Getting Real by Signal 37

Getting Real by Signal 37

Here are the 16 chapters and 91 essays that make up the book.

Introduction chapter 1
• What is Getting Real?
A smaller, faster, better way to build software
• About 37signals
Our small team creates simple, focused software
• Caveats, disclaimers, and other preemptive strikes
Responses to some complaints we hear
The Starting Line chapter 2
• Build Less
Underdo your competition
• What’s Your Problem?
Build software for yourself
• Fund Yourself
Outside money is plan B
• Fix Time and Budget, Flex Scope
Launch on time and on budget
• Have an Enemy
Pick a fight
• It Shouldn’t be a Chore
Your passion — or lack of — will shine through
Stay Lean chapter 3
• Less Mass
The leaner you are, the easier it is to change
• Lower Your Cost of Change
Stay flexible by reducing obstacles to change
• The Three Musketeers
Use a team of three for version 1.0
• Embrace Constraints
Let limitations guide you to creative solutions
• Be Yourself
Differentiate yourself from bigger companies by being personal and friendly
Priorities chapter 4
• What’s the big idea?
Explicitly define the one-point vision for your app
• Ignore Details Early On
Work from large to small
• It’s a Problem When It’s a Problem
Don’t waste time on problems you don’t have yet
• Hire the Right Customers
Find the core market for your application and focus solely on them
• Scale Later
You don’t have a scaling problem yet
• Make Opinionated Software
Your app should take sides
Feature Selection chapter 5
• Half, Not Half-Assed
Build half a product, not a half-ass product
• It Just Doesn’t Matter
Essentials only
• Start With No
Make features work hard to be implemented
• Hidden Costs
Expose the price of new features
• Can You Handle It?
Build something you can manage
• Human Solutions
Build software for general concepts and encourage people to create their own solutions
• Forget Feature Requests
Let your customers remind you what’s important
• Hold the Mayo
Ask people what they don’t want
Process chapter 6
• Race to Running Software
Get something real up and running quickly
• Rinse and Repeat
Work in iterations
• From Idea to Implementation
Go from brainstorm to sketches to HTML to coding
• Avoid Preferences
Decide the little details so your customers don’t have to
• “Done!”
Decisions are temporary so make the call and move on
• Test in the Wild
Test your app via real world usage
• Shrink Your Time
Break it down
The Organization chapter 7
• Unity
Don’t split into silos
• Alone Time
People need uninterrupted time to get things done
• Meetings Are Toxic
Don’t have meetings
• Seek and Celebrate Small Victories
Release something today
Staffing chapter 8
• Hire Less and Hire Later
Add slow to go fast
• Kick the Tires
Work with prospective employees on a test-basis first
• Actions, Not Words
Judge potential tech hires on open source contributions
• Get Well Rounded Individuals
Go for quick learning generalists over ingrained specialists
• You Can’t Fake Enthusiasm
Go for happy and average over frustrated and great
• Wordsmiths
Hire good writers
Interface Design chapter 9
• Interface First
Design the interface before you start programming
• Epicenter Design
Start from the core of the page and build outward
• Three State Solution
Design for regular, blank, and error states
• The Blank Slate
Set expectations with a thoughtful first-run experience
• Get Defensive
Design for when things go wrong
• Context Over Consistency
What makes sense here may not make sense there
• Copywriting is Interface Design
Every letter matters
• One Interface
Incorporate admin functions into the public interface
Code chapter 10
• Less Software
Keep your code as simple as possible
• Optimize for Happiness
Choose tools that keep your team excited and motivated
• Code Speaks
Listen when your code pushes back
• Manage Debt
Pay off your code and design “bills”
• Open Doors
Get data out into the world via RSS, APIs, etc.
Words chapter 11
• There’s Nothing Functional about a Functional Spec
Don’t write a functional specifications document
• Don’t Do Dead Documents
Eliminate unnecessary paperwork
• Tell Me a Quick Story
Write stories, not details
• Use Real Words
Insert actual text instead of lorem ipsum
• Personify Your Product
What is your product’s personality type?
Pricing and Signup chapter 12
• Free Samples
Give something away for free
• Easy On, Easy Off
Make signup and cancellation a painless process
• Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for Kids
Avoid long-term contracts, sign-up fees, etc.
• A Softer Bullet
Soften the blow of bad news with advance notice and grandfather clauses
Promotion chapter 13
• Hollywood Launch
Go from teaser to preview to launch
• A Powerful Promo Site
Build an ace promotional site that introduces people to your product
• Ride the Blog Wave
Blogging can be more effective than advertising (and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper)
• Solicit Early
Get advance buzz and signups going ASAP
• Promote Through Education
Share your knowledge with the world
• Feature Food
They’re hungry for it so serve it up
• Track Your Logs
Study your logs to track buzz
• Inline Upsell
Promote upgrade opportunities inside the app
• Name Hook
Give your app a name that’s easy to remember
Support chapter 14
• Feel The Pain
Tear down the walls between support and development
• Zero Training
Use inline help and FAQs so your product doesn’t require a manual or training
• Answer Quick
Quick turnaround time on support queries should be a top priority
• Tough Love
Be willing to say no to your customers
• In Fine Forum
Use forums or chat to let customers help each other
• Publicize Your Screwups
Get bad news out there and out of the way
Post-Launch chapter 15
• One Month Tuneup
Issue a major update 30 days after launch
• Keep the Posts Coming
Show your product is alive by keeping an ongoing product development blog post-launch
• Better, Not Beta
Don’t use “beta” as a scapegoat
• All Bugs Are Not Created Equal
Prioritize your bugs (and even ignore some of them)
• Ride Out the Storm
Wait until knee-jerk reactions to changes die down before taking action
• Keep Up With the Joneses
Subscribe to news feeds about your competitors
• Beware the Bloat Monster
More mature doesn’t have to mean more complicated
• Go With the Flow
Be open to new paths and changes in direction
Conclusion chapter 16
• Start Your Engines
A few closing thoughts

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