Choosing a Product By Roadmap

There are a lot of reasons to choose a specific technology. You can decide based on what skills you or the engineers around you have. You can decide on a new technology because it’s the right tool. But there are times when all other things are equal and the flip of a coin would suffice. And in my mind, that’s when it comes to choosing the right technology based on a roadmap.
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DNS Staying With The Times

My company signed a contract for a provider that uses TZO as their DNS provider. Now I have used TZO before (circa 2006-2007) and although their interface was archaic and there was no API, I accepted it because I was told they were reliable. As it happens, the service was fantastic and they are very reliable. I don’t think the service went down once the entire time I was using them. I ended up leaving the company and never saw the API or new interface come to fruition.
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Changing Shoes For A Redesign

The best way to rethink things is to be in the shoes of your users. Use your app how they use your app. Try to take a fresh look at your application like you’ve never seen it before. Would you change the location of the menu/navigation? Would you change the actual menus/navigation? Would you add a shortcut search box where there wasn’t one before? Maybe you remove the advertising or move the place that the ads are located so that they are less intrusive…

The idea is that every so often you need to take a step back. Looking at your application from your users perspective may well change how your entire application works. I’m not saying this from a statistical analysis of the way people click and heatmaps and all that good stuff (though they do have their applications), I’m saying just a pure usability test from another perspective. Where do the new users look? Where do they click? What’s the first thing they want to go to? Are you putting them through information overload?

So take a step back, change shoes and take a fresh look at your app. No statistics, no heatmaps, no preconceived notions about the problem you are trying to solve (I know this is easier said than done). Just remember why you wrote your app in the first place. Try the passion on for size again and see if that doesn’t stir things up a bit.

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Being Smart is all about Being Resourceful

The internet us the ability to not while keeping up the appearance that we do. Now that’s not to say that you should be a know it all, but you should definitely know how and where to get information if you need it. If you use a specific open source technology at work, then you need to know how to support (because odds are, it was written by a few interested people and doesn’t have a company behind it). So you should know where the forums are, where the documentation is, where the mailing lists and the mailing list archives are, etc. Do they have an IRC channel where you can talk to live users who might be able to help on a more immediate basis? Maybe there was an even a book written that you can get your hands on, a PDF, or even a screencast. If you lucky, you might write a Tweet about your frustration and one of the products creators will answer (which happened to me recently).
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