product that I can check on my tasks anytime and anywhere. I haven’t experienced any snafus yet, and the service seems pretty reliable.

free forever?

I am curious, though, how Producteev is doing in the marketplace. I hope they continue to grow, because I am becoming very reliant on their service, and it would be inconvenient if they shut down. Doing a quick web search, they have had great reviews for a few years now, even in a crowded market. As an investor, I would be keen to read how Producteev differentiates themselves from their competitors, and evidently they do offer unique benefits. I wonder about the pricing model, which is a freemium download for individuals, and a monthly charge for multiple users. I can see how a connected task management solution would be a great tool for a project manager, but the subscription pricing does seem to get fairly steep when you start calculating for larger offices. A clever IT group could cobble together a less expensive solution using Basecamp and Google calendar functionality, but then you would lose some of the great user experience of the Producteev product. So the concept is solid, in my eyes, but the pricing model may be difficult to maintain. I would not be surprised to see the freemium offering change in the future, as it did with Flickr and Basecamp. But looking at recent features, I think the Producteev team has the potential and the execution ability to be flexible in the marketplace. They have innovative, useful ideas, and they aren’t afraid to partner with other popular services. I think this resilience would be assuring to an investor, so let’s hope they keep going.