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Why user generated software disappoints you

Why user generated software disappoints you
By Aron Korenblit • Issue #42 • View online
Today 6PM EST on the stream I’m excited to welcome Stephen O'Grady, founder of Podcast Delivery & automation expert to show us how to Manage, edit and send a newsletter from Airtable using Integromat!
You can add this invite to your calendar to tune in live or follow on twitch to get notified every time I’m live.
You can add all future streams to your calendar by clicking here (it auto updates!).
Full calendar of future guests here.
You can watch last week’s replay of Automate from your phone with Siri shortcuts with Matthew Cassinelli, Siri shortcuts expert, where we built a mobile web clipper for Airtable using Siri shortcuts.
Onto the update…

Heyo,
Customers are the heart of every business. It’s the customer who decides whether or not a company survives, nay thrives. Recommending to listen and iterate on customer feedback is at the heart of every VC’s/thought leader’s content strategy.
If you think of a content marketing tool—or any other vertical tool/offering—the audience is quite clear. What would make content marketers use our tool more? What would make them happier? You can segment further and ask what would rejoice content marketers who already use our tool or content marketers with a 10K budget make the switch to our tool?
In the case of user generated tools, that advice gets a little murky. User generated software by their nature, have a more diverse audience than any other software out there. It offers primitives so anyone can build what they want and expand on its functionality.
And who they should build for can be unclear and vary wildly. In the early days, it’s unclear what benefit anyone gets from the platform. Put yourself in the shoes of the early days of Zapier with a few connections built out—what’s next? Focus on making those connections deeper or increase the number of connections offered? What about adding native logic? Zapier opted for the former and built out thousands of connections in the following years.
Logic within Zapier was therefore deprioritized. It took roughly 5 years to launch Paths (conditional logic) despite that being at the top of every user’s wishlist! That “delay” was a conscious decision from Zapier to prioritize some users—folks who wanted more connections—over others—power users who needed logic in their flows. It’s not only about prioritizing features for different proficiency levels: Zapier may have had to prioritize connections in a vertical over another, Zapier apps vs native apps etc.
Multiply these trade offs amongst a very large group of folks, add in the complexity of building primitives, and you’ve got a recipe for a frustrated user base, all asking themselves why their features aren’t being prioritized.
This discontent should not however make you feel powerless! I’d even go so far as to say that the most value you can bring as a user to a platform is your passionate voice about what they should build. But remember that your voice is one among many and that the way to be heard is by being persuasive, passionate and understanding!
This train of thought is brought to you by Matthew Cassinelli who has been arguing of the importance of mobile for prosumer tools (including Airtable) for years even if it would mean that we no longer used his Siri shortcuts (his area of expertise)! Those types of passionate but reasoned pleas are exactly what gets platforms to budge (having a huge budget helps also, so I’ve heard).
I’ll end by saying that I am here for all of your complaints. Not because I have any influence on Airtable’s or any other tool’s roadmap but as a power user, I feel your pain and I like commiserating with you all.
Button + IF = built-in business logic
I am a huge fan of Airtable’s button field. It’s definitely one of the field types that punches way above its weight. It can trigger scripts, open a dynamic URL, open up all of Zapier’s action via a webhook (I cover all of these here).
One thing that goes unnoticed is that you can use formulas within the button field to generate the URL the button opens. That means you can use an IF statement to put validation directly within the button.
Let’s say you want to trigger an invoice sent from Stripe at the click of a button field (via Zapier webhook) but only if the record has a recipient and all of the payments field have been filled. You can create validation directly in the button field such that it only triggers the webhook if all of the conditions are fulfilled otherwise it’s an empty URL (and therefore not clickable). Here’s how to build it:
You can put your validation directly in the button field conditions
You can put your validation directly in the button field conditions
Now you've added your business logic directly into your workflow!
Now you've added your business logic directly into your workflow!
Links from the interwebs
I now have a way to add links to Airtable (and Revue but need to set that up!) from my phone so this should be easier going forward but no promises!

Five Questions For Aron Korenblit - Automatter
The less you own, the less owns you - Automatter
How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Career - The New York Times
Building a modular software toolkit | by Airtable | The Airtable Engineering Blog | Feb, 2021 | Medium
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