23 August 2006

My Dream App

So a new website has launched that intends to use the "wisdom of crowds" to identify the best ideas for a new "dream" Mac application. The registered users get to vote on all the ideas to narrow down the field, then judges will decided on 3 winning ideas. The net result will be 3 new Mac applications that will prove the, ahem, wisdom (or lack thereof) of those participating. I think it will flop. I hope it's wildly successful.

Great ideas are NOT the limiting factor in software development! It's so much more about execution! Further, the driving forces behind great execution are much more multifaceted than a simple paper specification about how some application should behave. My favorite part of this process is:

Customer: Please build X.
Developer: Okay.
(Time passes)
Developer: Here is X!
Customer: I know what I want, and X isn't it.

It's everything that happens after this conversation that's important, not before. I liked what Daniel Jalkut says:

This contest will do nothing except put a heavy burden on a small development team to turn somebody else’s ideas into the type of application that can usually only be inspired by the developer’s own dreams. Even when a team pursues a dream - their dream - success is far from assured.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a large part of what the field of Human-Computer Interaction is about: The user never says what they want.

There are many user-based research techniques one can use to figure out what would actually be useful to the user, but what they say they want should never be taken at face value.