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Shiny and Useful – A Software Manifesto

Posted by Amy Wilson on October 19, 2009

I was reminded, while reading Kris Dunn’s HR Technology ® Shootout rundown, of the traps that we overachieving developers can fall into when creating software.  Namely:

  • Bestowing technical wizardry … for technical wizardry sake
  • Delivering the perfect solution … for one particular customer
  • Fashioning a shiny new widget … for oohs and ahhs in a demo

Thing is, these aren’t easy to do.  They require talent.  It takes conceptual savvy to craft a technological innovation, analytical skills to persevere through a customer’s requirements, and a keen eye to cultivate a visual masterpiece.  We find ourselves congratulating and rewarding ourselves when we make them happen.

And yet, they are traps.  They are not useful to our customers.  Not in isolation.  Yes, we must engage our users with visual appeal.  Yes, we must exploit the power of technology to help our users make better decisions.  Yes, we absolutely must listen to what our customers want.  And, most importantly, we must make what we are building useful to the people we are building it for.

It ain’t easy.  In fact, I’d say it’s nearly impossible.  The Holy Grail of Software Development, so to speak.  Shiny, innovative and useful. That’s what it’s all about.

What does it take? First, it takes time and patience – a realization that many customers must be consulted and several iterations are required.  Second, it takes a diverse set of talents – technical, functional, user experience – working together and appreciating eachothers’ value.  And, third, it takes a whole lot of luck.

photo credit: filmforum.org

4 Responses to “Shiny and Useful – A Software Manifesto”

  1. Meg Bear said

    Exactly. Making something useful requires that you actually know how people need to use the system, not just what they think they need. That’s why it’s so hard, you can be led astray with early responses.

  2. Great article and all great points – so many companies have a portion of the internal puzzle solved – I wish we can really take it to the next level and do some true innovation though!

  3. Amy Wilson said

    Sarah – I haven’t seen it very often, but when I do, I have to step back and thank my lucky stars 🙂

  4. […] you need something that captures the imagination and attention of the sales team but also delivers actual value.  The more you have of both, the better you will find your long term […]

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