How Do We Judge Our Tools?

Just to be a little bit contrary, I’m gonna share some thoughts on products and services and companies I actually like but that I have some skeptical (cynical?) questions about. Consider this a disclaimer: Just because I’m asking a question doesn’t mean I’m not a big fan of their work.

First, Blinksale. They’re getting lots of links and attention the past few days for making a simple invoicing service, apparently targetted at independent consultants or small shops. I’ve already weighed in on my feelings on billing one’s clients, so I’ve got strong opinions here, but I’m sure Blinksale meets anyone’s standard set of needs.

What I’m concerned about is a little bit of kool-aid drinking, not on the part of the team behind the app (In a refreshing change, I don’t know who built the service, I just know people are talking about it.) but rather on the part of those who are writing about it and linking to it.

A lot of the links to the service say thingslike “full of AJAXy goodness!” or “guess how small the dev team was?” or “it’s Ruby on Rails!”. People, this is a tool for helping your business make more money. The criteria for success include things like “It made my client pay faster.”, “It reminded me to collect from someone that hadn’t paid.” or “It reduced overhead in creating an invoice.”. I’m disheartened that so many people, especially those in the design community who are (ideally) focused on creating a good experience for users, don’t judge an application by the goals it’s supposed to accomplish.