Woodworking Design Software – Communication Keys

Closed doorI designed SketchList 3D and continue to change it, hopefully for the better.  I take pride in the hope that my software is helping people become better woodworkers and / or improve their woodworking businesses.  Talking with a friend about SketchList I was trying to tell him how much I communicate with my users.

Later I thought to myself:  “Do I communicate?”   George Bernard Shaw once said “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  Sometimes things are  obvious to us – but like the need for the sign on door in the photo shows  – things maybe not so obvious to everyone.

As hard as we work to make our furniture design software useful and easy to use, without effective communication,  you may find the software not that user friendly.

I want to outline some (all / most?) of the ways in which you can communicate with me about SketchList 3D.

First is the how level. 

Webpage — we put all sorts of videos on the webpage.  Most are in response to user questions or confusions.  We even have a copy of the manual on the webpage – for those users who still like to read off paper!

Email works best since I am almost always at my email – either desk or phone.  It is fast and efficient, although it works in bursts of one direction messages.   However it is great at sending information – an image, a file, or a screen shot of an error message.  (More on screen shots later.)   I get emails with a question / problem and sometimes ask the sender to export a copy of the project and send that to me.  [SketchList – under file you will find Import / Export project.  Select the project, save it, attach it to an email and send it to me.]  Then I can load that woodworking design software project and actually see what you’re talking about.Sketchlist user inquiry of Sketchlist woodworking design software

Telephones are still around and if you are a SketchList customer you have my number.  Call me and if I can I’ll answer.  I can’t answer if

I’m driving along,
I’m with someone else,
Or my phone’s dead…

Just like you can’t answer at all times.  But you can leave a message and I will call back.  Or sometimes I’ll just call you.  If I get an email from someone and it is clear a call is the best way to answer, I call.  It’s fun to hear the surprise in peoples’ voices when they actually get a call from ‘the SketchList  guy’.

Interactive computer connection.  I use a service that allows my computer to connect to yours over the internet.  I have designed many, many projects with people online.  It’s a good way to learn SketchList, understand problems, and to fix things.

[Screen shots.  Both Windows and MAC have basic abilities to grab an image of your screen, or part of your screen.  You can also download (free or paid) software that does this.  I use SnagIt but any other will do. ]

Future ‘how’  level additions.

  1. Twitter, LinkedIn and / or Facebook – Having grown up in a time where phones were always wired to the wall I must admit some of this new stuff is beyond my grasp.  I’d like to hear from you all about Twitter LinkedIn and or Facebook.  Would you use it?  Should we do it?
  2. Blog responses.

The ‘what’ level.

What is it that gets communicated and what happens to it.

  1. Emails – all sorts of email comes in.  Most of it gets answered right off, some gets deleted, and some gets filed [like questions which are used in our webpage FAQ section].
  2. Suggestions for features.  These fall into several groups.
    • Already in the product.
    • Already in the product plan.
    • Great idea – put on list.
    • Great idea – outside of the product scope.
    • Not so good idea.
  3. Crash reports – these get checked to see the user is running the newest version [Currently V2.0.1.1684] of the software.  If not he / she is asked to upgrade.  If the newest code is being used, the email is passed onto the programmer.  The attached files contain information that allows us to find the error and fix it.  The fixes are added to the software and posted for download after passing the QA process.  We batch the fixes distributions and upload it every couple of weeks unless the bug is really significant.  Then we post it immediately.
  4. Questions on pricing, upgrading, replacing computers, second copy keys and so forth.  With the upcoming MAC release we are redoing the shopping cart page to address as many of these questions as possible.

So as always if you have a question or a comment, please contact me with it.  Improving communication is a key to improving service.

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