RE: Accepting "Crappy" Software (Was: Slow Down Development, NO; Speed up Minds, YES)

Subject: RE: Accepting "Crappy" Software (Was: Slow Down Development, NO; Speed up Minds, YES)
From: Chuck Martin <CMartin -at- serena -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 14:58:48 -0700

> -----Original Message-----
> From: edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
> [mailto:edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com]
> Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2000 2:42 PM
> Subject: Accepting "Crappy" Software (Was: Slow Down Development, NO;
> Speed up Minds, YES)
> I think many miss the point when it comes to whether the
> market accepts bad
> software and why.
> At the beginning, clients rarely, if ever, have the choice
> between good and bad
> software. Many times there is no choice.
> If you are developing cutting edge software, the first to
> market becomes the
> ONLY one on the market. By the time the competition arrives,
> they have to fight
> the installed user base whether their product is better or not.

> The moral? Deliver FIRST! Provide enough functionality to
> satisfy basic demands.
> Deal with the problems later when your competition is filing
> for bankruptcy.
> This is a scenario that has played out in every industry.
> When software stops
> making leaps and bounds with each release (and it's
> happening), the software
> industry will also mature. Or, more likely, consumers will
> start to demand more
> value for their dollar than whiz-bang cutting edge technology.

In Alan Cooper's book and articles, most notably in his latest book, "The
Inmates are Running the Asylum," he refutes this mentality and presents many
case studies where better software--where "better" is defined as more
usable, not less buggy--wins in the market over who got there first. Every

This piss-on-the-customer/user mentality just to get some software out first
is anathema to every fiber of my technical communicator being. (It's also
why, for 3 years now, I've drifted from job to job seeking that
customer-first-makes-quality-software mentality that permeated the company
that I loved, but left [for non-work, personal reason] 3 years ago.) I am
passionate about making software easy to use and easy to understand, working
to eliminate users' frustrations and annoyances, especially in areas that
can be easily corrected.

Do you know why the Pilot/PalmPilot/Palm is so successful? It's not because
it was first, not by a long shot. The creator (I forgot the name) carved a
piece of wood in the approximate size of the original, and carried it around
with him on a day-to-day basis, in pockets, on desks, and so on. As he went
through his workday, he would pretend to use it for various tasks, and
developed the ideas of how it should be used from those day-to-day
interactions. It became a huge success because it does the palm-size form
factor *right*. (Or at least much righter than anything before it or since.)

"I don't entirely understand it but it is true: Highly skilled carpenters
don't get insulted when told they are not architects, but highly skilled
programmers do get insulted when they are told they are not UI designers."
- anonymous programmer quoted in "GUI Bloopers"
by Jeff Johnson

Chuck Martin, Sr. Technical Writer
cmartin -at- serena -dot- com

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