Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to set the blinking clock on a VCR

Software developers - You have a problem. Having had my hand in product development (as a non-developer) while at RoboForm , ToneThis , Avant Browser I learned something about software developers. Most of them think in different terms than us (the consumer). This IMO is one of the biggest mistakes that startups make early on - no non techies involved with the product.

This became clearer to me yesterday in not one, but two software install experiences. My friend Steven Groves was over my house watching the Cardinals get slammed yesterday, and we were exchanging recommended apps for our Android phones. At some point, Steven recommended 'Bump' as a method to exchange business cards. While I do think Bump will be an excellent solution, I found it's productecture to be horrible. At some point in the installation, I accidently 'told it' that I was someone else (I tapped on one of my contacts when trying to teach it my profile). This is actually VERY easy to do when you are using a haptic keyboard. Further, Bump decided that it likes a gmail email address & profile better than anything else that you have. Final outcome? It took me a half-hour (as well as a total uninstall/re-install of Bump) to teach Bump who I am. Still have not been able to teach Bump that I do not want to use my Google (GMAIL) profile - but at least I won $5 from Steven when I bet him he could not correct that.

The second piece of software was MindMap. MindMap was given to me (It's not an inexpensive piece of software) by someone whom I had done some bizdev with years ago, who works with the company. I have always been impressed with the very cool looking Mind Maps created with it, and had been pumped to make my own maps. Regretfully, after several tries I just could not figure it out. While it seemed to me that the intuitive way to create a new 'box' within MindMaps would be to simply right mouse click (apparently Mac users don't do this), MindMap takes no advantage of context menus, and instead uses keyboard keys such as 'Insert' that I never even knew existed (again pointed out by my friend Steven).

Moral of the story here? Consider having real human beings along for the ride during your development process - not just software engineers. Consider also having a video (ie Youtube) of your product being used. Video is the new product manual.

You can discuss this with me further on Twitter here.
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