Ask Joel – Pricing Products (And there’s more so click that link):

“(1) As a small software company you are NOT going to compete on price. Don’t say to yourself “we have the ability to make this thing cheaper than anyone else, so we should compete on price.” Large companies have all kinds of economies of scale that you don’t have, and you’re not going to be able to sustain a price advantage. Find a different advantage.

(2) Pricing sends messages. Expensive products (like Perforce, $795/copy) “seem” like higher-quality products than cheap ones (Vault, $199/copy) even if they aren’t. People believe that “you get what you pay for.” A new high price may INCREASE your unit sales if the old price sent a message of “Cheap!”

(3) There are natural limits. Home/consumer users won’t spend more than about $20 in cash, or about $50 on a credit card. At most corporations the low level business managers have the right to spend some fixed amount of money on their credit cards without getting any permission, and that amount is usually either $300 or $500. If you set your price at $600 you are arbitrarily losing a lot of these sales because now the low level manager needs to go through purchasing and get approval. For years UserLand Frontier has been priced at $899 … just out of reach of everybody with a corporate American Express”

Ask Joel – Non-Technical Program Managers: “My organization has in recent years been overrun with program managers who seem better-equipped to make decisions about polo shirts and khaki pants than about technical matters.

They foment confusion by misusing distinct technical terms as if they were interchangable. They’re oblivious to technical nuance. Worst of all, they have no natural defenses against the influence of weak engineers. (Hmmm, maybe the weak engineers are the real problem here… Maybe software companies don’t need technical PM’s.)”

Great writing in the answers. I wish I could write like that.

At work, I still use (the default) Netscape Communicator 4.7 for email. When you open the email client, it shows a webpage with search and some news headlines in the message preview window. A co-worker alerted me to the fact that the news headlines haven’t been updated for about 6 months (I couldn’t figure out exactly how long). The last headlines (and these have been showing for months) are:

US News: Bush to Sign Partial Birth Abortion Ban
Sports: Judge Rejects Evidence in Olympic Trial
Entertainment: Keith Keeping CMA Awards in Perspective

What happened? They might have had a round of layoffs. I imagine the manager asking: “Does anyone know what that guy in the corner does?” Nobody knows. He gets fired, and the news headlines never get updated again. Nobody notices. If there’s a lesson in there somewhere, I haven’t found it.

I can highly recommend Bloglines as a news aggregator. It does everything you want, and makes it easy. They also come out with new features every few weeks that not only work well and are easy to use, but are also actually useful. The latest one lets you email your subscriptions.

This means you can set up a newsreader, add a whole set of subscriptions to it, and then email those to your friends/team/… Useful stuff.

According to Joho the Blog, Corbis (Stock photography) are doing interesting things with metadata and categorization. He’s writing a Wired article about it, something to look forward to.

To give you an idea of the classification challenges, the guys here at work recently had to find pictures of people, in business casual clothes, with diverse racial features.

Webmonkey, RIP: 1996 – 2004: “Webmonkey, the site that turned humble Web developers into attention-grabbing authors, said last week it is closing down following a round of layoffs in the U.S. division of its parent company, Terra Lycos (also the parent company of Wired News). Judging by blog posts and e-mails, the site’s fans aren’t surprised. Still, they’re sad to see the end of an era.”

I started out with Webmonkey. They had some of the best technical writing out there. But the last few years I rarely visited them anymore.

This new project looks worth checking out: topic maps Wiki: “The project is called Topiki, and is a Wiki- and topic maps based application for intranet/internet collaborative documentation / CMS. It works almost like other Eiki’s, but has subtle Topic maps features that would make it ideal, and really is one of the big bugbears I have with Wiki’s today.”

Oh man. From The Price of Loyalty: The Bush Files, a classic memo: “Before a January, 2002, appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Treasury Department public relations chief Michele Davis sent Secretary O’Neill a 3-page memo explaining how he should deal with host Tim Russert. The memo, which coaches O’Neill on how to avoid the substance of Russert’s questions, is a classic of political spin. O’Neill was told to answer the first question by praising the President’s economic stimulus proposals, “no matter the question.” “You need to interject the President’s message,” Davis coached O’Neill, “even if the question has nothing to do with that.”

In the memo are beauties like: “”First Answer, no matter the question: We must act to ensure our economy recovers and people get back to work.”

Anil Dash: Compulsion to Blog. I know what that feels like. “The compulsion to quote and link is too strong…. Being stuck in an airport last night without connectivity, I found myself ripping the pages out of a print magazine so that I could refer to them later and quote from them. Soon I’ll resort to creating links with scotch tape and thread.”

A search strategy I find myself using regularly is adding the word ‘blog’ to my search query. It tends to filter out the blatantly commercial sites.

Ah! Some good old fashioned IA discussion.

Mark Hurst writes about The Page Paradigm and gets talked about by Peterme, Christina and others.

As PeterMe says though (“I did a quick assessment of the site Mark points to, and I can say with no reservation that you should totally follow all of Mark’s suggestions when you’re designing a 26 page site. “), Mark is pretty much missing the ball here.

Mark writes: “Users don’t much care “where they are” in the website. So-called “breadcrumb links,” which show the user the exact hierarchy of the website as they click further down, are a nice but mostly irrelevant technology. It’s not that users don’t understand the links; it’s that they don’t care.”

Of course users don’t care where they are in the website. Thinking that is a beginners’ mistake.

Mark writes: “I emphasize this because Web developers often waste time worring about “where content should live.”

But Mark, we don’t do that because we think users care about where they are. We do that so that users can more easily find things.

He also writes: “Consistency is NOT necessary.”

There are kinds of consistency that are important. Don’t put three links on a page with different names that point to the same page. (At least, I think that would be a bad idea. Don’t want to make it a rule though.)

Having fun though – I haven’t seen an IA debate for a while. Who is right, Mark or Peter? And there’s even comic books.

I am becoming more and more convinced that good design gets done by talented teams.

Mm. That sounded too simple.

The comment spam is getting funny (annoying is close now). “Your opinions expressed on your website are great to read. The way you have your website laid out is very cool. I enjoy playing bingo online at …” Quick and Dirty Topic Mapping [Feb. 04, 2002]: “I don’t start with a predefined set of topics. Rather, I allow them to emerge from the material as I work my way through it. I don’t try to create a topic hierarchy. Having wrestled with questions such as whether XML should be a subcategory of Web Development, or vice versa, I’ve concluded that this way lies madness.” (Note Jon is talking about ‘topic maps’ but isn’t talking about the topicmap standard or XTM in any way.)

I am starting to think that the best way to get a new site into Google fast is to link to it from a weblog. I linked to (a friend’s site) a few days ago, and she’s in Google now. Nr. 1 for handmade colombia jewelry, even though the site is pretty much all images.

My logs show the Googlebot indexed 5 pages, the MSNBot indexed 4 pages.

What would a search-engine friendly robots.txt file look like?

WebEx (they’re not paying me) gives you 14 days free trial with unlimited meetings (maximum 3 participants). Try it out if you need to do a set of remote usability tests. It works pretty good.

I’m learning here: I was also guilty of this: “For example, why load all 1000 lines of error handling logic if there were no errors to handle? Why include that library of 101 functions if only one got called for the current request? Why fetch an entire table into a PHP array if you’re only going to display 10 records at a time? Why re-render HTML if the content hasn’t changed?”

SitePoint Blogs : Dynamically Typed: configuration with arrays smells bad.

I have been guilty of this in the past, just because I didn’t know of another method. And it is indeed annoying to maintain. Harry provides two alternatives, including the parse_ini_file() function that I didn’t know about. It lets you put configuration stuff in a classic .ini file, and then parses it into variables for you, fast. Nice!

A friend of mine is gathering grass-roots videa: Recover Video: “RECOVER is a new video magazine that is looking for videos that are 5-minutes or less. This issue focuses on the Republican National Convention coming to NYC in
August to nominate George Bush for President.
The deadline is April 15th, 2004.” Give him some linky love!