ForumsQuestionsImprove Toodledo iOS Workflow and UI

Improve Toodledo iOS Workflow and UI
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Posted: Oct 27, 2012
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I know this has been requested a bunch of time, but for years Toodledo has been thanking us for that suggestion and haven't done much. TD staff, please read completely, even though it's long.

I've been a pro subscriber for 1 or 2+ years. After reading Getting Things Done, I've been really excited to use Toodledo. But now my to do list is nearly out of control and so I barely open it up anymore. Why? Mostly my fault for not keeping my tasks in check, but Toodledo's cumbersome workflow and uninviting UI poses a mental block for me to spend time in the app.

I'm dying to move my system over to Omnifocus or Things. But 1) they're so expensive and 2) most of my data (tasks and notes) are in Toodledo. They just need to give a temporary discount and I just need to spend a few hours migrating my data over and we would have parted ways. My point: I've been a loyal user of Toodledo because it was inexpensive and its price posed a low entry barrier + it has a powerful to do system, but now I'm itching to escape. A user who is constantly eyeing for the next opportunity is not a mentality of a satisfied user.

Look, I'm an engineer, so I get Toodledo.

Toodledo is in a unique position of being both the client and the server: you have the website and apps that interfaces with the users, as well as having the backend database for other apps to sync to. You guys are programmers and engineers, and this is where your expertise lies. But imagine if you had a little bit of the design side: you would OWN the to-do market by combining these 2 expertise.

I read blogs and listen to podcasts about productivity and tech products. Content like John Gruber's Daring Fireball, 5by5 podcasts, Lifehacker, etc. Most of the people with the biggest mouths and biggest audiences tout products like Omnifocus or the like. Those products are thoughtfully designed and beautifully implemented. They can sell their stuff for $20 (iOS) - $80 (Mac OS) and still gain customers who BRAG about paying that kind of money.

For example, just take a look at these Homescreens:

When these influential people put a to do app on their homescreen, more often than not, it's Omnifocus. It was after viewing that blog article that got me to write this post.

Toodledo is powerful, but it's not cool or pretty. It's like the utilitarian Dell product versus the chic Apple product. Toodledo is good enough for people to use, but it doesn't evoke any kind of pride in using it.

But there's no reason Toodledo has to be like that.

So here's my suggestion:

Make a new app.

Invest in hiring a good UI designer to work on the design and a human-software interaction expert to contribute to good workflow ideas in the new app. The new app will serve as the premium version for partially-satisfied users who want more and for the others who envy Omnifocus but can't afford it.

Keep developing the current app, and rename it to Toodledo Classic or something. That way, it will serve as the inexpensive and versatile client for most of the current satisfied users who prefer upfront versatility and power and who doesn't care about design.

There's no reason you guys shouldn't pursue this strategy. You've already built expertise for the hard part: the backend of the Toodledo system, now invest a little in the superficial part that makes it easy for people to use the app, and instill a sense of pride in it with good & intuitive design.

Copy Omnifocus's workflow and design...doesn't matter. Many task app makers do. They just don't succeed because they haven't done it well enough or they don't have talented programmers to make it work well (for example, Taska: beautiful app with good workflow, but too many bugs; they've since abandoned the app). But Toodledo have the programming skills and a great product, you just need to invest in a good design.

This message was edited Oct 27, 2012.

Posted: Oct 27, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
I don't know much about Omnifocus (being Mac-only is an automatic deal killer for me) but it sounds like your mind is made up. Bite the bullet and buy it. It's either worth $100 or it isn't. If it is as good as you think it is, you'll thank yourself everyday. By design, Toodledo will never be Omnifocus, I'm sure of that.

Posted: Oct 29, 2012
Score: 0 Reference

Pictures of homescreens? And this proves what? I didn't see Omnifocus in them, and if I had, so what? I already know that some people use Omnifocus, some use Things, and some use TD. This is not exactly front page news. If you don't like TD, go get Omnifocus and be proud of how much you spent for it. :)

Toodledo Admin
Posted: Oct 29, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Yes, we are engineers, and UI design is not our strength. We are acutely aware of this, and this is an area that we hope to improve upon in the future.


Posted: Oct 29, 2012
Score: 2 Reference
Sometimes I feel really bad for Jake. To constantly face such criticism, however well intended, must be disheartening. Toodledo is what it is - a flexible tool for tracking tasks - and one that improves slowly over time. It is not perfect, but nor are most other solutions out there. There are a lot of great things about the iOS app - I use and depend on this to the exclusion of a lot more pretty and clever alternatives because it works.

Posted: Oct 30, 2012
Score: 1 Reference
The reason I stick with Toodledo, is that the back-end is just so well thought out and flexible. But along with flexibility comes complexity that tends to overwhelm some people. I struggled with that myself.

The saving grace, for my work flow, was the saved searches. This allowed me to shape the view of my tasks to the way that fit my needs, based on all the relevant metadata associated with each task.

The challenge that a lot of developers face, is providing everything every user needs, while still making a product easy to understand. I think Toodledo is moving in that direction.
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