Friday, October 12, 2007

Jason Fried and 37signals

I trekked to Providence to hear Jason Fried of 37signals speak this week.

Random picture of Jason Fried from somewhere else

I'll quote here:
Getting Real is about skipping all the stuff that represents real (charts, graphs, boxes, arrows, schematics, wireframes, etc.) and actually building the real thing.

Getting real is less. Less mass, less software, less features, less paperwork, less of everything that's not essential (and most of what you think is essential actually isn't).

Getting Real is staying small and being agile.

Getting Real starts with the interface, the real screens that people are going to use. It begins with what the customer actually experiences and builds backwards from there. This lets you get the interface right before you get the software wrong.

Getting Real is about iterations and lowering the cost o
f change. Getting Real is all about launching, tweaking, and constantly improving which makes it a perfect approach for web-based software.

Getting Real delivers just what customers need and eliminates anything they don't.
Lightning summary:
  • I know and agree with his philosophy (maybe from influences of Google, non-tech aspects of my background, friends, my own laziness) -- this is definitely Super-Official Linkspank Philosophy...
  • ... but I still found the talk useful and will probably check out their book (which you can read free online - go smarties). Based on my limited experience I have admiration for the products as well.
Cover design was not important to this book.
  • The limitations and influences of Jason's theory are not well explored. When asked how Google had influenced him, Jason said he didn't know. C'mon! Google was the start of this with its pristine homepage back in '98.
  • Another limitation can be inferred from Google's experience - this method doesn't work well for integrating products. Don't things become more complicated at some point? Isn't the process of managing many simple tools complicated, and isn't there some way technically to help a person do that? (Of course - like any operating system, microsoft office, your Google account.) The more you hammer on this point, the more the general philosophy starts to fall apart and becomes nothing more than "we prefer to focus on building simple products" :-).
The whole thing and especially the last bullet raises a question for Linkspank - which is its scope? How complicated should it be and how wide should its set of features be? Example: people often ask for features that other sites have, especially adding more photos :-).

Short answer: I think Linkspank's feature set can grow, but we still DEFINITELY have work to do around the core idea.