Preparing a functional spec is a lot of work, but it is all worth it. After the spec was completed I created a project schedule in FogBugz. I am aiming to get a private beta out by the end of the year, according to FogBugz I have a 85% probability chance of reaching the deadline.
But I am now happy to let the world know that production has started on project XNL. The focus of V1 is to get a very simplified solution out there that is not complicated to use and very easy to distribute. There is a lot more to come after V1 and I can’t wait to get started on it, but we need to build this foundation first.
“If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” – Romans 14:8
It has now been proven over and over again that software with a better user experience goes a long way over software that has a poor user experience. And sometimes if not almost always software registration is the first experience of our software solutions.
To protect our software from piracy we need to implement these necessary evil schemes in our software and it is going to require user intervention. It would be great if a user can buy a license and boom his installed copy works now without the nagging screen. Unfortunately this is not possible yet, and we as software vendors must give the user the best experience in getting their software licensed. Every ISV must realize that user experience is more important than to try protect your software from piracy, but that is another blog post in itself.
The whole licensing scheme experience starts right from the beginning of downloading the software, ordering the software, receiving the license and re-installing the software later again. When a user downloads your trial period software he is most probably going to see a nagging screen every time he runs the application, this nagging screen should also have a good user experience. You might ask “Is nagging screens then not suppose to be nagging?”. For sure, but I am referring to the user experience to get this nagging screen to go away. At least have a button on that screen for the user to direct him to a purchase webpage.
Software vendors must put careful thought into how and what they deliver for a software license and how it impacts on the user’s experience registering the software. If you going to send license keys via email and the email is marked as spam how does this influence the experience? If you have a 50 character license key that a user needs to type in how does this influence the experience? If you deliver a license file how easy is it for a user to import that license into the application? Have you ever thought about that the user is going to need to keep track of all his software licenses? When he re-installs his machine or upgrade to a new machine he is going to need to re-install and register all his applications again, how is the experience going to be?
You want to make sure that this experience of registering your software goes smoothly and quickly, because the more time the user have to spend on registering your software the worst the experience gets.
We all have registered software before and we know which experience was good and which ones was not so good. Unless you can figure out a way of automatically registering a software product when it is purchased, you should stick to proven schemes that work, but if you still want to change the way software is registered you will have to keep the user experience in mind all the way through the process.
While working on the spec for Xenotar’s next big product, it came time to decide which features need to be included in version 1.0. I am all for release early and release often approach that is why I am at this point deciding which features to cut to make an early release.
While I was wondering if the features that I pinned down for v1.0 is enough, I came across a saying (can’t remember who) “If you are not embarrassed with v1.0 you waited to long to ship”.
I am happy with the feature set now for v1.0, still need to touch up here and there on the spec. I am hoping to have a project schedule up by the end of the week, so that development can start next week.