Tools vs Services

Last edited 8th September 2020

Tools product design Emergence Building Things

From Nikita Tonsky's post:

simplicity lets you use it as a tool you can apply, sometimes creatively, to your task, not as a service you have to put up with.
It’s kind of funny, how commercial apps have feature bloat but don’t have power mode. You can do more different things, but can’t configure them to your liking.

Tools are simple, no frills, even daunting to start using. Services are branded, "golden path" hoops you need to jump through to access the underlying tool. When using a tool, you are an active participant in the creation process, sometimes frustratingly so. Services, in contrast, your participation is much more passive and the only things you can really change is the extent to which you participate in the service, or informing the service about your data you wished to be processed.

With tools, you can create communities which improve the stickiness of your product and helps people use the tool for accomplishing more human things instead relying on users to keep paying for a service and incentivizing them through notifications / gamefication / being a time suck. Though tools can be a time suck as well when you really dig into configuration, but that's half the fun ;)