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Getting Real Cover

My Abstract from: Getting Real

The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application, First Revision, 2006 by 37signals

Note:The following quotes from the book are only for me to remember the content better. With my notes it isn't possible to understand the book. You can buy the book online from 37signals. There you can also find the complete table of contents and some free chapters. The page numbers are given to relocate faster. The main chapter titles are set bold and quotes are set italic.
Hinweis:Inzwischen habe ich eine ausführlichere und kommentierte deutsche Zusammenfassung in drei Teilen im BLOG von Ivo Bättig gefunden: Teil1 (Tips/Ideen/Trends), Teil2 (Funktionalitäten/Prozesse/Organisation/Stellenbesetzung) und Teil3 (Interface Design/Code/Worte/Preise und Anmeldungen/Promotion/Support/Nach der Einführung).


4The importance of having a philosophy

12The Starting Line

24Your passion - or lack of - will shine through

25Stay Lean

33Let limitations guide you to creative solutions

35... being personal and friendly


38Explicitly define the one-point vision for your app

42Don’t waste time on problems you don’t have yet

47Feature Selection

48Build half a product, not a half-ass product

49It Just Doesn’t Matter

51Start With No

55Build software for general concepts and encourage people to create their own solutions

56Forget Feature Requests -> ... Let your customers remind you what’s important ... -> ... How do you manage them? You don’t. Just read them and then throw them away.

58Steve JobsInnovation Comes From Saying No


60Get something real up and running quickly

64From Idea to Implementation:

  1. Brainstorm,
  2. Paper sketches,
  3. Create HTML screens and
  4. Code it

66Avoid Preferences: Decide the little details so your customers don’t have to

67Havoc PenningtonPreferences Have a Cost

68Decisions are temporary so make the call and move on

69Be An Executioner

It’s so funny when I hear people being so protective of ideas. (People who want me to sign and to tell me the simplest idea.)

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.


Awful idea = -1
Weak idea = 1
So-so idea = 5
Good idea = 10
Great idea = 15
Brilliant idea = 20

No execution = $1
Weak execution = $1000
So-so execution = $10,000
Good execution = $100,000
Great execution = $1,000,000
Brilliant execution = $10,000,000

To make a business, you need to multiply the two. The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20. The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000. That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas. I’m not interested until I see their execution.

Derek Sivers, president and programmer, CD Baby and HostBaby

70Test in the Wild

75The Organization

76hire people with multiple talents

77People need uninterrupted time to get things done

78Set up a rule at work: Make half the day alone time.

79Don’t have meetings

80when you absolutely must have a meeting

81Seek and Celebrate Small Victories -> Release something today


83Don’t hire people.

If someone is fired, don't immediately hire a replacement. Look how long can you go w/o that person and position.

83Fred BrooksBrooks’ law: Adding people to a late software project makes it later.

Mozart -> hire the best you can get

85Work with prospective employees on a test-basis first

87If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.

88Go for quick learning generalists over ingrained specialists

90Hire good writers

91Interface Design

92... the interface is your product. What people see is what you’re selling.

94Epicenter design focuses on the true essence of the page - the epicenter - and then builds outward.

96Design for regular, blank, and error states

99Defensive design is like defensive driving.

100... context is more important than consistency. It’s ok to be inconsistent if your design makes more sense that way.

101Mark Hurstintelligent inconsistency: each page in the process gives users exactly what they need at that point in the process

101Good writing is good design.

102To avoid crappy-admin-screen syndrome, don’t build separate screens to deal with admin functions.


104Keep your code as simple as possible

104... each time you increase the amount of code, your software grows exponentially more complicated

104Solving 80% of the original problem for 20% of the effort is a major win. The original problem is almost never so bad that it’s worth five times the effort to solve it.

105Don’t be afraid to say no to feature requests that are hard to do. Unless they’re absolutely essential, save time / effort / confusion by leaving them out.

105Encourage programmers to make counteroffers.

105Brad AppletonThere is No CODE That is More Flexible Than NO Code!

105The Ganssle GroupComplexity Does Not Scale Linearly With Size

107Optimize for Happiness: A happy programmer is a productive programmer.

107... Ruby and Rails ... share a mission statement to optimize for humans and their happiness

110Nicholas NegroponteIf programmers got paid to remove code from sofware instead of writing new code, software would be a whole lot better.

111The same way you should regularly put aside some of your income for taxes, regularly put aside some time to pay off your code and design debt. If you don’t, you’ll just be paying interest

112Open Doors: Get data out into the world via RSS, APIs, etc.


115Don’t write a functional specifications document

116Write a one page story about what the app needs to do. Use plain language and make it quick. If it takes more than a page to explain it, then it’s too complex. This process shouldn’t take more than one day.

118Don’t Do Dead Documents

123Personify Your Product

124Pricing and Signup

125Give something away for free

126Derek SiversGive Away Your Hit Single

127Make signup and cancellation a painless process

127Tell folks how easy it is: From sign-up to login in just 1 minute!

127make sure people can get their data out if they decide to leave

128Exit with Ease

Don’t hold users against their will. If they want to leave, let them pick up with all of the content they created while they were on your site and leave...for free... You have to let the barn door open and focus on keeping your customers fed, so they want to come back, instead of coming back because they’re stuck.

Charlie O’Donnell, analyst, Union Square Ventures
(from 10 Steps to a Hugely Successful Web 2.0 Company)

129No one likes long term contracts

129Don’t try to find tricky ways to get more cash. Earn it.


132To build up buzz and anticipation, go with a Hollywood-style launch: 1) Teaser, 2) Preview, and 3) Launch.

137Get some sort of site up and start collecting emails as soon as possible. Pick your domain name and put up a logo and maybe a sentence or two that describes, or at least hints at, what your app will do. Then let people give you their email address. Now you’re on your way to having a foundation of folks ready and waiting to be notified of your launch.

138Share your knowledge with the world

138People who you educate will become your evangelists.

139Teaching is all about good karma.

this is healthy promotion




Heiko, remember you have here some special offers to save money

next abstract is Reinhard K. Sprenger "Die Entscheidung liegt bei Dir!" (in German)