I’ve been thinking about what can one software developer write about Steve Jobs that is worth publishing. I was glad to see a lot of people understand what Jobs was all about and I was somewhat upset by people that did not understand why “all the hype” is important so I have been thinking about how to best put this. Why do I think Steve Jobs is so important?
I think Joel Spolsky put it very well in his blog post about Steve Jobs.
Even then, Steve didn’t give a hoot about your needs as nerdy computer geeks. He was trying to make a computer as simple as a toaster. Because he figured out that until you make computers as simple as toasters, you can’t make the world a better place.
That’s what I think it was all about. It was about user experience. It was about guaranteeing the way things work.
Sure *I* will almost always pick the more “hackable” smartphone over the “closed” one. Sure *I* will always enjoy an operating system that I feel I have full control over. But I (and people like me) represent a minority. Unless the specific target of that piece of software (for example an IDE) is him/herself a developer what I think and feel about the interaction with the product, through my engineering analytic mind, is completely not important. The user – the REAL user – is important. What I – the developer – should be focusing on is making my contraption easy to use and understand for the user (and if it’s a general purpose project, that means ANY user).
As long as we continue to develop with just ourselves in mind as target users, I believe we will never move on from our garage-hacker status, no matter what shiny buildings we move our chairs and Darth Vader-shaped coffee mugs into.
Yes people may use our products, because the benefits will outweigh the difficulty in usability, but that’s not the way it should be. Until we work HARD to do things that work for everyone and anyone else, we will just be hackers. Steve Jobs loved the user and that’s why the users love him.
And as it turns out (post on that will follow shortly)… if you try hard enough to build things for the regular end-user, you may eventually capture the hearts of engineers as well.. because despite the wires sticking out of our backpacks and the weird markings on our tshirts… we are still human and we sure love a shiny intuitive interface (we’ll never admit it openly though) that just does what it’s supposed to do.
So what should I say to honor the life of this great man? Here’s an attempt to make a pledge.
I pledge to always remember the user, to always consider the user experience to be the highest priority in all my work and understand that all other requirements come forth from that. I pledge to do all that I can to make the user happy and satisfied. I pledge to develop for the world and for the future.
And one more thing… I promise to always stay starving damn hungry, Steve Jobs. Always. Hungry and foolish. I promise that.