Getting useful feedback

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 21, 2013, 9:06 PM | comments: 0

One of the most useful lessons of my career in software development has been that the users of your stuff know better than you. Well, they might not know that they want your software in the first place, but once they do, they find ways to use it that you had not intended.

This week, a thread popped up in the suggestions forum of CoasterBuzz that organically evolved into a really good discussion. I've been using that audience as guinea pigs for new ideas for years, and with the current state of the forum, it's pretty easy to try things and get them out quickly. When you change stuff on people, they're not shy about telling you whether or not they like it.

The timing for it is good. The ramp up the contract gig I have has been painfully slow because there is all kinds of domain knowledge that is slow to acquire (and lots of meetings), so my impatience in that gets turned into motivation to work on my own projects, where I feel like I'm accomplishing something. As a result, I've been making steady revisions on the forums, in two hour blocks, every night this week. It's really the first time in years that I've started to think more deeply about the design, and what people click on and how they use it.

That one thread is awesome because it demonstrates that people care enough to chime in. I think I need that reassurance now and then, especially with regard to my open source project. I tend to think of it as something I've built for other developers, but clearly the end users are the people who benefit from it the most.


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