Sad About Evernote / Use Your Product

I have been using Evernote for a long time; since 2011 according to the little pop-up on my account page. It has been a long time since I have written about it or written in general. Today, however, I was moved to do both, and top it off with a Product Management thought to boot.

Note – If you don’t give a hoot about Evernote and you are here for the Product Management tidbit, click here!

Though I don’t write about it, I use Evernote almost every day. Now, the “almost” comment is a change for me. I still use Evernote, almost religiously, for capture of documents, receipts, and things I want to get back to later. I still have that Evernote Elephant in me about remembering everything. I used to use it to execute GTD and keep my To Do lists efficiently moving forward. (All of that needs to be another post.) However, over the past 18 months, I have watched the product deteriorate, and that is sad.

Evernote, somewhat to the frustration of many, went on an effort four years ago (I think; time blurs for me) to make the foundation strong and unify the product offering so what you saw on your desktop vs. mobile was a seamless transition. Though I longed for new features and a move back to the Elephant culture, I appreciated this move as a Product Person — though it felt like it was going on forever. Then Evernote quietly announced their sale to Bending Spoons.

I got excited about the possibility of a new owner – maybe they will finally push Evernote forward again and go back to delighting and exciting long time paying users like me. All of 2023 went by with zero changes (and bug fixes). Now, in 2024, Bending Spoons is dismantling the work Evernote did to strengthen and unify the product. The UI between platform no longer matches; when I go into my iPhone it is still the same (short of Ux which I will talk about shortly), but then I go to desktop and it’s like whhhaaattt? Colors are different. No greeting. Note experience is a little different. Not encouraging. And Evernote is not “steadfast” anymore.

On my iPhone, the app for the past couple of months / releases resets all the time. When you enter it, it “reloads” and repaints three times. I can be in a note taking meeting notes and, POOF, the app reloads – and I am out of the note. My quick and trusty capture product is not longer. #Sad

Admission – as I went searching for the sale announcement link, I stumbled across posts from over the past year about “exciting changes” they are making.  And, as I read them, I say, “sure, okay, yeah, I kind of see that.”  So, I’ll admit – apparently, they are trying to do something with Evernote.  But again I’ll use the word “sad” that I do not flat out see those improvements directly in front of me in the product.

Product Management Thinking

I am focusing on Evernote here, but I am frequently in other products where I wonder, “Does the Product Manager even USE their own product??!!” In Evernote, I would be shocked if there is a Product Manager using the iOS version, sees the bug, and does not tell the team to roll back the release. How could they use the two experiences (Mobile and Desktop) and say “ahh, yes, my job is well done here.” I totally believe that a Product Manager does not know what the customer needs even if they themselves are a customer. You, the Product Manager, must be out there talking to customers, living with the customer in the moment and seeing their individual needs.

Are you as a Product Manager using your product? Are you out there truly seeing your customer’s needs and experiences? Did you do this and just have not done it lately or stopped all together? Start! Today! Please!