We are not off to a good start. Actually, we haven’t even started. And I’m cranky.
I’d been reading about Evernote for a bit, and how people use it to plan trips, manage their budgets ('though I believe YNAB is better for that), and organize their recipe collections and prepare their shopping lists, and capture their research materials for the book they’re going to write, and organize their internet browser bookmarks. The latter appeals to me, because I have many recipes bookmarked, and when I go looking for them it’s a bit of a search and hunt and peck and trying to remember the name of the website and the name of the post entry. But I usually alway find the one I’m looking for.
My memory is pretty good, really, and I usually find what I want fairly quickly. I have a very good memory for faces, 'though not the names attached to those faces, and in fact I usually remember the stories of the people that the face belongs to. Back when I was a massage therapist, I could see a client and remember all kinds of things about them: the name of their husband or wife; what their job was, who their employer was; what kind of dog they had; what their ongoing medical issues were; that they were going on a vacation to Cuba next month, and so on. Their names...usually, no. But all in all, I think I have a pretty good memory. I wouldn’t say I remember everything --like Evernote does-- but I remember a lot. Sometimes the memories are good; sometimes they aren’t pleasant.
I figured I could get the knitting patterns organized in Evernote, and I’d even started planning the cataloging system I’d use. The patterns need some kind of organization, because right now they’re all in a folder on the hard drive of the computer, and I find what I want by looking through the items in the folder. There are a couple of subfolders --there’s one for Shetland lace, and one for Evelyn Clark’s patterns, for example-- but I’m still relying on memory to sort through a lot of documents. Some kind of cataloging system would be useful.
So tonight I decided to get started with the software, and I installed it on my computer. Then I went to setup and register an account. The first thing I noticed is that the setup screen doesn't match what's shown in the online "Getting Started with Evernote" webpages, but I figured I could get through it. How hard could it be? (I enjoyed seeing the nifty slideshow of what Evernote could do for me, BTW, and how I will be able to remember everything.) So I put in my email address, username and password, and clicked "register".
Um. So it seems there is a problem with my desired username. I think that because I see a red exclamation mark beside the spot where I put the username. Maybe the name is already taken. Maybe I can’t have a space between my first and last name? Maybe I can’t use capital letters?
I wondered if maybe there would be some kind of onscreen tip that might give me a clue as to the problem. I didn't see one, and wondered if maybe the nifty slideshow was covering that up, so I clicked on the close window “x” up in the left corner, thinking that this would close the slideshow.
And it closed the entire application. No registration.
So I looked at the online help for obvious clues as to the problem, but nothing obvious, and I really didn’t want to spend a hour or so going from topic to topic in the hope of finding what I needed to change. Surely a big company like Evernote would make this process really simple? I mean, if getting the account registered is this problematic, how difficult will the program be to use? If the online “getting started” guide doesn’t match up with the user interface, what else won’t match up?
I found a page on the company website where one could get support or report a problem, and as I see it, there’s a problem when you can’t get started. Now the thing is, when you use Evernote, you can be a “Free User” --so you don’t pay for the service-- or you can be a “Premium User” and you pay the company some money to get...well, I’m not sure what you get for your money. I figure I’ll start as a Free User and see how it works for me, then if I really like the service and I find it really helpful in my life, maybe I’ll pay up when I find out what I get as a Premium User.
But, it looks like you have to be a Premium User to let the company know there is a problem. Like, that you can’t open an account. You have to have a valid username to submit a help support ticket.
You need to have an account, with a valid username, to tell them you can’t get an account.
Now, I have a post-graduate diploma in applied information technology. I have built databases, from determining user requirements, to writing Use Cases to defining objects and their relationships and converting those to ERDs and developing database tables, and writing Select queries, and designing user interfaces, and writing a user manual. I have written and self-published knitting patterns. I’ve taught a few knitting classes, with handouts. I know how hard it is to write instructions and get things right so they work.
I know that companies pay people to do everything they can to crash the system, so that it can be made better.
And I get it that companies can’t be handing out free help to nonpaying customers.
Even though I don’t always believe it, I think I am a reasonably intelligent person. I should be able to figure out how to set up an account with Evernote. Evernote should be able to figure out how to make this process as smooth as possible, and that includes some screen tips at the registration page to help people like me who should be able to set up an account to do so.
But if they don’t know this is a problem, how can they fix it? If they don’t create a system for non-premium users to let them know there is a problem, how can they fix that and win the trust of the non-premium user -- who might decide to become a paying Premium User?
I don’t remember everything. I’ll remember this experience. But what I’d prefer to remember is how great Evernote’s customer service is, and what a great system it is and how it made my life simpler. At this point, I don't see I'll have the chance for that.