Thursday, February 14, 2002

Ugly advice Joel Spolsky, who I usually think a lot of, has written a cycnical and damaging account of how to deal with clients during a software project. While I agree managers can be inept, and clients can have no clue as to what they're doing, the mission of a consultant is to help their clients be more successful. In the case of software development, this means doing whatever it takes to produce a product that their customers can use and drives the clients' business forward. This may mean bringing customers into the design cycle, managing expectations, and being jerked around, but the solution is not to pander to corporate myopia and produce software that helps neither the business nor its customers. Do demos and screenshots seduce people? Sure. But at the end of the day, somebody's business is going to rely on what you produce and I beleive it is unethical to knowingly create a product that doesn't improve the life of the end customer (if you don't know how you're merely incompetant).

Razorfish, Scient, Viant and all their ilk did business the Spolsky way, focusing on flashy demos and misleading screenshots that turned the web into a nightmare of sites that were slow, hard to navigate, and benefited neither customers nor businesses. Creative Good has been harping on about this for years.

If you want to find the real iceberg in the technology world, it's that the 1% of people who create technology are utterly clueless at figuring out what 99% of people actually want. The technology world is a wasteland of pointlessly hard to use products that don't benefit anyone and were expensive to produce. Joel might be OK with this--I'm not.


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