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Opinions matter

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Be opinionated. In software its important. I’d go as far as saying it can completely make or break your app. It’s something that 37signals have been advocating for a long time, and something they practice daily in saying ‘No’. In fact in both Rework and Getting Real it is clearly stated that saying ‘No’ should be the default answer when considering any new feature (including their own!) I couldn’t agree more.

What happens when you don’t say no? It leads directly to feature bloat or in the long-term a big ball of mud. And if your business is beholden to clients who can throw financial weight around, then your’e really in trouble. You can end up second guessing their needs or prospecting new features that will attract them. This can be more true in b2b products where I think it can be much harder for people to say ‘No’ by default.

Apple take sides in a very obvious way. Rather than be all things to all people, they continually make game changing decisions that their competitors probably haven’t even considered. No DVD-drive in the Apple Air, loosing the conventional right-mouse button, more often than not they are constantly removing and simplifying their products. Look at everything thats not built into the iPad, you’ll find a long list of features if you compare against traditional touchpad devices.

All this creates division (and a buzz) amongst fans and critics. But have you ever heard an outcry over the latest updates to Microsoft Office? People just don’t care when an already bloated app tries to be all things to all people (and yes, I’m writing this post in Writeroom)

In building Bugle I have made lots of decisions along the way in code, the interface and even the server stack. Drawing on my own experiences and motivations has helped to keep things simple. Im not doing competitor comparisons or even looking at what people consider normal steps in the processes. I’m just defining the problems a user faces and trying to offer the simplest solution that will meet their needs.

Of course opinions matter in blog posts too, so what do you think, agree or disagree?

April 01, 2010 21:04 by
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