Greg DeVore

By: Greg DeVore on May 9th, 2012

Print/Save as PDF

Why would you buy Clarify if you already own ScreenSteps?


We get the question "Why would I purchase Clarify if I already own ScreenSteps? pretty frequently.

I may not be able to answer that for *you* but I can tell you why *I* use both Clarify and ScreenSteps and why we created Clarify in the first place.

Why did we create Clarify?

The simple answer is that we had a need that ScreenSteps wasn't meeting. We used ScreenSteps all of the time for creating how-to's and documentation. But there were dozens of times each week when something like ScreenSteps would be perfect. But we didn't use ScreenSteps. We muddled on with text-only communications.

What were these situations? It was firing off a quick how-to to a customer that only applied to them. It was filing a bug report with a software vendor. It was trying to get help with a technical problem we were having. It was trying to point out website revisions. It was trying to point out key elements of a report.

In each of these situations ScreenSteps seemed too "heavy". We had to decide what to title the lessons we created. The lessons got stored into our library whether or not we wanted to keep them. And in ScreenSteps we had all of these features that made creating documentation simple but got in the way of quick, one-off communications.

For awhile we tried to add these workflows into ScreenSteps. But it never worked. We never really adopted the new workflows and explaining what ScreenSteps "did" became increasingly difficult as it was trying to do too many things. We decided that we needed to create a totally new product that focused on creating speedy, one-off communications instead of creating documentation. It was take the essential parts of ScreenSteps and streamline them. That is what Clarify is.

So what do I use now?
I use both applications almost everyday. All of our product documentation and business process documentation is done in ScreenSteps. Everything else is done in Clarify. Here is a sample of what I have used Clarify for in the past few days:

  • Highlighted some key areas of an A/B testing report to send to a friend.
  • Submitted about 5 technical questions to our online store service as we are setting up some new products there.
  • Filed some bug reports in Pivotal Tracker for bugs that we need to fix.
  • Showed our email marketing vendor a problem we were having with an email template.
  • Showed a customer how I made some changes to their account.
  • Posted some images to a forum I participate in.
  • Uploaded some images to a Basecamp discussion thread.

In that same time period I used ScreenSteps to:

  • Add updated lessons to our Clarify manual
  • Add updated lessons to our ScreenSteps manual
  • Create several procedural lessons for some of the backend systems we use to operate our business.

Some interesting things about how I use Clarify:

  • About 90% of the documents I create in Clarify I don't save. They are really just transient communications that I don't need to reuse.
  • I rarely create PDFs (though we have a lot of Clarify customers that do). I tend to share to and then insert the url into a forum post, IM or email.
  • I drag images out of Clarify a lot to upload them to services like Basecamp and Pivotal Tracker.

So, that is why we created Clarify. If you want a little more of a feature comparison then you can check out this page. But for me, feature lists are rarely important. What is more important is not only what I can do with a piece of software but what I will do with a piece of software. Really good software isn't about features. It is about changing people's behavior, helping them do things that they wouldn't or couldn't do before.

We created Clarify because were weren't using ScreenSteps in all of the situations where we could have benefited from something like ScreenSteps. If you are a current ScreenSteps user then you might find that Clarify would help you in the same way.

About Greg DeVore

CEO of ScreenSteps