There’s a big difference between trying something and using something.

Trying something is more common than using something. That’s why most products are optimized for trying.

Trying something is looking at some screenshots, signing up, playing with it for a couple of minutes, forming an opinion, and then moving on. Trying is mainly about first impressions and surface appeal.

Most product reviews are based on trying something, not using something. That’s why many reviews are pretty thin or don’t get to the core essence of the product. The real deep knowledge of a product can only come from using it. Using it is what reveals greatness or failure on an intimate level.

You don’t notice the quirks and shortcuts when you try something. Those revelations only come from real use. Eye candy shines during trial, but fades fast during use. Cool wears off quick, usefulness never does.

Think of the difference between something painted gold and something made of gold. They’re both gold now, but once the paint wears off the first one you’re looking at something different. On the other hand the solid gold one continues to be gold no matter how much you use it.

In some ways it’s the difference between meeting someone and knowing someone. You don’t know someone until you’ve really spent some time with them. How do they react in certain situations? Are they kind or only friendly on the surface? Are they smart or can they just recite a few facts? The same goes for a product. How does the product react? Is the product just clever enough or is it too clever? How does the product make you feel when you use it?

... I don’t know how to end this post, but I’ve been sitting on the content for about a week now so I figured I’d share it as is. It’s been a frustrating post to put together and I’m not sure why. I’m having a difficult time clearly explaining why the difference between trial and usage is such an important distinction. Anyone care to finish my thoughts?