I’m a co-founder of Checkvist - online outliner and task manager for geeks. It is a part-time project, and we started it with intention to create a tool to manage complex tasks, online, and completely from the keyboard. Over the time, we added lots of features, and now people even call it “geek’s swiss army knife”. Like any outliner, Checkvist has many use cases, and may be useful to someone in this community as well.
Thanks a lot, Rhino! The market is tough, you’re absolutely right.
Actually, the “for geeks” focus is a recent addition - previously it was plain “for teams”. But given that our initial idea was a tool focused on fast work from the keyboard, we decided to narrow the focus, added Markdown, code highlighting, and now we target to, well, geeks
The free plan seems to be heavy on advanced features, don’t you think?
Export to OPML (had to look it up), creating tasks via email… those, IMHO, belong to Pro. Free is to get a taste of the best sides of the product (complete keyboard-based control?). Got taste => got used to => want more => ready to pay.
The two-box pricing model looks incomplete. Not only everyone got used to third box named “Teams” or “Enterprise” (where sharing, watch list and assignments belong), but it creates a heavy anchor on the price that makes Pro look cheap.
Having said that… Pro is $10 / 3mo? $3.3 a month? That smells like a lack of self-respect! (No offense).
I do understand that the TODO market is a massacre. But the price does sends a message, doesn’t it?
If you believe you should keep the current price, at least keep only 39/yr option. That price looks respectable.
How about extracting some of the functionality into paid add-ons? “File attachments (500 MB)” certainly an add-on. OK, may be attachments of NN MB in total are free, but above that it makes sense to have it priced separately.
Mobile offline could be an add-on too (online is for base package). Offline has it separate value, and it is understood by anyone who goes on business far from city borders.
User interface customization, I believe, belongs to Team version => white labeling with a company’s logo, contacts and whatnot. In short, anything that implies 2+ people is a Team version.
Hey! How about a hosted version? Goes into Enterprise version. (Many companies are still really paranoid. They do understand the benefits of the cloud, but rollout their internal cloudy setups.)
Just my thoughts.
P.S. I should try to use it again. Last time (some 5 years ago?) I ignored the keyboard learning part, and hence failed to feel the coolness.
You do not put enough “community proof”. You have some customer feedback, but you should also include a live counter “1 thousand billion million tasks completed since 1985!” and make that counter running.
By the way, that design of the counter – not digits, but the spelled out value – could be fun to watch and I believe quite original. Permission granted to use freely!
thanks for the detailed analysis of what we have on the business side and for your suggestions.
I’ll try to comment on most of them.
Export to OPML is not PRO because we don’t want to force people to pay if they want to migrate to another tool. It doesn’t feel ethic, kind of “pay us if you want to leave us”.
Creating tasks via E-mail could be PRO, and we wanted to make it so. But this feature was developed by a friend and a customer. He created a free online service which offered this feature using our OpenAPI, so we just adopted it inside Checkvist.
Very true, but we need more features to make Team offer more attractive. Something like Slack integration. Hope we’ll implement something like this later this year.
Yes, probably, but we don’t have a huge demand for bigger attachments. OTOH, we might include offline mobile client as an option for PRO users only, but currently Checkvist mobile is in the alpha state and misses some critical features.
Very reasonable idea, we have it in our tracker for several years The standalone company-hosted version would require much more effort and support than we’re ready to provide right now. It is truly a separate big project. Technically it is quite possible to implement such solution in a form of a docker image, I think.
We used to have some counters in earlier versions of the web-site. Actually, it didn’t work well in our case, more specifically, we haven’t noticed noticeable conversion changes when we removed them.
Thank you very much again for sharing your ideas. I’ll be glad you give Checkvist another try and this time it will be more useful for you than before
Hey Kirill, I’m a longtime use of Checkvist and I tend to agree that you’re providing a huge value for free. I upgraded to the pro version a while back to help you out, but I didn’t have any real reason to upgrade based on features.
Have you considered restricting the number of lists or items per list for free accounts? You could grandfather in existing users and only have the restrictions for new signups.
Hello Dan, glad to see you here! Thanks a lot for using Checkvist and for your lasting support. By the way, what do you think about multiple selection support as a PRO feature?
About limiting the number of items per account - we thought about this, as well as about eliminating the free plan altogether. But this may noticeably reduce the number of active users, and right now we wouldn’t want to do this. So I think we won’t do this in the near time.
Multiple selection is a very useful feature, but it doesn’t seem like a PRO feature to me. But that’s just me.
I consider Dropbox a good example of having a great free service with a gentle push to upgrade when you’re using it more. Of course they also used the referral program to grow. Have you thought about that as a method to grow? If someone refers 5 users they could get a free PRO upgrade for 6 months or something along those lines.
Thanks for your thoughts (and for your latest payment)
Actually, we tried using a referral program. The idea was to pay back users who refer Checkvist to other customers, who finally become PRO. We used an external service to implement this, ReferralCandy. It haven’t worked at all for us (the new traffic was negligible), and after 3-4 months we canceled this program.
Sorry for not following up for long, I was without inet at home, and was conserving my traffic.
First, I’d like to make it clear that all that is said here, is said in a good faith and with a desire to help, and not as a critique of the service. Just in case my comments sound too rude.
I also assume that, since you’ve come here and introduced your project, you’re not fully satisfied with how it is going, and is looking for ways to improve. Hence the barrage of the suggestions.
If you’d be more specific what is your goal, the suggestions may become more targeted, BTW
So, my first question would be: are you looking to improve Checkvist as a business, or as a free service?
I was assuming “as a business” (living close to US affects one’s thinking), and hence all my suggestions were targeted that way.
But I can totally imagine this service be a great “body of work” project that helps the owner to find new consulting gigs.
So, what’s your ideal vision for Checkvist?
(BTW, the name Checkvist is impossible to remember. I was going to refer it to a friend a few years ago, and found that I couldn’t recall the name! I guess it is because the “vist” part means nothing.)
It wouldn’t be ethic, for sure. I though do not suggest to block the OPML export completely. Make it available to the free tier if they decided to close the account. E.g., just email the exported lists to them after the account is closed.
Then there is a question of how many freeloaders actually need the export. Me, for example – my list is less than 100 items long, and, even if I had no export, I could always copy the list manually. I do not have a use for closed tasks.
I’m sure there are users with much longer, detailed lists. But those are Pro in my book.
Hmm… This is a tricky story.
Email is one of the most useful media for Pro users. Your service however gave it away to a free service. Now a whole direction of potential development is blocked by this free offering. That service, strictly speaking, has no legal commitment to your service, and (correct me if I’m wrong) is not necessary aligning its plans with Checkvist.
All in all, I would consider what email-related features are useful for Pro users (forward, tasks from email, changelog, …), and offered them in the Pro version only.
I would remove all email features from the Free tier. The free tier could still use email via that OpenAPI service, but that would not be prominent in the documentation.
I think you have enough features to justify the third tier. You just need to re-arrange them.
Also, you may have the same features, but set different usage limits.
Practically, I think it is pretty easy to do – you need to review all the accounts that have access by 3+ people (that would be considered a team), and see how there usage pattern differs from accounts with 2 people (those I would call Pro – a rainmaker and a helper). Then put the differences into Team tier.
You can add Slack integration when requested. Slack is cool and all that, but it has to be proven that the paying customers want it. For my team, for instance, Slack is blocked by corp security. (Checkvist is not however it would be as soon as corp security learns that some corp data are stored on external service).
It doesn’t matter
When a business decides what layer they want, they will grab all the features they might potentially need.
For example, it was only once in 3 years that we needed to share a large file with all of our team. But if we’d be buying an account, we’d surely included “large attachments” – just in case. The price difference is negligible for a business.
Another example – our management offered us each to install a plugin for Outlook that lists TFS tickets related to us. The plugin costs $100 per seat. The management provided this reasoning: it takes about a minute to start Eclipse or VS to get an access to a TFS. Full cost of a worker time is about $1-1.5/minute. Even if the plugin saves us only 1 minute a day, it will pay for itself in 3 months.
So… make a Team tier, please.
I have to note again though that adding the Team tier requires re-balancing of the free and Pro tiers.
There is a guy who made an application that supports Checkvist on Android.
That makes me think of two things:
May be it worth to “offload” the development of the mobile client to him (or anyone willing). I understand you have a very limited hands-on capacity.
The access to Checkvist API should only be available to Pro. It could be meter-based, but it is not fully fair game, when someone makes a commercial application, and uses your API for free.
Re: Usage on mobile
I have tried to use Checkvist web-application on mobile phone with a large screen (Sony Xperia Ultra, 6.4" screen), and two things prevented me from any usage:
The fonts and everything are too small. I had to squint my eyes. It is clear that the mobile version must have a different CSS.
The selling point of Checkvist – keyboard actions – become the downside, because the virtual keyboard continue to popup and disappear, seemingly randomly. I wonder if it is possible for a web site to tell the keyboard to stick?
Then again, Checkvist with mobile CSS could be a Pro tier.
I see. As I have said already, the usage of Checkvist from inside of old-style corporations can be blocked any moment, because the standard policy is not to store any internal information on outside servers.
A hosted version could help with it.
Another option is a plugin for SharePoint and/or Outlook/Exchange.
Now, I do not believe you should do any of that now, but you should start collecting the requests. I.e. (may be) put something like “Hosted version (WIP)” under the Team tier and ask the subscribers what are their requirements for that. You can also fire a quite survey of your current users that are having corporate email.
I know our team would love to have a shared ToDo, but there are policies. First is the already mentioned security thing, and then, I believe, it is required that all data are stored on SharePoint.
I’m sure other corporate accounts have their own policies, and it is not wise to start investing into something before you know the field better.
Who knows, may be you’d have to exclude Corp Team and only have Small Startup Team tier, i.e. teams under 20 in numbers with little or no bureaucracy.
Re: Using Checkvist on large screens
One more note: I have started to use Checkvist again, and this time I have learned the keyboard first. It goes much better now, I may stick with it for long. We’ll see.
What I noticed however is that the screen layout seems to be designed for 15" monitor. I.e. on my ThinkPad it looks perfect - no wasted space, and yet everything is clearly visible. When I dock my ThinkPad though, and work on 28" monitor, there are huge wasted fields on the sides. A whole second column of tasks could have fit in the space – or may be, a secondary list.
Adding the aforementioned issue with Checkvist on mobile, I think you should consider a CSS that re-arranges the layout. For instance, Hints sidebar should disappear if the window is too narrow, and such.
It is not a feature at all, IMHO. It is a precursor for other features. You select multiple items to do some bulk operations. So the bulk operation is the feature.
Now, is bulk operation more useful for a Pro or Team user, that to a Free one?
I’m not sure it is.
Both Free and Pro can close multiple tasks at once. Pro or Team can bulk-assign a number of tasks to another user, but it is the assignment that is a Pro feature, not bulk itself.
So in essence, I believe multiple select should be equally available for all.
Yeah, this is the important note.
With all the suggestions above I assumed that the existing accounts are grandfathered, unless it is too hard to do technically (it shouldn’t be; at worst case you can migrate them to Pro and provide a 10 years worth of credit).
You shouldn’t eliminate them, I believe. Not now, anyway.
But limiting the number of lists (AKA projects) is a reasonable thing to do. And it will be understood by the community, because more lists = more records in the database = more load on the server. It is not an artificial limitation, but a very reasonable one.
As for number of lists… again, you have your usage stats. How many lists a typical active free user has? I’d guess 1. I have 3 already, but one is for my commercial project, and one for my client’s projects, hence I should be in Pro tier (but you did not push me into it, so I’m staying). Later I may want to share some of those lists with my coworkers – and that should NOT be possible if I’m not Pro.
Re: Email sequence
I have noticed that you do not send me emails with tips and updates (do you? may be they go to spam?).
If you’re serious about Pro and Team, you should build the sequences for Free (pushing them to Pro and Team) and for Pro (pushing them to Team).
Smart Passive Income podcast recently had an issue on exactly that:
Good idea. But it could also backfire. The new users referred by Free are all Free. A referral from a Pro would be a more useful thing, but Pro are not as inclined to work hard for a few extra dollars – they presumably have a good income already.
I believe promoting “share” and “assign” features to Pro would generate a better quality referrals – i.e. the Pro would share and assign to coworkers, which means to potentially Pro users themselves.
P.S. BTW, the changelog feature I mentioned – it is certainly Pro. The idea is that for my professional tasks I need to build an invoice at the end of the period. The easiest way is (if using Checkvist) to review the tasks closed within the period.
Of course, the spent time is nice to add to that… may be some modificator to space key, e.g. Ctrl-Space to ask for time… or easier yet, first Ctrl-Space to set time to 1 hr, second Ctrl-Space to 2 hrs and so on (configurable).
And, another “of course” is that you should poll your users if they need it. I need it, but I’m just a single user.
P.P.S. Used Upgrade to Trial for using attachments. Issue: the changes are not immediately in effect. The [at] menu is still grey. Only when I went to settings and back, it got enabled.
Now, this is the right placement for this feature! Attachments are Pro, no doubt. Large attachments then should be for Team and available in Pro as an $1 add-on.
Complain: the file icon is not reflecting the file type. I have PowerPoint (*.pptx) attached, and the icon is for a generic file.
P.P.P.S. Another potential Pro add-on is the password-encryption of the list after the session end. I.e. the list is stored encrypted on the server; only when I login and enter my list password, it gets decrypted – into memory. If someone steals the database, the list is not readable. (Again, poll is required).
P.P.P.P.S. Long file names in attachments cannot be read. When there mouse is not over, they are truncated. When it is over, they overlap to the next name. Given that many files in my projects have the same long prefix (project name, project code, and only then the differential part), I cannot really tell which file is which.
OOPS. The attached file has disappeared:
The page you were looking for doesn’t exist.
You may have mistyped the address or the page may have moved.
Checklists are everywhere, just not always materialized.
In operations teams, checklists are helping a lot, but unfortunately not used very often. You can tell which team uses checklists by the number of configuration mistakes they make.
Which is yet another possible feature for your Team account: checklist template: create a new checklist based on a template for a specific procedure. E.g., imagine a process called “Configure Weblogic with OSB 11g for consumer domain”. This process has some 50 steps. Our operations team repeats it pretty often (we have ~100 weblogic test domains), with some variations needed depending on project (usually endpoints). They are using a Word document called “Migration Sheet”, executing as they read, and geez, in 50% of cases the environment has at least one issue - due to missed steps.
Instead, they could have made a checklist template for this process. For every new project the DEV team would create an instance of that list, updated the necessary endpoints, credentials and whatnot, and passed it down to operations, to scratch down the steps one by one – and be sure nothing is missing.
The operations work all consists of a large number of standard step-by-step checklists-like tasks.
And there are a lot of other teams in the world that have to follow checklist-list procedures.
That (team-oriented checklists) could be a whole separate product (which could share the same codebase with Checkvist, just needs a very different marketing).
The fun thing is, you can use such a kind of process in Checkvist already.
You can create a list, name it “Template: Weblogic+OSB11g”. Fill it with tasks. When you need to perform this procedure for an existing customer, you copy/clone this list “toolbar=>more actions=>Copy(Move) to another list”, make appropriate modifications and pass it to operations team. Easy as that. You can try it
And from our business perspective, here comes the marketing part. Checkvist is a generic outliner, packed with features. And can be used for very different purposes and in different areas. People make checklists, write books and blog posts, have birthday calendars, collect notes. And this makes marketing hard.
One idea I had is to create dedicated landing pages for specific tasks and promote it via AdWords. Not sure if it will work, never used AdWords before.