Archive for August, 2006

Users are more important than potential users!

This ought to be obvious.   But as Kathy Sierra mentions it is clear that not all companies are thinking things through.

How many products have you bought with million dollar marketing budgets, and not enough money to create a manual written in something resembling english, with reasonable diagrams?

Users are your best advocates, word-of-mouth only works if your users have a great experience.  As Kathy would say, if you help your users “kick ass” they will tell their friends.

Which brings me to my real point, manuals are important, but most of the time people expect them to suck and they don’t even read them.   So, even if you write great manuals, you need to think about how to market your manual to your users.

This isn’t some hypothetical post.  The software we sell at Humantech has fantastic manuals, which we spend a lot of time and money polishing up, and they work!

I’ve yet to have a support call from a user who read the manual, and nearly every support call can be solved by reference to the manual.    But people still don’t read the manual unless we prompt them.

I can usually “sell” the idea of reading the manual to any given user in the space of a support call, and once they read it they always thank me.  But we need to find ways to make our manual more “attractive” so that new users actually read it without need to be individually “sold” on the idea.
Let me know if you have any ideas/experience marketing your manuals to your users.

It’s a pretty high priority for me right now because I’m convinced that it could free up quite a bit of time and help our users have an even better experience with our software.

My company is hiring!

Humantech, Inc is looking for a part time software developer to work on a Java/Struts application. Yea, I know I’ve been writing about Python and TurboGears a lot recently. But the fact is we have a sizable investment in Java and Struts too, and we are looking for somebody to help us out with supporting our growing client base.

java_power_small.jpgThere’s an increasing demand for customization, our sales are up, and we want to continue to grow our core applications.

Humantech is looking for someone with strong Java and/or Web Development skill/experience. We also value flexibility, knowledge of Test Driven Development and other “agile” practices. Linux/unix experience is an advantage. And of course, I happen to love Python, so knowing Python would also help. ;)

We care a lot about professional development, and we’re interested in people who are willing to learn new technologies, and hone their skills in various areas. In fact, one of the key reasons we are hiring, is that our current workload leaves no room for professional development.

We offer competitive salary, flexible scheduling, opportunities for advancement, and the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.

If you are interested, e-mail your resume to Mention you heard it here, and I’ll make sure I call you!

Too much to do

I’m finishing up the last little bit of the TurboGears book, hiring new people at work, moving at home, and trying to keep everything together.

Thank heavens I found Getting Things Done last year — without a trusted system outside of my head for all my to-do items my life would be falling apart and my stress level would be insane.

In about a week I’ll be able to get back to blogging, and I have a half dozen article stubs just waiting for a little bit of attention, so I hope it will be worth the wait!