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If You Don’t Love It Don’t Release It!

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One of the things that really bugs me is seeing software that not even its mother, the software designer, loves.

We see it all the time with ugly screens, broken functionality, 16-bit icons, stolen icons, icons that come with the IDE etc. ad nauseam. Why? Because the developer gets a “hot idea,” plugs away and then releases to the world, throws it onto download sites, maybe does some SEO with Google et al.

Said software rarely gets updated, bug fixed, or bought and is frequently dismissed if not despised. Heck, it even gets small software companies a bad rep amongst B2B and even consumers.

Love Your Software

Who ever thought up the idea of selling programming languages to Joe and Jill Sixpack? Webs ites or shrink-wrapped products with “Even you can program” ought to be taken out back and shot, or at least hauled up under local laws for false advertising. We see this all the time on the software forums. Folks wanting an “idea” to write the “next killer program,” or how to find an idea for the “next killer program,” — oh, and they want to be able to do it all in two weeks!!

This is how some unloved software is released. Money is the only motivator, no interest in the product, customer or future. Product is abandoned.

Another instance is where a hobbyist with domain knowledge writes a product and releases, initially loving the *idea* of such a program (and the kudos that come with it), but are technically inept and lack design skills. The idea is loved here but not the program. Product is abandoned.

In other instances the programmer is technically competent, loves programming, has domain knowledge and loves the idea. However the actual program is not loved, as evidenced by look and feel. Products frequently abandoned.

It’s interesting to see that the products that are clearly loved by their “mothers” survive and prosper. Some of them are pretty basic as far as depth of functionality goes, yet have loyal customers and benefit from frequent updates.

It’s not enough to be technically competent to love a product (we’re talking products for resale here, not tools or basic utilities). A car does not need paint to run, it can be rusty and look awful but run just fine and do what it is supposed to do, get you from A to B. However, would you love such a car? Nope. You’d hate a car to look like this, no matter how functional. A shiny, nicely painted car, for most people, is something to love.

Software is no different.

Build your product so that it is technically competent. That’s essential and bears no dissention. Certainly release early, I believe in that fully, but love the product. Be meticulous with the graphics and layout. Icons should be modern, there is no excuse for this. They can be bought pretty cheaply too. See here for some great designs, and there are others.

Take some time out, if you are a Windows or *nix developer, to look at some Mac products. Mac developers get this idea. In the best products, the icons on toolbars are color coordinated. They take the time to do it right, showing they love the program, and their customers, Mac users, demand nothing less. When delivered, they have some of the most loyal customers you could find.

Keep in mind at all times that if you love your products and it shows you love them through attention to detail — not just code but look and feel — it’s more likely your customers will love them too.

So do you *really* love your product?

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