In short, Whimsical started out as a web app for flowcharts. They’ve since expanded their product set.
In their words, Whimsical is “The visual workspace – collaborative wireframes, flowcharts, sticky notes and mind maps.“
In full disclosure, I’ve been a fan of Whimsical since Clayton introduced them to me when they first launched in 2018.
Whimsical is one of the most underrated tools out there in terms of prototyping, wireframes, flowcharts, etc. https://t.co/4eqau3be6V
— JR Farr (@jrfarr) October 2, 2019
Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s dive into our Whimsical review.
What we love about Whimsical.
No one is perfect but it’s hard to deny the attractive quality of Whimsical. Across many fronts – brand, design, product – their focus and implementation has quickly put them in a place that's hard not to admire.
As much as we love the product and the brand of Whimsical, there are a few areas of improvement the team could focus on.
We’ll get into those shortly, but first, let’s talk about where Whimsical is hitting the customer experience mark.
We can’t kick off all the reasons we love Whimsical without mentioning speed first.
When you first start using Whimsical, one of the first things you’ll notice is the performance of the product. And because of that, once you find a rhythm or flow of ideas, the product allows you to work lightning fast.
I get it. In 2020, you expect a product to work seamlessly but with a combination of great engineering and a slick UI, this is an area Whimsical really excels.
If you haven’t used the product, give it a shot and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Like the title of this post suggests, Whimsical works so well because of the simplicity and focus within their product.
The best part is it’s 100% intentional. It’s by design. There are a lot of things the product doesn’t allow you to do purposely.
By limiting your choices for a very specific reason you’re able to flesh out ideas without distraction.
For example, if you’re working through design ideas in a high fidelity tool like Figma or Sketch you get stuck in the details. But like a traditional whiteboard, you have a big fat marker and it forces you to think in a different frame of mind.
Allowing you to layout ideas at a high-level. And of course, at high-speed.
As mentioned earlier, Whimsical was strictly a flowchart tool. But since they’ve launched, they have been introducing more tools to their product.
As of today, you can create flowcharts, wireframes, sticky notes and mind maps.
But that’s not the point. The thing we loved is how they have seamlessly integrated the new product features.
As you’re working within a board you can essentially switch between “modes”. It’s pretty nifty.
There’s no need to download bulky software. No final_final_final.jpg because you and your team are always on the latest version.
You can access your flowcharts or wireframes without the hassle of needing to have their app.
I’m wrapping up the “good” from our experience with Whimsical on something you could argue has nothing to do with the experience at all.
But in my mind, because of their ability to execute as a self-funded company, the product seems to be built for the long haul. More importantly, with their customers at the focus rather than the investor’s return.
It’s a subtle thing but to us at Weav, also self-funded, it hits close to home.
Areas to improve.
As much as we appreciate what Whimiscal has built, we’ve got some constructive feedback from our Whimsical review too.
Let’s start with their pricing strategy first.
At the surface level, I can appreciate the simplicity of their pricing strategy. Freemium and then one paying plan (monthly or annual).
There are a few fundamental issues with this approach.
- For starters, with their price point, they need a really big user base to make a meaningful amount of money to support the free user base. Let alone a team and other expenses to grow the company.
- Combining the per-user SaaS pricing model and no feature separation among the plans is tricky**.** By charging per user, you are creating a wall for more adoption from the team. It creates a behavior of using shared logins across the team to cheat the system. Seeing that this product would excel with teams, that is the opposite effect Whimsical should be after.
- Watch out for churn**.** As I just mentioned above, with this pricing model, you incentivize the behavior to share logins. This kills adoption for more team members. Who’s more likely to churn? A team of 50 people using your product, or a team of 2?
NOTE — freemium isn’t really a pricing strategy. It’s more of a customer acquisition play in my opinion.
Navigating between workspaces, projects, people etc. feels a little all over the place.
This could be a symptom of the product expansion I mentioned above and the Whimsical team trying to merry everything together.
Regardless, the process of managing personal vs. team account. Switching between projects. Etc. It’s cumbersome and it doesn’t have the same “elegance” the rest of the product has.
With a little bit of focused effort here, they could make this dramatically easier.
As a long time user, I know Clayton asked early on about the ability to linking together a wireframe (aka prototype). Unfortunately, that feature still hasn’t been added.
This was something mentioned in the episode but I really think this could add a ton of value for customers.
Heck, customers like us.
Wrapping up our Whimsical Review.
And that about wraps up our review of Whimsical.
Like all opinions, everyone has them and they typically don’t carry much water. Take this all with a grain of salt but if we building Whimsical, these are the areas we’d focus on.
Also, it should go without saying but anyone should be proud to have a product like Whimsical. These are just ideas on how to grow to the next level.
We have mad respect for the team and what they’ve been able to build in just a few short years.
Being a bootstrapped team, there’s only so much time and resources. You have to be really selective in what you prioritize. Clearly, for Whimsical, they’ve doubled down on their strength of design and a lightning-quick interface.
And that’s the real magic behind Whimiscal.