The difficult part of designing software is coming up with that 1.0 design. The second most difficult part is following through and releasing. Once I gain users, the direction of the project is mostly in their hands. What I provide is a filter. I listen to their their difficulties, their ideas, sprinkle my magic over them, and release again. And again. Each time the product matures.
I treat each vocal user as a representative. For every person that contacts me, there are hundreds that don’t. Waiting until 20 users report an issue is failing to respond to the 2000 they represent.
Today, a GDE user asked for help on the forum. 30 minutes later he reported the documentation helped him get past the issue. That’s good. If a user is able to fix their problems reading the docs, the docs are doing their job. However, that user spent time confused and frustrated with my software. That’s not good. Many more users are silently dealing with this shortcoming.
Being content with that outcome is a wasted opportunity. Most users don’t speak up. It’s a rare gift to hear feedback. When I do, I act. Sometimes that’s clarifying docs, fixing a bug, or redesigning a feature. Listen carefully. The more you give to your users, the more they will give back.
If you asked me what sells software a year ago, I would have said bells and whistles. New features. New levers and pulleys to play with. Ask me today and I’ll say: stability, usability, and above all, great support.