One of Preceden’s most popular feature requests over the years has been the ability to upload images to Preceden and have those images appear on timelines.
A lot of competitors offer that functionality, but I procrastinated for almost 9 years for two reasons:
- It’s complex to implement, both in terms of actually handling the uploads and having them appear on the timelines.
- Most of the people that requested it were using Preceden for school timelines and that segment of users tend not to upgrade at a high rate. People using Preceden for work-related project planning timelines didn’t request it much. Therefore, it never was much of a priority because it likely wouldn’t move the needle on the business.
That said, since I’ve had more time to work on Preceden recently, I decided to finally do it. For handling uploads, I wound up using Filestack.com which simplified the implementation a lot. And updating Preceden’s rendering logic took time too, but in the end it all worked out.
I recently checked on the usage stats and – not surprisingly – it’s used most heavily by people using Preceden for education:
For users that have signed up since this launched:
- Teaching: 29% uploaded an image
- School: 26%
- Personal Use: 16%
- Work: 12%
In other words, it’s used very heavily (which is great!) but not with the segment of users with the highest propensity to pay.
This dilemma comes up fairly often: do you build Feature A that will be used heavily by mostly-free users, or Feature B that will be used heavily by mostly-paying customers?
For better or worse, I never wound up focusing on one market or use case with Preceden: it’s a general purpose timeline maker that can be used for any type of timeline. As a result though, I often get into these situations. If I was just building Preceden for project planners, I’d never implement image uploads. If I was just building it for students creating timelines for school, I’d probably have implemented it years ago.
It also comes down to goals: if my main goal is growing revenue, I probably shouldn’t work on features like this. But if I want Preceden to be the best general purpose timeline maker then it does, but there’s an opportunity cost because I’m not building features for the folks who will actually pay.
I operate in the middle for product development: work mostly on features that will make money, but also spend some percentage of my time on features like this that will make it a better general purpose tool.
If I were to start something from scratch today, I’d probably pick a narrow niche and try to nail it. No general-purpose tools. I’d recommend that to others too.
Going broad is fun in a way too though, it just has it’s challenges :).