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First Notes on "Getting Real," a book by web app company 37signals

Once you iterate quickly and react on customer feedback, you will establish a customer connection. Remember the goal is to win the customer by building what they want.

—Sanaz Ahari, Program Manager of Start.com, Microsoft

(I can't believe I started with a quote from someone at Microsoft, but it's a good one.)

From "Caveats, Disclaimers..."

Build software for yourself

As the designer or developer of a new application, you're faced with hundreds of micro-decisions each and every day: blue or green? One table or two? Static or dynamic? Abort or recover? How do we make these decisions? If it's something we recognize as being important, we might ask. The rest, we guess. And all that guessing builds up a kind of debt in our applications — an interconnected web of assumptions.

As a developer, I hate this. The knowledge of all these small-scale timebombs in the applications I write adds to my stress. Open Source developers, scratching their own itches, don't suffer this. Because they are their own users, they know the correct answers to 90% of the decisions they have to make. I think this is one of the reasons folks come home after a hard day of coding and then work on open source: It's relaxing.

—Dave Thomas, The Pragmatic Programmers, http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/

From "What's Your Problem"

Launch on time and on budget

just scale back the scope.

From "Fix Time and Budget, Flex Scope"

Define yourself in opposition to an existing product or service

(That's my paraphrase of the gist of this essay. Their quotation, below, makes it clearer.)

Don't follow the leader

Marketers (and all human beings) are well trained to follow the leader. The natural instinct is to figure out what's working for the competition and then try to outdo it — to be cheaper than your competitor who competes on price, or faster than the competitor who competes on speed. The problem is that once a consumer has bought someone else's story and believes that lie, persuading the consumer to switch is the same as persuading him to admit he was wrong. And people hate admitting that they're wrong.

Instead, you must tell a different story and persuade listeners that your story is more important than the story they currently believe. If your competition is faster, you must be cheaper. If they sell the story of health, you must sell the story of convenience. Not just the positioning x/y axis sort of "We are cheaper" claim, but a real story that is completely different from the story that's already being told.

Seth Godin, author/entrepreneur (from Be a Better Liar)

From "Have an Enemy"

It Shouldn't be a Chore

Your passion — or lack of — will shine through.

The less your app is a chore to build, the better it will be. Keep it small and managable so you can actually enjoy the process.

From "It Shouldn't be a Chore"

Stay small and ready to do things a new way

(My paraphrase again. Back to straight lifting:)

Nimble, agile, less-mass businesses can quickly change their entire business model, product, feature set, and marketing message. They can make mistakes and fix them quickly. They can change their priorities, product mix, and focus. And, most importantly, they can change their minds.

From "Less Mass"

Emergence

A classic example of emergence lies in the flocking behavior of birds. A computer simulation can use as few as three simple rules (along the lines of "don't run into each other") and suddenly you get very complex behavior as the flock wends and wafts its way gracefully through the sky, reforming around obstacles, and so on. None of this advanced behavior (such as reforming the same shape around an obstacle) is specified by the rules; it emerges from the dynamics of the system.

Simple rules, as with the birds simulation, lead to complex behavior. Complex rules, as with the tax law in most countries, lead to stupid behavior.

Keep it small. Keep it simple. Let it happen.

—Andrew Hunt, The Pragmatic Programmers

From "Lower Your Cost of Change"

Use a team of three for version 1.0

For the first version of your app, start with only three people. That's the magic number that will give you enough manpower yet allow you to stay streamlined and agile. Start with a developer, a designer, and a sweeper (someone who can roam between both worlds).

If we do this right, that's me as the developer, Craig as the designer, and Dan as the sweeper.

The Three Musketeers

Continued: More notes on Getting Real

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