Posts from January 2005.

Lost Focus, Now Regained

I’ve been suffering from a spell of lost focus recently, just haven’t managed to get going on developing my app, and have been having some (continuing) problems in deciding on the app’s initial feature set.

This is probably one of the most common reasons in delaying and possibly even killing a new product, because if you don’t know what the product is trying to achieve, and for whom, you lose focus and start developing features that may be irrelevant and really have no product as you have not properly identified the market.

With Christmas and a faulty video card on my development box introducing some time away from development for the best part of the last month, I’ve had some time to re-think my product’s focus, who I am making the product for and what features they are going to want. However, what I’ve really come to believe over this little hiatus is that I’m wasting way too much time thinking about extended features, when in reality until people start using my software and giving me feedback I don’t really know what the customer wants, I can only think I know, even if I am a customer myself. I’ve said all this before, but this time I’m being ruthless in applying these principles.

So, I’m chucking a lot of my ideas for the future out the window, and am going to concentrate on the few features that I want now, and think others also want now (deduced from posts to forums etc). At the moment I’m the only customer I can talk to, so I’m going to satisfy my needs first, and wait for feedback before spending time on any further features.

As part of this re-focus I’ve designed a much better user interface, having some time away from the project and in particular using a few apps that I really enjoy using has made me realise that I was going down the wrong route, I was complicating the interface when I could really do a lot better with only a handful of controls. I was going to be using tabs to separate different views of the data (remember, this is primarily a reporting/data view tool), but this was a bit clunky and meant the user would need to use at least two clicks to change their view of the data, with a lot of eye movement in hunting down items to select in a newly visible tab. There are better ways to do this, there might be a slight increase in clutter in a particular control but subtle use of colour and visual separators can help the user quickly find the area they are looking for.

Anyway, tonight I’ll be back on the development box and ripping the app apart, I think I have a fair bit of work to do now, but less than I would have if I hadn’t re-focused my view of the apps future, I’ve got my confidence back and am seriously excited about getting down and dirty with the code again.