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Robert's Blog ideas about design and development

Is it really that important?

I've seen too many applications meet their end because people got caught up in the tripe. I've personally lost development time to "Go back and use that font" or "Make it that color blue instead". In my personal experience, managers and customers (and it gets worse as you go higher up the food chain) defer to you on all the really important stuff but try to meddle in the details. Just say no! This happens for two reasons:

  1. People like forcing demonstrable change on the system.
  2. People don't like making decisions that could have repercussions (if you live in the U.S.A, thank a lawyer for this).

Since management and the customer are playing the "Look, I'm giving them direction. You, go change the color of that font." game, why not do something prevent yourself from getting the axe when they point the finger at you? Get it out there as raw, unadorned and fast as possible. The management and marketing types are immediately going to frown and look at you. Why? Both groups like hype, pizzazz, garbage that sparkles. Why? Because we as visual beings will buy a shiny turd and stare at it just long enough for the salesman to take our money and run.

The world is getting wise.

Most software development groups care more about making money in the short run than creating a meaningful application for the long haul. The old one-off then we're done mentality of producing desktop shrink-wrapped software is past its time. Most of the programs I use are web based, and I've been using them for years (most of them without paying a cent for them!). Gmail, Google Calendar, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Google, Todoist, iGoogle just to name a few. These are the tools that help me be really productive and enjoy my leisure time, and the best thing about them is that they are all still in development. I don't use the M$ stuff unless I am forced to. I still use desktop software, but most of that has been freely downloaded: w.bloggar, Digsby, Notepad++. I am not saying there isn't room for desktop ware, but there are better delivery mechanisms available out there than boxes. The purchase of a shrink wrapped box (or a one-time push to the web) shouldn't be the end of your relationship with your customer/user base.

What you can do as a developer

  • Eliminate cruft. If its junk, leave it out. Most people would rather have 10 lean robust single-purpose programs than a piece of junk multi-tool
  • Deliver less
  • Deliver more often. If you deliver small changes more frequently you won't confuse your user, and you'll look like you are being responsive.

Yes, I'm rehashing old ideas, but bad habits take forever to die.

Incremental and iterative development were talked about before the word "agile" meant anything to do with software. Why do people still chose to ignore these ideas? Because they believe, "That won't work here." Most people saying that haven't bothered to stop and think, "How could we make that work here?" People that argue against changing their outdated ways usually do so out of a fear of getting sued. With that kind of attitude, its more a question of when you are going to get sued than if. The world is constantly changing, the users of software expect the producers of software to change with it. For further ideas on keeping it lean and delivering fast: Getting Real.

Posted on Saturday, August 9, 2008 11:13 AM Agile | Back to top


Comments on this post: Wash your hands of garbage every few weeks rather than flushing entire applications.

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