The Filter (week of May 12) 37signals 12 May 2006

11 comments Latest by Jared White

Some interesting comments posted this week at Signal vs. Noise:

Screens Around Town: One-page sites

Wilson Miner 08 May 06
One page sites are the perfect cure for the “why haven’t we made a website for this yet” syndrome. I put this site together in a couple days, including writing the content, because I was tired of answering the same questions over the phone (including “where’s the website?”). Knowing that everything has to go on one page really helps distill down exactly what information is really necessary and keeps you from adding a bunch of extra fluff because you need to fill in a spot in the site navigation, or because “the about page looks empty”.

The importance of instant feedback

Glenn Davies 09 May 06
Several years ago, I had lunch with a successful business man who had agreed to meet with me and listen to my ‘big’ idea. He listened throughout lunch, asked the right questions and then he said two words that have stuck with me since that time, “Fail Fast”.

At first I was clearly disappointed, but then I recovered and realized the wisdom in those carely chosen words. The concepts behind Getting Real are not new, the boys at 37s will tell you that, but they are new to a tired old club of developers who just don’t want to change (cross-browser compatible???). Instant feedback, built into your product and/or service, will limit your failures and move you closer to your next success.

No, by BMW

RS 09 May 06
I don’t think you can separate prettyness from functionality.

Consider the shape of a cello. While at first glance the curves look ornamental, on inspection one finds they are necessary to produce a good sound.

Sometimes the notion of “prettyness” is actually included in a function. For example, what makes a public space “functional”? Nikos Salingaros has discussed how so-called ornamental elements like facets and flutes actually function to redirect sound and light toward the pedestrian level. This stands in contrast to flat “functional” surfaces.

Push optional data entry as far back as you can

Geof Harries 09 May 06
What I’m, and our support team (2 developers) is discovering is that the registration process that seemed so simple and straightforward in internal testing is driving many members of the public absolutely batty. It’s also causing a lot of frustration for us when trying to troubleshoot their problems.

In hindsight we should have made the registration form a lot simpler and with less required data. There’s just too much being asked for, and people are annoyed by the questions about gender, age, mailing address and so forth. Honestly, I let corporate politics and feature requests get in the way of a solid user experience at such a critical juncture (the signup).

Mr. More

Michal Migurski 11 May 06
“I’m here to celebrate Mr. Less. We’re not so different, he and I. We get it. We’re not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We’re not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say “I did look it up, and that’s not true.” That’s ‘cause you looked it up in a book.”

Keep your ambitions in check

I’m With Stupid 11 May 06
When a baseball player goes to bat, does he automatically try to hit a home run? Of course not. Sometimes, a bunt is the right hit to make. Sometimes, a single is as good as a homer. Sometimes, the coach says to swing away and you let it rip.

To bring it back to what DHH said: just because you just solved a Herculean problem doesn’t mean the next one is of the same scale and nature, so you shouldn’t charge out and engage it like it is. You need to step back and examine the problem. Don’t get wrapped up in your own cleverness. Find out what the real problem is, which may have solutions that are much easier and/or simplier to achieve than.

DHH 11 May 06
I’m With Stupid is spot on, but let me elaborate on just a few additional points. Most problems are best served with simple, mundane solutions. It’s often unglamorous work. You don’t get to flex your great intellect or fulfill your ambitions of grandeur.

I’ve met lots of people who can’t deal with that. Once they’ve solved something truly hard, it seems as though the mundane is beneath you. I’ve felt the same sensation from time to time. Solving ever harder problems becomes a drug and you’ll look for your next rush regardless of whether its a good time to get high or not.

bleargh 11 May 06
richard hamming talked about something related to this in his famous speech/talk, “you and your research.” he mentioned famous researchers winning the nobel prize and then not being able to work on anything small after that - because they came to feel they had a reputation and a precedent to keep up. but the small things seem to be what snowball into breakthroughs (which are what in fact are desired in the natural sciences, i guess), and you have to go through any complex problem solving process in small steps at a time. although in that talk, hamming actually encouraged and challenged people to only attempt to do world-changing things.

Dave Rosen 11 May 06
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be simple. Enjoy simple stepping stones.

11 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Marius 12 May 06

I fully agree with the first comment - “concept of one page sites”.
The web is getting too difficult to use, so we have to go the way of simplicity to help users find what they really need without those bulky sitemaps and unnecessarily complex navigations.

Anonymous Coward 12 May 06

What day is it today this year?

How is it that you post *results* for week of May12 on May 12?


Greg 12 May 06

Please tell me that the spam-robot yelling about cheap iPods is going to make the Filter next week.

Gary R Boodhoo 12 May 06

some seemingly great bargains listed. Nothing inspires consumer confidence like a hotmail account!

Bob 12 May 06

Can I start listing stuff for sale, too?

My first born��.$80usd
His sister��.$75usd

Daniel, Rogue Connect 12 May 06

Pretty good deal on the sister Bob ;)

Now delete the spam guys!

kevin rutherford 13 May 06

I loved the design and concept of the 1-page website. But aren’t you concerned about readers with a 800-pixel screen?

Marijn 13 May 06

A lot of clients seem to be afraid of users having to scroll. They think only the top area of a page matters, and that users almost never scroll to read additional content. I usually ask them if the difference in moving your mousewheel or clicking a button is so large.

Gubb 15 May 06

Mr. More corrects your facts, reminds you it�s �fewer� not �less,�

Mr More does not like to have his mistakes pointed out to him.

Wilson Miner 15 May 06

Kevin: I was a little worried about it at first, but it’s a pretty targeted audience, so the risks were pretty low to try it out. So far, about 0.98% of visitors have screens 800x600 or lower, so I haven’t been too worried about it.

Jared White 15 May 06

Large scrolling 1-page site? Wow, it’s 1994 all over again!