The Post-It Note was created in 1977, but the original idea was actually discovered by accident almost 10 years earlier, in 1968. The truth is that it took those 9 years (and then some) to create a product that consumers could wrap their heads around and really start using. Now you see them everywhere.
The moral of the story is that what seems normal now was probably a little difficult for people to adapt to initially, simply because it was new, and “we’ve always done it this way” is something we say far too often. We hear this sometimes from people who are stuck on using paper sticky notes. They see online sticky notes and think “why wouldn’t I just keep using the paper ones?”. It’s really not so different than the initial Post-It note users that initially didn’t see any need for the product.
So what takes a product from “meh” to “I can’t live without this”? Generally, it’s when a problem can be solved with the new product, even if the consumer doesn’t realize yet that there’s a problem. In the case of the original Post-It it may have been a matter of having people realize that the notes could be applied and removed and applied again to any surface, without the use of tape or tacks that could be damaging. That was the revolutionary technology that won people over in the 1970s and 80s.
So if sticky notes are still serving the same function they did in 1977, what problems are online sticky notes solving? Here are a few, for starters:
- After you’ve plastered a wall or whiteboard with sticky notes the only way you can record that information for further development or reference is a photograph. That photograph often goes nowhere, because it’s difficult to see the sticky notes or turn them into actionable steps without a lot of transcribing. Sticky notes in an online environment are already automatically recorded and ready for the next phase of the project. No need to take a picture or spend hours transcribing.
- For big projects involving sticky notes you need a lot of physical space, and that isn’t always available. If you had unlimited walls to cover in sticky notes you could just walk back over and jog your memory, but the chances are that the sticky notes will come down after a short period of time and the spatial memory you developed while they were up on the wall is no longer useful. When you’re using online sticky notes they stay exactly where you left them and you’re able to access that spatial memory every time you log in.
- Physical sticky notes don’t have reportable voting and commenting functions. You can discuss what someone has written on a sticky note, but someone would then have to create new sticky notes to record the discussion. Counting vote dots on sticky notes is also a pain. We hear from people all the time about how much time and agony online sticky notes are saving them.
- Think of all those trees you’re killing! As we become increasingly aware of our impact on the environment it’s important to ask ourselves how much paper we really need to use. A book may sit in a library for 50 years and be read by thousands of people, but a sticky note generally has a lifespan of a couple hours. Is it really worth using all that paper?
So while you may be stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality, sometimes all it takes is seeing the advantages of a new solution put into practice. Consumers in 1977 didn’t know that they needed sticky pieces of paper, but look at us now.
Now that you know why online sticky notes are better than their 1977 cousins you can start saving paper, and yourself from headaches, while producing better results in less time. All it takes to witness the advantages for yourself is the willingness to try something new.