Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Start With No

Through our work on Uncharted, I've been introduced to the 37 Signals group's book Getting Real, a guide the group behind Basecamp, Campfire and the Ruby to Rails markup language markets to software developers. Though I'm not a software developer, I am interested in website development, and find that a lot of the things they bring out in their book apply to websites as well as software.

One of the most intriguing things they bring up is their "Start With No" concept, explained in full here. Here's what they have to say in part:

The secret to building half a product instead of a half-ass product is saying no.

Each time you say yes to a feature, you're adopting a child. You have to take your baby through a whole chain of events (e.g. design, implementation, testing, etc.). And once that feature's out there, you're stuck with it. Just try to take a released feature away from customers and see how pissed off they get.

Their reasoning is that adding every feature, every page, every this and every that which your customer asks for through usability studies can often lead to sites and software and publications getting unmanageable.

In my publications management class, one student brought up the website for students in tne tech writing masters program, complaining that it's hard to find pertient information among all the other stuff that's been added to the site. This is, I believe, evidence of someone who can't say no to their users. You'd think that class registration and getting to Blackboard would be important functions, but they're buried in all the other folderol on the page. But all that's been added is due to someone -- often just a someone, not a group someone -- asking for the addition. Sometimes the best thing that can come out of a usability study is the recognition that you can say no to your users.

No comments: