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site90.com September 24, 2008

Filed under: is ebiz — hikaru011 @ 11:00 am
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Chapter 6 September 22, 2008

Filed under: Getting Real — hikaru011 @ 9:39 am
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Race to Running Software

Running a software is said to be the best way to build momentum. The very first day, ideas should be formalized. You can even skip details, do less and even take short cuts as long as it can runs the software faster. “Running a software is real.”

The Real Thing Leads to Agreement

When a group of different people set out to try and find out what is harmonious…their opinions about it will tend to converge if they are mocking up full-scale, real stuff. Of course, if they’re making sketches or throwing out ideas, they won’t agree. But, if you start making the real thing, one tends to reach agreement.

Christopher Alexander, Professor of Architecture


Rinse and Repeat

You don’t need to aim for perfection on the first try because you know that you will do it again later. Learn from feedback and comments and then start perfecting your work.

From idea to implementation

In any projects, you definitely start with ideas. You think of a subject or topic. You let details flow into your mind. Together with your team, you are brainstorming.

When these ideas are being planned like how will you do t, when, where, etc. That is the time that you are sketching your ideas or you are now starting to plan it.

When creating a HTML screens, you should get something real posted so that anyone can see what it looks like on screen.

The coding part is where you code your ideas.

During this whole process remember to stay flexible and expect multiple iterations. You should feel free to throw away the deliverable of any particular step and start again if it turns out crappy. It’s natural to go through this cycle multiple times.


Avoid Preferences

Preferences are also evil because they create more software. More options require more code. And there’s all the extra testing and designing you need to do too. You’ll also wind up with preference permutations and interface screens that you never even see. That means bugs that you don’t know about: broken layouts, busted tables, strange pagination issues, etc.

We may think that customers see preferences as a blessing but the truth is, for a customer, having a lot of option are a headache. Be direct and straight. Just make a decision.

“Done!”

Done means you have completed something. It means something has already been accomplished. They said that think of it as a magical word. Yes, maybe because now your work is fully completed. It does not necessarily mean that you make all your decisions and work right. For now it may work but as soon as you realized that there is something wrong, you can actually go back and revise it.

Accept that decisions are temporary. Accept that mistakes will happen and realize it’s no big deal as long as you can correct them quickly. Execute, build momentum, and move on.

Test in the wild

There’s no substitute for real people using your app in real ways. Get real data. Get real feedback. Then improve based on that info.

Shrink your time

In doing your job, try to shrink or break down time frames into smaller chunks. Keep dividing it into smaller and smaller details and until you can handle it well.

 

Chapter 5 September 21, 2008

Filed under: Getting Real — hikaru011 @ 9:32 am
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Half, Not Half-Assed

Stick to what is really essential. Trim features down and basically you will come up with the most essential parts.

Start off with a lean, smart app and let it gain traction. Then you can start to add to the solid foundation you’ve built.

It Just Doesn’t Matter

Most of the time you spend is wasted on things that just don’t matter. If you can cut out the work and thinking that just don’t matter, you’ll achieve productivity you’ve never imagined.

Start With No

“We Don’t Want a Thousand Features”

Steve Jobs gave a small private presentation about the iTunes Music Store to some independent record label people. My favorite line of the day was when people kept raising their hand saying, “Does it do [x]?”, “Do you plan to add [y]?”. Finally Jobs said, “Wait wait — put your hands down. Listen: I know you have a thousand ideas for all the cool features iTunes could have. So do we. But we don’t want a thousand features. That would be ugly. Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features.”

—-Derek Sivers, president and programmer, CD Baby and HostBaby
(from Say NO by default)

Hidden Costs

Expose the price of new features

Although the cost already passed the “no” stage, still you need to expose its hidden cost.

Can You Handle It?

Build something you can manage

In any business, it is important that everything you produced must be managed well.

Bottom line: Build products and offer services you can manage. It’s easy to make promises. It’s much harder to keep them. Make sure whatever it is that you’re doing is something you can actually sustain — organizationally, strategically, and financially.

Human Solutions

Make your software general so everyone can find their own solution. Give people just enough to solve their own problems their own way. People figured out how to solve issues on their own.

Do the best job you can with the root of the problem then step aside. People will find their own solutions and conventions within your general framework.

Forget Feature Requests

In forums, we often see customer’s requests like they think that a certain product can improve if they include this and that. But remember that the first response is “no”. Keep in mind that you have a vision and you must stick with it. Basically if a customer request is really essential, sooner or later it will bubble up and you can definitely know if it is really important.

Hold the Mayo

Ask people what they don’t want

Innovation Comes From Saying No

[Innovation] comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.

—Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple (from The Seed of Apple’s Innovation)

 

Chapter 4

Filed under: Getting Real — hikaru011 @ 8:47 am
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What’s the big idea?

The vision will guide your decisions and keep you on a consistent path. A vision should be brief and concise. One sentence would be enough but it should be direct to the point. Before you start designing or coding anything you need to know the purpose of your product, the vision.

Make Mantra

Organizations need guideposts. They need an outline; employees need to know each day when they wake up why they’re going to work. This outline should be short and sweet, and all encompassing: Why do you exist? What motivates you? I call this a mantra — a three or four-word description of why you exist.

Guy Kawasaki, author (from Make Mantra)

Ignore Details Early On

Success isn’t the only thing you’ll find in the details. You’ll also find stagnation, disagreement, meetings, and delays. These things can lower the chances of your success.

Try not to focus on details too early in the process. There’s plenty of time to be a perfectionist. You can do it later. You need to begin first to fix the functionality. Make sure it works. The design part can wait.

Details reveal themselves as you use what you’re building. You’ll see what needs more attention. You’ll feel what’s missing. You’ll know which potholes to pave over because you’ll keep hitting them. That’s when you need to pay attention, not sooner.

It’s a Problem When It’s a Problem

Don’t waste time on problems you don’t have yet

For example, do not worry if you lack programmers. If you think that you need 10 programmers but the truth is your 3 programmers are quite enough since you just started. Just don’t search problems in your company’s future life, just focus on its life today.

Bottom Line: Make decisions just in time, when you have access to the real information you need. In the meanwhile, you’ll be able to lavish attention on the things that require immediate care.

Hire the Right Customers

In any business, you need to have your target market. We often hear the saying that “ the customers are always right” but the truth is that the customer is not always right. The truth is you have to sort out who’s right and who’s wrong for your app.

If you try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone

Scale Later

The bigger problem isn’t scaling, it’s getting to the point where you have to scale.

Majority of web apps are never going to reach that stage, where millions of people are using it. If that time comes, well you will have time to adjust and respond to the problem.

Create a great app and then worry about what to do once it’s wildly successful

Make Opinionated Software

“Software should be agnostic”. Software should be flexible. But it is said that the best software has a vision. When someone uses software, they are not just looking for features, they looking for an approach. And if they don’t like your software, there is plenty of software that can suit their taste. Just do remember that you should stick with your vision.

Don’t go chasing people you’ll never make happy.

 

Chapter 3 September 14, 2008

Filed under: Getting Real — hikaru011 @ 7:02 am
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The leaner you are, the easier it is to change.

Small companies have advantages over huge companies. Some small companies think of this as a disadvantage but the truth is, having a small company and lean mass is more efficient than having a big company and more mass. Small company can talk to their clients or customers more personal than huge companies that require formality when communicating with clients. Small company should be more friendly and personal so that they could differentiate themselves from big companies.

Being small, there are constraints and limitations, but let these be a guide or challenge. Small companies often have less people but this is not really considered as a main problem. As long as you have the right team it isn’t be a threat for your company.

 

Chapter 2 September 10, 2008

Filed under: Getting Real — hikaru011 @ 8:57 am
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Build less

It is said that to beat your competitors you need to one-up them. This one-upping state of mind is a dead-end. A defensive company can only think behind and not think ahead. They just follow.

To beat a competitor, do less. Try solving simple problems and leave the huge problems to others. Try downing instead of one-upping.

What’s Your Problem?

A great way to build software is to start solving your own problems.

When you are solving your problems, you create tools that you are passionate about. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it.

Fund Yourself

The first priority of many startups is acquiring funding from investors.

Outside Money is Plan B

But do remember that if you get your funds from outsiders you’ll have to pay them back and so expectations are raised.

I read about what Jake Walker, has started one company with investor money (Disclive) and one without (The Show), said as he discusses differences between two paths.

“The root of all the problems wasn’t raising money itself, but everything that came along with it. The expectations are simply higher. People start taking salary, and motivation is to build it up sell it, or find some other way for the initial investors to make their money back. In the case of the first company, we simply started acting much bigger than we were – out of necessity… “

Fix Time and Budget, Flex Scope

A way to launch on time and on budget is to keep them fixed. Never throw more time or more money at a problem, just scale back the scope.

If you can fit everything in within the time and budget allotted then don’t expand the time and budget.

Benefits of fixing time and budget:

  • Prioritization
  • Reality
  • Flexibility

Have an Enemy

Projects turn out better when everyone takes collective ownership of the process.

But do remember that it is important not get too obsessed with the competition. Overanalyzed other products and you’ll start to limit the way you think.

Its shouldn’t be a Chore

it should be your passion.

Enthusiasm manifests itself readily of course, but indifference is equally indelible. If your commitment doesn’t encompass a genuine passion for the work at hand, it becomes a void that is almost impossible to conceal, no matter how elaborately or attractively designed it is.

—Khoi Vinh

 

Chapter 1

Filed under: Getting Real — hikaru011 @ 8:13 am
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Getting Real

According to http://gettingreal.37signals.com/toc.php, Getting real is a smaller, faster, better way to build software. It is about skipping all the stuff that represent real and actually building the real thing. It’s cheaper. It is less in a way that less of everything that is not essential.

Getting real starts with the interface, the real screen that people are going to use. This lets us get the interface right before you get the software wrong. Basically it start backwards.

All in all, getting real delivers what the customers really need and eliminates anything that they don’t.

37 signals

37 signals is a small team that creates simple, focused software.

Basically 37 signals  build products that work smarter, feel better, allow you do things your way and it is easier to use.

Caveats, disclaimers, and other preemptive strikes

Getting Real, every now and then receive complaints. Here are responses to some complaints:

Getting Real is a system that’s worked terrifically for us. Many of these concepts have been around in one form or another for a long time. If you’re company runs on long term schedules with big team, there are still ways to get real. The first step is to have smaller units.