Intuit CEO Brad Smith tells a funny, illustrative (literally) story in the January Harvard Business Review. In an article called "Intuit's CEO on Building a Design-Driven Company", Smith starts at Intuit's roots. "When Scott Cook cofounded Intuit, in 1983, many other companies were already offering software to help people track their finances," writes Smith. "In fact, at least 46 similar products launched before Quicken." In other words Intuit hardly had a first mover advantage--the joke goes that the company had the "47th mover advantage."
How then did Quicken quickly establish itself as the #1 personal finance software in the world, a position it's held for three decades? It looked good and, well, intuitive. Quicken didn't look like a typical spreadsheet. Users saw an image of a check, for instance, not a number in a box. Quicken presented a great user experience backed by good logic and visual appeal, much like how Apple distinguished itself. And there's actually proof that design was what made the Quicken difference: Smith admits that the original version of the Quicken software "offered only one-third the features that many competing products had." And yet it thrived. Because people enjoyed using it. Or as Smith now emphasizes as CEO, it was product "designed for delight."
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