Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Software People Will Use

I recently listened to a talk by Joel Spolsky ( on making software that is number one in the industry and it inspired me to write a bit about it. He talks about 3 key points behind this, but the ones I want to focus on are making the user happy and obsessing about aesthetics. I think these are keys to any good piece of software, not just the industry leaders, although we should all strive to be there, especially if we are in the business of making money.

I'll start with obsessing over aesthetics. As developers (he discusses this in his talk, but most developers probably know this), we don't spend a lot of time thinking about aesthetics. We're concerned with making sure the software works, and if it works, that is what's important. True, this is important, but there's a lot more than just making it work. The first thing the end user sees are the aesthetics. If the software doesn't look nice, it will be off-putting. Remember, most users aren't programmers! The users are our customers, and we need to make a product that will appeal to them.

That leads me to the point of making the user happy. There are various ways to make the user happy. Spolsky talks about putting the user in control of the software. Make it easy to use, but let the user feel like they are controlling what happens. It shouldn't take a programmer to use it. I like to think software should be simple, yet sophisticated.

I recommend watching this talk, but if you don't, the key takeaway I took from it was that the software is all about the user. While we should already all know, this talk was a nice reinforcement.

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