The Three-Legged Stool

As you know, I've been trying to convince indie developers that marketing is an important component of running a business. There are just too many Mac apps out there, and most of the twenty-something-million Mac users out there have no idea that your application even exists!

three legged stoolYesterday, Seth Dillingham mentioned the idea of a three-legged stool. The pieces you need are Engineering, User Interface, and Marketing. I was intrigued by that idea so I dug around and found that the metaphor was discussed in Chapter 2 of the 1998 book The Invisible Computer by Donald A. Norman.

Human-centered development requires three equal partners, three legs to the triad of product development: technology, marketing, and user experience. All three legs provide necessary and complementary strengths. Weaken one leg and the product falls. The three legs stand upon the foundation of the business case and support the product itself. Weaken the foundation of sound business practices and the company may not succeed. And finally, the product must be appropriate for its position in the technology life cycle. An emphasis on technology is inappropriate for products in the consumer cycle of a technology.

The chapter is worth a read. It goes on to distinguish the earlier phases, when engineering can be more prevalent, but later on, user experience and marketing are more important.

How balanced is your company's stool?

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