Dear Web App Providers: My Wish List

Om and the team over at GigaOM recently shared “7 Things We Hope Will Come True in 2010.”¬†While that list of things are all well and good for our industry as a whole, I’ve identified a list of changes that web app providers could make that would make my work and life easier on a day-to-day basis. Here’s my web app wish list.

Help Me

I really like that you provide me with links to support and help from within your app. It’s great to have that available to me when I’m working with new features or have questions. But please provide contextual help for your application, or at least try to guess what I might be needing help with based upon where I’m coming from. Dumping me at an FAQ and making me search through it isn’t really the type of support I need. This type of help has been available in desktop apps for a long time now — it’s time to make it standard on web apps, too. Also, oftentimes “Help” links take me far away from my original page, so please make it easy for me to get back to where I started.

Integrations are Good — Please Use Them

I’m going to pick on new aggregator Cliqset here. Not because it’s a bad product, but because it was going through its setup process that it really hit me just how tired I am of needing to enter duplicate information across multiple sites. Like many other sites, Cliqset asked me to enter in all of my social identity identities. After entering a couple of them, I gave up. If it had given me the option to use my DandyID, it could gather all that info automatically and I would be much more likely to use the service.

You Are Not an Island

On a related note, if you have an API or are providing integrations with other tools and are going to change how your tool works, you’ve got to give us advanced warning. We’ve often built tools of our own that tie in to your tool, or use other applications that work with it. Even the smallest change in your program can break these connections.

If you integrate with others, you should know about their changes as well. When 37signals updated its login program, a ripple effect was felt throughout the web, as applications that integrated with its tools based on existing login IDs stopped working.

Easy Multi-user

If your application offers multi-user access with any level of permissions, please make it easy for the administrator (me) to masquerade as another user. I need to be able to easily test and verify that the settings I’m choosing for my users are working as I intended. Forcing me to log in and out with my user’s passwords is just crazy — let me see things as my user does with no hassles.

I don’t ask for much, really. Think you can take care of this stuff for me this year?

What’s on your wish list for 2010? What do you want from your web service providers this year?

Photo credit: Flickr user Sassy Frassy Lassie / CC BY-ND 2.0