What we are? Focus and positioning

It is interesting how various project management tools vendors position their products. 

TargetProcess

Manage any agile project with TargetProcess

TargetProcess slogan is outdated, since we are focusing on small to medium businesses. “Any project” does not fit anymore, so we should re-think it and create better, more focused message.

Basecamp

Basecamp is the top choice for entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses, and groups inside big organizations.

I think Basecamp has the best wording with very clear focus. Nice copywriting.

Rally

Build your Agile Enterprise with Rally Software. Knowledge, coaching and tooling to deliver working software in rapid iterations.

Rally has focused message as well. It is an enterprise-level solution. 

Versionone

Simplifying software delivery

Sounding slogan, but quite poor message on my opinion. It states that company mission is to do anything to simplify software delivery, while ALM tool is just a part of this.

Jira+Greenhopper

No slogan.

JIRA provides issue tracking and project tracking for software development teams to improve code quality and the speed of development.

ScrumWorks

No Slogan

ScrumWorks was created to be as intuitive and streamlined as Scrum itself.

Microsoft Project

Effectively Plan, Collaborate & Deliver

Very general and you hardly remember it.

Designing software: 1-few-many

How many screens software application should have? That’s a hard question. Most desktop software applications have 1 screen. While most web applications have many screens. What is the best option? Let’s try to figure out.

1 Screen

One screen is the best option for simple tools. Almost all email clients, calendars, todo lists, graphic editors has a single main screen with some additional popups and dialogs. It helps to focus on your task and quickly access all actions in a single place.

Things is a great example of an application where single screen concept works best.

Few Screens

Many famous web applications have just few screens. They are quite simple and easy to understand. Twitter has few screens, Tumblr has few screens, Basecamp has few screens. There are several types of screens in general, we can easily categorize them:

  • Lists
  • Single entity views
  • Add/Edit
  • Dashboards
  • Functional areas (calendar, planning area, settings area, etc.)

You can split every web application to these screens. Most desktop applications have a single area that contains list, entity view, functional area. Most actions served via popups.

Should we have a separate screen for every list? Should we have a separate screen for Add entity action? View entity? How many different functional areas should we have? What if you have 20 entities in application, does it means you should have 20 separate screens? Most likely not.

Many Screens

Most powerful/complex applications have many screens. In fact, I don’t know any powerful, but simple web application. Hope it will change in future, but honestly I did the same mistake myself. TargetProcess is a complex application (so far). We designed it with a goal 1 action — 1 screen. We designed separate screens for every business action like Prioritize work, Plan releases, Plan iterations, Track iteration, etc. It was a mistake. As a result, TargetProcess has ~100 screens and far from simplicity. 

However, I think I know how to fix that. I believe it is possible to shrink any complex application to 3-4 screens that will be used daily, and N screens that will be used rarely.

The goal is to separate actions that people do often and actions that are rare. In this case you can simplify and merge screens, make them multi-functional yet simple enough to solve real problems with elegance and power. In that case it does not matter how many screens will be hidden from daily routine work, you can always access them with 2-3 clicks, but they should not clutter UI.

Also you should be creative and think whether you need separate screen for every list in you app. It may happen that you can live without lists at all or combine several lists together. For example, we can easily combine Features, Stories and Bugs in TargetProcess, but “traditional” thinking causes functional blindness and blocks your creativity. 

Open your mind. Re-think everything. Re-invent anything again. Believe me, you can always do better. Copy-paste is not the best way to create new software products.

Solitude and Leadership

Great article. So many deep insights.

That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities?

I promise you that you will meet these people and you will find yourself in environments where what is rewarded above all is conformity

No, what makes him a thinker—and a leader—is precisely that he is able to think things through for himself. And because he can, he has the confidence, the courage, to argue for his ideas even when they aren’t popular. 

And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom

Marlow believes in the need to find yourself just as much as anyone does, and the way to do it, he says, is work, solitary work. Concentration. Climbing on that steamboat and spending a few uninterrupted hours hammering it into shape. Or building a house, or cooking a meal, or even writing a college paper, if you really put yourself into it.

You have to be prepared in advance. You need to know, already, who you are and what you believe: not what the Army believes, not what your peers believe (that may be exactly the problem), but what you believe.