Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Learning to build great software

Whenever I build a new piece of software, I'm nearly always torn in two. One half of me, the side that got me to start work in the first place, says things like "this is great! this app will change the world! everyone will want to use it, you just need to get the word out!". The other side, which doesn't appear appear until after I can see a working prototype, is much less optimistic. He says things like "wow, this sucks. No one is ever going to use it. It's essentially useless. You shouldn't waste any more time on it".

As one might imagine, I have a difficult time deciding which half is right, and whether or not pursue a project further. But today I discovered a great tactic to determine; I've learned exactly how to figure out if my software is great or not:

Pick up the phone and call your ideal users.

Yes.  It's that simple.  I don't know how I missed it for so long.  It seems so obvious now.   But until my finances got dire and I was pursuing Sneffel as a business (Rather than just a programming project) full time without other options, I had never thought about it before  I spent today finding distance learning schools who might be interested, calling them up, and trying to sell Sneffel to them.

I must say: it was really depressing work.

But I think I've been able to decide if Sneffel is worth pursuing further or not.  And as much as it saddens me to say, I think it's time to move on to better projects.

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