21 January 2009

Be nice.

I swear, guys, I must use the phrase "Everything Communicates" three times a week. Well, that is the theme of this post. Almost at my quota.

Let's pretend you are a software engineer. You have started two web sites that are very, very awesome – many of you reading this probably use at least one of them. Now let's pretend a very nice man named Franz wants to start using one of them – it will make his life easier and more organized. But: he is using Internet Explorer on a PC and can't figure out how to install the bookmarklet in his tool bar. He writes you an email asking about this ("Any suggestions?"). He gets the following response:

Yup: Firefox.

Seriously, I hate to be so abrupt. But getting the bookmarklet installed in IE is such an incredible pain that it's just impossible for me to help guide anyone through. There's just not enough time in the day, and I haven't used IE in years, so I really don't know enough about it to debug the problems that arise. Sorry.

Now... true, Firefox is pretty damn awesome. I am so into it that I forget that lotttttts of people out there still use IE. But seriously: this sentiment could be taken so differently if it went something like, "Oh, try Firefox, it's really the best for my app. The browser was created from something that was open source, so they understand guys like us. It also crashes less frequently, it's faster, etc." Instead, the email is read as, "I actually don't hate to be so abrupt; my app is only for the cool kids; everyone else is a waste of my time."

Getting someone excited about an option is so much more effective than trashing its alternative. Kind of reminds me of something I learned at Adcenter: Instead of calling something a challenge, think of it as an opportunity. Same thing, different way of looking at it.

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