Recasting Ed Zwick’s moviemaking rules for a startup software business

1. Remember to breathe. You’ve probably worked for two years to get to this moment, and there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get to do it again. You might as well enjoy it.

2. The computer is a Buddha. It sees the world as it is and does exactly what you tell it. It doesn’t implement your expectations or your fantasies. Try to see as the computer sees.

3. No design survives contact with the users. Research, analyse, test and prepare. Then be ready to throw it all away when real users don’t do it like that.

4. A good idea can come from anywhere. You might as well listen to what others have to say because you’re going to get the credit (and blame) anyway. Your programmers, salesmen, accountants, admin folks, project managers, cleaners and so on have probably used a wider range of software than you have even heard of. Joel Spolsky calls this “hallway usability testing”

5. Life is messy. It doesn’t stop while you’re talking on the telephone. If it feels too comfortable, it’s probably wrong; if it feels right it’s probably too slow.

6. No software can ever be simple enough. Surgeons, cops and priests have a lot on their minds, but they still need your software to work right.

7. A user’s attention span is even shorter than yours. Give them something useful, valuable, compelling and obvious everywhere, all the time. As Steve Krug puts it, “Don’t make me think”!

8. The users define the software, the software doesn’t define the users. Unless you have a style, don’t act as if you do.

9. Make your software for one person at a time. Imagine your fourth grade teacher sitting alone in the dark.

10. Where there is no solution there is no problem. At some point in every project, the company management loses faith in the product and the employees loses faith in the company management. Somehow it all works out.

If you are more interested in making movies, see the original at: Ed Zwick’s Golden Moviemaking Rules | MovieMaker Magazine.