Slava of Unsanity posted part I of a good article about being successful in what he calls “Indieware” (formerly known as shareware) – reasonably-priced software developed by small companies, or individual developers such as myself.

First thing to ask yourself is how useful your software would be? Would you use it? Some people I know are making software they don’t use personally and try to sell that (OK, “day job” work doesn’t count, I am talking about indieware here and in the rest of the article). My vague point is that the product will not sell good enough if you do not use it yourself daily, or see no real use for it, or are not inspired enough to use it. Call me superstitious, but how you feel about your software creation is more or less how users will feel about it, except they will have less love and tender feelings than you do towards it.

Some younger developers I directed to the article found this point too self-evident, but it’s not!

Erik J. Barzeski also agrees it’s not self-evident:

Successful indieware developers “get it.” They’re Mac users to the core. Mac users are picky. They have high standards. Mac users care about the whole experience – is your site great, icon cool, and application dock-aware? “Where’s my damn AppleScript support!” they’ll ask. Do your keyboard shortcuts meet their expectations? Is your toolbar pretty? Do you even have a toolbar?

If you’ve been using a Mac for five years or more, you “get” this already. You’re a picky sonofabitch too, and you despise crap applications,especially if they’re your own. Indieware developers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the above issues and more during development – great UI doesn’t just fall from the sky. Slava says that new developers should not “…be ashamed to spend a week or more in the planning stage.” I say they should be ashamed (and will be shamed) if they only spend a week. Planning never ends. Mac users expect nothing less.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Slava also links to The Do’s and Dont’s of Shareware and Software Strategies for Emerging Developers, two other must-read articles. Now to wait for part II…