Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to be number one: Make people happy, Make it pretty, Make it cool

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are just a few of our "inalienable rights”, but if you are anything like me then you probably focus the majority of your time on pursuing happiness while letting your elected officials manage your liberties and your subconsciousness manage keeping you alive. If you are an entrepreneur or master of marketing then you might have come to realize that the success of your product may be directly related to the happiness that it subconsciously brings to your users. No matter how far we have evolved, we are still but simple creatures.

Today Joel Spolsky released a video of his talk at the 2008 Business of Software conference, in which he discusses what it takes to become a market leader. He recognizes that it takes more than simple technical superiority to become number one, which is an issue that has baffled me many times. I personally dislike the iPhone, but I do have to admit that Apple does a very good job at paying attention to all the little details that make the overall use of a device more appealing to their users (thereby Apple-ing the user :-P). By spending extra time on the aethstetics and appearance of a device and building an aura “coolness” that the community associates with them Apple is able to consistently deliver products that become market leaders even if there are other devices with more power for less price. The video of the talk is about 46 minutes and is a great example of how to keep people interested during a long presentation:



The 2009 Business of Software conference is coming up on November 9th and I really wish that I could go if only to see Don Norman’s talk. He wrote The Design of Everyday Things, which is an excellent book about the functional and visual importance of design that I would highly recommend to anyone designing a building, writing software, or trying to create the next cool gizmo. Reading a book that was written in 1988 but still very applicable in the age of Web 2.0 gave me a new respect for the design process. He also has other books on the topic of design, and I would love to hear his advice applied directly to the design of software.

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