ETech – Joel on Software

Joel Spolsky, Why does the iPod have 90% market share?
Presented a model he came up that differentiates products like the iPod or Herman Miller Aeron chair from other less successful.

  • Make people happy
  • Think about emotions
  • Obsess over aesthetics

How to make people happy? Allow them to be in control of their environment. Think about Windows. Users hate when Windows makes you install a detected update. Why? Because they don’t feel in control.

Think about emotions. Why do people feel safer in a sports utility vehicle? You feel more secure when you’re high.

Aesthetics are ridiculously important. Take the iPod versus Creative. It’s style versus features/cost. Style matters to people. Developers sometimes avoid having to think about style. Remember Winamp? It allowed users to create new skins to replace the default UI. That way, the developers didn’t have to think about getting style right. What Joel was saying is that developers shouldn’t think they are immune to aesthetics. Look at OS X–all kinds of drop shadows, colors, glitzy animations. People like decorations.

If there’s one thing Joel wanted us to remember from the presentation was the concept of misattribution (or misinterpreting reactions). People will misattribute opinions due to heir feelings. If you make them feel happy, people will come away thinking positive about your product.

Joel got the biggest applause of any speaker yet at the conference. He’s a good performer.


2 Comments on “ETech – Joel on Software”

  1. joe says:

    This sounds like the same talk he gave at Amazon recently. He’s a captivating lecturer!
    Thanks for all the liveblogging.

  2. Jon says:

    Wow if you did not know this BASIC concept you should not be developing code.
    I love hardcore C coders who think looks dont matter, you usually find those guys in caves.