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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Creating passionate users

There are quite a few blogs that I read regularly. Many of them provide insight into some of the great things that are happening in the software arena and the great minds that are making those things happen. One such blog is "Signal vs. Noise" written by the folks over at 37signals. The entry that I came across today is an interview with Jason Freid from 37signals. There he talked about how their company is switching to a product based company offering various online software services. But what interested me the most was when the question came up asking what blogs he likes to read...

8. Besides WorkHappy.net *cough* and SvN what blogs should every entrepreneur be reading?

Why thank you! The only entrepreneurial blog I read frequently is: Creating Passionate Users Everyone should read this every day. She's so right on the money.

So I went to check out her blog. I haven't delved into all of the postings yet but it's one of those rare occasions where you read the musings of someone and feel great that someone else "gets it". That you're not alone in your thinking that things should be "as simple as possible but no simpler". The blog's author is Kathy Sierra, the creator of javaranch.com which many newcomers to java frequent. She seems to tackle a lot of the "unspoken" or less technical aspects of technology, like writing style, UI design, and usability.

On the subject of writing like you talk she had this to say:
"Your sixth grade English teacher warned you against writing the way you talk, but she was wrong. Partly wrong, anyway. Then again, we aren't talking about writing the way you talked when you were 12. Or even the way you talk when you're rambling. What most people mean when they say "write the way you talk" is something like, "the way you talk when you're explaining something to a friend, filtering out the 'um', 'you know', and 'er' parts, and editing for the way you wish you'd said it."

She also tackles the issue of marketing. Marketing has long been dumped on by the likes of engineers, I have been guilty of that in my younger days as an engineer. But she points out what I've already come to realize is that we're all in marketing no matter what we do. I guess it helps that my girlfriend does marketing for a living so it's allowed me to understand that part of business to a much greater degree.

"If you're interested in creating passionate users, or keeping your job, or breathing life into a startup, or getting others to contribute to your open source project, or getting your significant other to agree to the vacation you want to go on... congratulations. You're in marketing."

Trying to get engineering teams to work with one another, someone to use your API, or read your blog requires marketing at some level. Thanks Kathy for the great insight into the finer points of why we bother to create this stuff called software.

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