Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for No to Ego

While we're on a motivational thread, here is, to my mind, a big no-no when it comes to business software ... the developer's ego.

It often seems to me that the only possible reason for some software features is to show off how darned clever the programmer is. I don't have any proof of this, it just seems that way.

OK, maybe a hint of proof in the way so many new features are touted on the basis of how cool they are, rather than any real benefit to the end user.

OK, mea culpa, I used to think that way too

As a hobbyist, it was absolutely the done thing to embellish games with gimmicks that would wow geeky onlookers. After all, why go for a simple drop down list when you could make a Town Crier character walk onto the screen and, with a theatrical flourish, unroll the list of options on a scroll?

While this kind of thing might cause a moment of entertainment first time around, believe me the novelty soon wears off when you are using the software day after day, and your focus is on completing a stack of work to a deadline.

Under those conditions, "cute" and "cool" quickly become grounds for keyboard-through-screen syndrome.


  1. Very true, soon becomes annoying to have too many gimmicks.

    Moody Writing

  2. The last great idea I'd discovered years ago while playing games was the automatic saving checkpoints (or at least the reminders to save).

    It never occurred to me to save my game when playing Legend of Kyrandia. It never occurred to me to draw maps, either. That was, until I kept dying in the caves because I'd run out of fire berries.

    Cool things like auto save and things you know the users will thank jesus for when they discover them are gifts, like when my power went out while creating a new document I'd been working on for some time. I knew for certain I wouldn't be able to find the document as I'd never saved it after creation. Sure enough, when I opened my wordprocessor, there it was as a recovered untitled document. Amazing.

    I used to have to painfully present my stuff in a design review with other software developers. The difficult thing was having to get through all the "but it would be cool if you did..." when everything I'd done to that point was to specification, nothing more, nothing less.

  3. Mood, gimmicks - cheap or otherwise - annoy me too, in case you couldn't tell :)

    Diane, auto-save would be another example I could have mentioned in my post about Kindness. I also talk about something similar in an upcoming post. You have a knack for anticipating themes I've got planned :)

  4. I kind of appreciate gimmicks in games. Like in World of Warcraft they had a Harris Pilton goblin. That was funny.

  5. I so appreciate clean (not gimmicky), user-friendly software...and yes, cool things like auto-save.

  6. Michael, gimmicks like that, especially in games, sound like genuine fun and enhance the game. The problem starts when they get in the way of work and you are under pressure to get something done.

    Jagoda, some cool features are also good and helpful features. I think the difference lies in the motivation behind adding the feature in - is the developer truly doing it for the user, or for his/her own ego?

  7. I I enjoy a good, well thought out gimmick. Not something annoying. I would make a horrible developer. I'd just put my name in everything....


    Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi


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