Have you ever opened an online app for the first time and fallen hopelessly in love with it? Have you ever started noodling around with said app and found yourself suspended in a flow state, experiencing a heightened sense of awareness closely akin to genuine happiness? That’s what happened when I was introduced to PicMonkey.
If you have not yet heard of PicMonkey, it is a user-friendly, free, online photo editing service. To name just a few of the creative possibilities that the service offers: You can edit and touch-up photos, add text and overlays, use special effects, design and create images from scratch and build photo collages.
The price point for getting started is perfect: PicMonkey offers ad-supported free photo-editing features. For a “Royale” membership cost of just $33 per year, you can access premium features without the ads. It beats breaking the bank on downloadable software that requires frequent updates.
Harnessing Ease of Use, Humor and Friendliness
Although PicMonkey’s array of photo editing possibilities is impressive, I believe that its true genius shines through in its usability. PicMonkey has honed in on that sweet spot described by Einstein as “being as simple as possible, but not simpler.” As PicMonkey co-founder, chief marketing officer and “bullhorn” Lisa Conquergood said when I visited the company’s Seattle headquarters recently, “We can’t make PicMonkey easy enough. We do a lot of choosing and unchoosing to keep it simple.”
PicMonkey also brilliantly harnesses the power of humor and friendliness to create a helpful and inviting digital space. For example, when I created my first photo collage, a notification popped up that read, “When you’re done creating your collage, click the ‘Edit’ button to open it in the Editor and add text, overlays, and more. Because we love you, that’s why.”
If you pay close attention, you will notice that inside jokes abound in the user interface. When saving a file, for example, you can choose from three settings that reference the lead actors in James Bond movies: Roger “Not great quality, tiny file size”; Pierce “Great quality, good file size”; and Sean, “Gorgeous, but large file size.”
Conquergood says that PicMonkey is a “high-touch” endeavor that “works to connect with consumers.” Staff members respond to every customer email. They monitor social media and actively engage with their community. Conquergood says that PicMonkey strives to “build delight” into the brand by adhering to CEO Jonathan Sposato’s advice, “When in doubt, make it funny.” This approach seems to be working. According to Conquergood, PicMonkey occasionally receives marriage proposals via Twitter, such as “I love you PicMonkey. Will you marry me?” The company has 26.6 thousand Twitter followers, 2.4 million Facebook likes and 25 million unique visits to their website each month.
Where Is PicMonkey At Now and Where Are They Headed?
PicMonkey’s origin story is unique. It started off as the photo-editing service “Picnik” about a decade ago in Seattle. Picnik grew in popularity, attracting attention from Google, which acquired the company in 2010. Picnik died in early 2012 when Google shut it down. Some of the original Picnik staff left Google and resurrected the photo editing service as PicMonkey in April 2012. PicMonkey’s staff of about “28ish” recently moved into an open, light-filled space in downtown Seattle designed by renowned Seattle architect, Eric Cobb. Internal walls are either glass or floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, allowing for convenient collaboration. Tall windows provide expansive views of some of Seattle’s most iconic landmarks.
What lies ahead for PicMonkey? Keep your eyes out for a PicMonkey experience customized to the mobile environment, says Conquergood.
I would like to offer an idea for consideration: Currently PicMonkey skews toward the 25- to 35 year-old demographic, according to Conquergood. Perhaps members of the increasingly digitally savvy AARP set (who often function as family historians) are an untapped market for user-friendly photo editing software.
If you have not yet tried PicMonkey, what are you waiting for? Just be aware that you may drift into a delightful reverie in which time passes by unnoticed as you are drawn into testing out all of the cool photo editing features. Plan accordingly.