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Work on Stuff that Matters

I was going to simply ReTweet this but I wanted to add a couple of thoughts and they wouldn't have fit in 140 characters.

Here's the tweet by @timoreilly: "New blog post: Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles http://"

The article resonated with me, I highly recommend it. If I were to state my "big hairy audacious goal" for Mockups it would be

"to make the World a better place by helping people build better software"

Clearly it's not on the same league as what a or The Gates Foundation might do, but for a tiny startup like mine I'd say it's a pretty big goal, and audacious enough. I certainly feel passionately about it.

Tim's first point is to "Work on Something That Matters to You More than Money". The quality/usability of a GUI has a tremendous impact on people's mood: words like "frustrating", "horrible" and "annoying" are fairly common when describing software, and if you were ever forced to use an enterprise HR or Payroll system you know how maddening bad software can be. On the other hand, excellent software elicits powerful feelings as well. I simply LOVE the ease of use of DropBox, Posterous, GMail and yes, Mockups too. Using them makes me feel creative, confident and powerful. I believe that if all software was well made, people would lead happier lives. Life is too short for bad software. If I had a small role in helping people design better software, which in turn made its users happier and more productive...well that matters to me a lot more than money.

As for Tim's second point "Create More Value Than You Capture", I think we're doing OK there as well. Clearly Mockups saves people time (or they wouldn't be buying it so much), and we give more and more licenses away every day (Mariah woke up to 81 license request emails just yesterday). This sentence also resonated with me: "Look around you: How many people do you employ in fulfilling jobs? How many customers use your products to make their own living? How many competitors have you enabled? How many people have you touched that gave you nothing back?". It sure helps me put things in perspective and feel better about the copy-cats that are popping up...hey if they also help people make better software, I guess we all win in the end! 🙂

As for point three, "Take the Long View", that's something I have known from the start (a lesson I learned from working on essentially the same product for over 6 years at Adobe). It takes time for software to mature, you just have to stick to it and improve it a little every day. This doesn't mean it has to be improved forever for the sake of it (I HATE bloatware), but there's lots of other aspects which could make the software more useful which also need work, like the community-contributed website for common UI patterns that we're working on. Good software lives for a long time, so you'd better be prepared for it (and be excited about the prospect!) when you start it.

  • Read Tim O'Reilly's latest blog entry here: Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles
  • Watch this talk he gave last September (relevant topics start at around minute 8):
  • Follow @timoreilly on Twitter - his retweets are where I get most of my high-quality news these days.
  • Also relevant, watch this short video of Guy Kawasaki talking about "Making Meaning":
Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

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Comments (3)

  1. I would recommend anyone subscribe to _your_ blog, be they entrepreneurs, software developers or designers 🙂
    Enjoying every post and wishing you well

  2. Pingback: Knowtu » links for 2009-01-11

  3. It’s hearth warming and inspiring, I do not have any other words to describe it.