Our goal was never to create a good product we could sell; we wanted to create a great product that sells itself. A product that people can try for free and then decide for themselves whether they want to buy or not.
So how do you create a tool that people will actually want to use? When we started, Eran Zinman (co-founder and CTO) and I spoke with hundreds of managers and teams to hear what they had to say.
We found one fundamental truth: people felt like they were working really hard for their tools, rather than the other way around. They were slaves to a master they didn’t like, and in return, the master gave them some reports and organization. But people had to work hard to extract this information, and it wasn’t everything they needed—far from it.
People are generally accustomed to having a strict divide between their personal tools and their work tools. They expect their personal phones, apps, and devices to be intuitive and beautiful, but are resigned to working with cumbersome, complicated, and clunky tools in the office. It’s no wonder a lot of people don’t like going to work.
I think that in general, it’s a false divide to separate your work-life from your life-life. If you’re going to achieve anything in your job, you should love your work tools just as much as you love your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy (or whatever.)
So we set out to design a tool that is beautiful, friendly, and geared towards what people need to be successful. To that end, we’ve focused on three main things:
1. A good product is intuitive
Think about the first time you touched an iPhone. You knew what to do without reading a user manual. And if you’ve ever used an iPhone or iPad around a child, you’ll see that even tiny kids immediately get it. It’s that intuitive and human-friendly.
Your work tool should be the same — so intuitive and pleasant that you can use it without any training.
But intuitive doesn’t mean simplistic. A good tool is simple for your basic needs, and then scales with you as things become more complex.
For example, many of our customers want to track their weekly tasks and to clearly see where things stand. That’s a pretty simple need, and it’s a piece of cake to do that with monday.com.
But let’s say that your processes eventually get more complex, and you want to see who on your team is working on what over a period of months to gauge whether you’ll meet your critical deadline. In that same exact board in monday.com, you can easily add more columns and filters to adapt it to your growing needs.
This is a fundamental strength we’ve built into monday.com that I’ve seen lacking in almost every other management tool. Either the tools are simple, but they limit you to only doing simple things forever, or they’re complex, and burden you all the way to managing complexity. It’s essential to have a tool that’s flexible and can scale, while maintaining a core of simplicity.
2. A good product is non-imposing
A non-imposing product doesn’t force you to adapt the way you think and work to suit the technology. It works for you; not the other way around.
To achieve a non-imposing product, we have one simple rule: we will never-ever-ever ask you to add metadata that monday.com needs for its internal operations. Gantt charts are a classic example of imposing software—they require you to add dependencies, times, and due dates to extract a resulting report. You then become a slave to updating and managing those dependencies, just to keep up with the same report. (Read more about our thoughts on Gantt Charts and why we created the timeline.)
Our aim is to take everything you’re already doing at work—sending emails, sitting in meetings, managing spreadsheets—and make it even better and easier if you do it in monday.com.
If you want to tell someone on your team something, mentioning them in monday.com is the best way to do it. If you want to assign someone to a task, monday.com is the fastest and most natural way for it. If you want to plan ahead, monday.com is the easiest and most rewarding place for it.
The only information monday.com needs is what you already have in your head: your priorities, goals, and deadlines. You don’t have to exert any energy or effort trying to understand what monday.com needs from you in order for you to gain immediate value.
3. A good product is fast
When a product is slow, nothing else matters. Speed is its own value and impacts the overall design and experience of your product.
What happens when a product is slow? It takes too long to navigate to different places in the system, so people start requesting you to duplicate functionality. For example, they might request the same button on many different screens so they don’t have to leave the page they’re on. This makes the tool complex and bloated.
When a product is fast, each function can exist in one place only. Yes, people need to click more to get to where they want, but they don’t mind, because it’s fast. With fewer buttons and functionalities, your product remains streamlined and simple.
Plus, when a product is fast, people start using it for many other things than what it was initially intended to do. (Classic example: have you ever used Google to spell-check a word you’re not sure about? You do that because it’s so fast.)
At monday.com, we define fast by what we call boom performance. It’s only fast if it happens in the time it takes you to say “boom.” (Or if you’re into technicalities, that’s under 100 milliseconds.)
At a conference some time back, Eran gave a brilliant lecture on how to achieve boom speed. If you’d like, go ahead and watch—it blew my mind 🙂
It takes a lot of dedication to make a product that’s so great, people will try it out and pay for it without sales people convincing them to buy it.
But we’re committed to this path because we believe it’s how products should be: human-friendly, empowering, and fun to use.
The tools and teams that rise to this challenge in the coming years are going to dominate the market.