I always get really excited when we kick off development of a new version. It begins after years of customer feedback, and even though we regularly add minor features, a major development like v4.0 means we get to add all of the goodies that we (and our customers) have always wanted.
Of course this is easier said than done!
I need to ensure that the new product doesn’t disadvantage anyone, it needs to be more efficient than its predecessor, yet we want to continue leading the pack with great new features. So for me the process is like a 6-month game of chess. Every small move has repercussions, there are risks, happy accidents, and opportunities.
I’m also a songwriter, and this process is so similar, starting with a theme/idea/rationale, or even a set of principles, and driving your obsession to create a new form. So, this time around I thought I’d share the process with you all. while I won’t be divulging too much I hope you find the journey as fascinating as I know I will. Let’s begin!
The process for me has become refined over the years. It used to be that we’d add one big feature (e.g. Our flash-based dynamic gantt chart, a web-based PM first), and I’d plant myself in a local cafe (e.g. My current fav, A Minor Place, on Albion St, Brunswick, if you’re ever in town!) with a 20-page wish-list document from customers, seven latte’s, and choose five features that would make the most impact for our customers within our limited budget.
Five years on the process is a little more refined (as is Copper these days), however, despite the available technology it still starts with a table full of printouts, three principles and a spec document.
The three very simple principles for Version 4.0 are:
- We’re going to reduce pages/clicks by 40%
- It needs to be something that I personally will use every single day
- We’re going to add 100% of the features in our specification document
These might seem like relatively simple goals, but they’re anything but! Reducing pages/clicks by 40% (point 1) whilst adding over 165 features (point 3)?! Thanks to the Inner Circle program (which is filling fast, click here if you want to secure a spot) all three principles are certainly achievable. We’re about a month on since those above shots were taken.
Next week, I’ll post back with a sneak-peek at the spec doc, maybe a screen or two, and talk about how the mock layouts work hand in hand with the spec doc to arrive a development-ready brief. As always thanks for your continued support!
– Ben Prendergast