Written By Chris Nation

Getting Real - A Book Review

August 02, 2011 | business

A good book can go a long way in entertaining, educating or creating change. This is the first, in what I hope to be a recurring series, featuring notable literature in the technology and interactive industries. Getting Real by 37signals, is an informative yet groundbreaking approach to developing web applications. The core of the book points at the heart of the strategy and development phases of web applications. 

Any software company that has ever attempted to create applications knows the drill: research, meetings, vision, sketches, interface design, HTML, programming, beta-tests, launch, version numbers, revisions, updates, errors, patches, marketing, and support. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well according to Getting Real, it is. Their whole approach is to simplify the development process. In their words, “Less mass, less software, less features, less paperwork, less of everything that’s not essential” is crucial to the entire process. 

Getting Real takes you through what every developer, interface designer, and project manager in software has experienced. Those being the frustration, the features, the client requests,  and the documentation. 37signals hits at the foundation of good applications- your vision, your team, your design, and your development.  Instead of trying to outdo your competition, they recommend “underdoing your competition.” Instead of trying to incorporate every feature you believe to be necessary to meet all your clients needs, every option for user experience, and every preference for greater specificity- they say “no!” 

  • “Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features"      ~ Derek Sivers, president and programmer of CD Baby

The books writing is direct and clear. From past experiences and learnable mistakes, 37signals has created an approach that any developer or interactive agency should take note of.  The authors mention development in actionable terms. Basically, get the application launched and live for users to test, use and provide feedback. If you worry about every aspect being perfect, you will spend more money, resources, time, and staff trying to make it spotless, which generates into delayed launched dates and postponed programming. 

  • With real, running software everyone gets closer to true understanding and agreement. You avoid heated  arguments over sketches and paragraphs that wind up turning out not to matter anyway. You realize that  parts you thought were trivial are actually quite crucial.” ~ 37signals

Without revealing all of their approaches, insightful advice and clever philosophies, I hope this creates a spark to learn more about their processes. In our generation, software is a dime-a-dozen, from project management, resource planning, financial management, human resources, or networking, everyone believes they have the newest, greatest, simplest piece of coded software.  But is it?

At Hitcents, we believe in hitting at the heart of user interface design, user experience and innovation. Our software developers understand the crucial aspects of software. If it does not benefit your customer, your client or your vendor, it is useless. 


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