Thursday, March 31, 2005

Getting Real: An unofficial compilation of the app development wisdom of 37signals

37signals has been sporadically releasing articles on their Signal vs. Noise blog (and teaching workshops) based on what they learned while building and selling their products such as Basecamp, Ta-da Lists and Backpack (coming soon).

Because they haven't organized it all in one place (guys!), I'm doing it.

With great pride, I give you ...

The Unofficial 37signals Getting Real Compilation
  • No functional spec
    "So what do we do in place of a functional spec? We write a one page story about what the app should do. If it takes more than a page to explain it, then itís too complex. ... Then we begin building the interface ó the interface is the functional spec. First with some quick and simple paper sketches, then directly into HTML. Unlike paragraphs of text that are open to alternate interpretations, interface designs are common ground."
  • Just say no to Lorem Ipsum
    "The goal here is to get as close to the real customer experience as possible
    . Don't abstract yourself from the real experience. Every layer removed pushes you further and further away from the actual customer experience."
  • Less mass (related: Less is ... more satisfying)
    "Change must be easy is really the most important point. If you canít change, youíll lose. Change needs to be your business. And the best way to make sure you can change when you need to change is to reduce your mass."
  • Clarity vs Simplicity
    "What really matters is clarity. Clarity in visual design. Clarity in copywriting. Clarity in purpose, mission, and statement. Clarity allows someone to 'get it' while simplicity only allows someone to 'see it.'"
  • Client work: Hire the right client
    "Working with the right clients is absolutely critical. The trick is knowing when to say no. The wrong client can kill morale, force good employees out, and cost you big opportunities. Working with the right client isnít work at all ó itís a pleasure."
  • Client work: Pick two - scope, timeframe or budget
    "Promising someone everything they want (fixed price, fixed scope, fixed timeframe) simply isnít realistic if you want to deliver something great."
  • How to make big things happen with small teams (SxSW 2005 Presentation)
I wonder if I can convince them to do a surprise, rip-roaring workshop at Y! HQ?