February 22, 2010

PCMP Lesson 1: Easy Isn't Easy

Over the weekend, I created a small app called PleaseCallMyPhone.com. It does just that- it calls your phone. I made it as a remedy for lost phones, however it is simple enough that you could use it for other things. It only took me a day to make, however I wanted to share a few quick lessons I learned from making it.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Eric Willis and he said something I really liked:

Everything that's easy isn't if you do a good job.

Take a look at Please Call My Phone. I used Twilio (my super-easy-to-use obsession), which did most of the heavy lifting. In fact, I got a "prototype" working in about ten minutes. So, then, why did it take me a whole day to get the finished product out the door?

It is the little things that take the time. The Pareto principle plays a big part in it— 20% of the work always does seem to take up at least 80% of the time.

My original, ten minute version had just a text box that called a phone. Every little tweak and change took time, though. Each little addition (scheduling, the design, better error handling, link to my site and Twilio link, JavaScript enhancements, etc) added up quickly.

There are a lot of hidden time sinks, too. Take a look at scheduling, for example— little things like handling time zones took a ton of time, and nobody will even notice.

People notice when something is done wrong, not when it is done right.

So, remember— if what you are doing is quick and easy, you are probably not doing a good enough job.

About Gregory Koberger

I'm a freelance developer and designer, formerly of Mozilla. I talk a lot about web development, technology and user experience — sometimes on my blog but mostly on Twitter.

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