(re: no need to criticize Ken Williams) …I know Ken has more than a few dollars in the bank so I figured he would hire a design firm to make something flashy…
Actually .. I did hire a design firm – most of their work isn’t up yet though …
It’s not as easy as it sounds. The software behind this site is VERY complex, and is currently being used by 300+ websites. Every change impacts a LOT of people. Also, my product development group is small: me.
Actually, I recently hired a young man to assist me with product development, but he hasn’t really started yet. Thus far, his net impact is probably a negative. He’s a great guy, and will do fine — but, bringing him up to speed on a HUGE mountain of code has taken a lot of time.
In other words, you are seeing a work in process. It looks better now than it did six months ago, and will look better in six months. You can’t compare it to products with large teams of programmers who have been at it for years. At least not today — in a year, maybe. For now, it is what it is….
If you have specific features you’d like to see on the list, post them. I’m always looking for ideas, and love studying other sites, to see what good ideas I can borrow. I’ll be on my boat for the next three months, and am looking forward to getting a ton of work done (no distractions).
Don’t worry about apologizing. It isn’t necessary. I’ve seen a lot of software (possibly more than almost anyone alive). I know where the product behind this site is weak, and where it’s strong. I know where it’s cute and where it’s ugly. I know when it will be good enough to be considered a product. I also have a good sense of how much additional work needs to be done.
Most people would not expose their work in process to the outside world. Every product that has ever been developed went through an ugly-duckling phase. Most people just hide their ugly ducklings until they become swans. I don’t believe in that as a development strategy. I like the concept of real-world guided software development. Another of my “Ken’s Rules” is: give them something. Watch how they use it, and give them more of what they like, and less of what they don’t.
By involving customers in the design process, the ultimate product is better. Sure – there will be some people that are turned off by how the product looks now. That’s ok — I’m not selling the product, and I’m not charging anyone money. There will come a day when the product is at a point where it’s worth charging for — and, at that point, it will be beautiful. In the meantime, people can take it for what it is — or, not. I’ll let each of them decide on their own… my preference though is that they post a message that says “Gosh .. this would be a cool product if you would just add [X] to it” .. I’ll then look at their message, form my own opinion about how badly the product needs [X], prioritize the task, and throw it on the list. It’s not a perfect system .. but, it works!
Visitors to this site may not realize it, but behind the scenes, we ARE already building a software product together….