Usage is Like Oxygen for Ideas (in Products)

The founding developer of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, has a great essay titled 1.0 is the Loneliest Number where he recounts similar story to my post mortem on a failed product in which he spent entirely too long adding more and more features to a release before putting it out in wild to get feedback on it. His choice quote, which is echoed by the guys at 37signals, is as follows:

Usage is like oxygen for ideas. You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you’ve created until it’s out there. That means every moment you’re working on something without it being in the public it’s actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world.

My recommendation is to read Matt’s essay and to create a culture of minimum viable functionality for new features so that customers can provide feedback right away. Too often, the engineering mentality is that of a perfectionist leading to more and more functionality piled onto a feature to get it just right. Only, just right for one engineer isn’t the same as just right for 80% of a product’s user base. Don’t let your product ideas suffocate.

12 thoughts on “Usage is Like Oxygen for Ideas (in Products)

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  7. As I am trying to get a book published, it is necessary for me to now learn about the business side of things. More and more it seems the number one way of making any money at anything seems to be constant exposure to the real world, be it good or bad in it’s feedback.

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