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Ship early, ship often, but ship to the right people

There’s a bit of a buzz right now (well, two people who I read, but others, too, right behind them) around web-based calendars. However, while there’s a lot of enthusiasm both Lloyd and Joel are unhappy with them. Both cite small features missing which prevent them using them. For Lloyd it’s the stubborn US-centric date format, for Joel its their inability to mark in his flights among other things.

Joel makes an interesting comment:

Listen, I know that everybody is saying that the cool thing to do these days is Ship Early and Often, but when you ship half-baked ajax calendars that don’t do much and then get Scoble to go nuts about how great they are, well, you’re going to have a lot of people like me checking it out and realizing that, for example, no thought whatsoever has gone into printing, which is fine, it’s a 1.0 release, but you know what? I’m not going to look at 30 Boxes again — I’ve spent enough time evaluating it. G’bye.

Well, they do say ship early and ship often, but it’s important to remember why they say that. It’s not for the sake of it. It’s not to garner publicity (premature publicity being what Joel calls the Marimba phenomenon). It’s to get some real people using it early so you can shake out the wrinkles. And when you’ve shaken out the wrinkles you expand your user group and find more wrinkles and shake them out. And so on. And before you know it you’ve got a world-beating product which everyone loves.

This is one of the themes developed by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado.

So it’s crucial to get that initial user group right, and it’s crucial to listen to them and act on what they demand. If in your user group you include people (like Joel and Lloyd) who don’t think you’re going to listen to them then you’ve lost those customers perhaps for ever.

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    Why don’t online calendars work?

    I wrote previously about Lloyd and Joel’s complaints about online calendars. In the Guardian’ [...]


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    Why don’t online calendars work?

    I wrote previously about Lloyd and Joel’s complaints about online calendars. In the Guardian’ [...]

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