Why We’re Better: No Guess Work

May 29, 2006

I was just catching up on Lars Pind’s software blog and I came across this snippet from John Gruber of Daring Fireball:

“Once software starts down this path of guessing what it is the user is trying to do, and then doing something special based on that guess, it must guess correctly nearly every time, because the times when it guesses wrong are so annoying that they far outweigh the extra convenience of the times when it guesses right.”

The fact that guess work is not necessary in Software As A Service (SAAS) feedback driven software development is a boon for users and developers alike.  Guess work is the reason accounting software companies like Intuit QuickBooks have got it wrong for so long.  They built in all the features you could possibly imagine because they had the resources.  They did not worry about the fact that it took 12 steps to create an invoice and five hours to set up your software.

In the SAAS paradigm (and FreshBooks is a perfect example of this) it’s now common sense (i.e. “what do we build next?”) that is the x factor for many software services.  “How can we add feature A, and still provide our users with the fastest way to generate invoices?  Do we even need to add feature A, or is there a work around?”

I went on to comment on Lars’ blog as follows:

“…this is the beauty of software development in the ASP/web2 landscape…you get so much – and such direct – feedback from users that you can make the right move almost all of the time.

Developing software pre a web enabled instant feedback loop was infinitely harder because of the distance between developers and users. SAAS closes that gap and benefits both parties.”

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.