Matt Gemmell

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Podcast for Application Developers

development, interface & podcasts 2 min read

As you might be aware, I have a recurring segment on the MDN Show podcast from the Mac Developer Network, where I talk about issues related to application design, development and usability.

My segment is entitled “The World According to Gemmell”, and I’ve been meaning to post summaries of the content of past segments for a while now. It’s a Sunday morning and I’m having some coffee, so this seemed as good a time as any. You can subscribe to the podcast using iTunes (or just search for “MDN Show” in the iTunes Store), subscribe via RSS, or you can download each episode (as an M4A audio file) directly from the relevant posts on the MDN blog, which I’ll link below.

Just one brief note before the list: given the focus of the MDN web site and podcasts, I tend to use occasional examples from the world of Mac and iPhone software, but I believe that the segments apply equally to any other platform. I purposely avoid getting much into platform-specific details where possible; my position is that principles of good application and interaction design are inherently portable.

Here’s a quick run-down of the segments so far (note that the segment started in episode 2, and that I was on vacation during recording for episode 8, hence those two episodes don’t appear in the list). Please remember that my segment (usually lasting around ten to fifteen minutes) is only one part of each show; there’s a wealth of content to be found.

  1. "Develop separately" (from MDN Show episode 2). The benefits of developing software components in separate projects, particularly if they're intended to be reusable.
  2. "Design less" (from MDN Show episode 3). Why your goal should be a smaller set of features, each of which is as compact as possible.
  3. "There's always room for one more" (from MDN Show episode 4). Don't be discouraged if someone has already made your application; it's the approach and user experience that count.
  4. "Software omnipotence" (from MDN Show episode 5). Even if your application uses a real-world interface, don't be constrained by the physical limitations of the real world.
  5. "Keep a design log" (from MDN Show episode 6). The development and marketing benefits of keeping a log or diary of your design decisions.
  6. "Design away errors" (from MDN Show episode 7). Recovering from user errors should be a fall-back position; design your application to make errors impossible in the first place.
  7. "Give your users a fair trial" (from MDN Show episode 9). Thoughts on how to be fair to your users when imposing limitations on the trial or demonstration version of your application.
  8. "Go for goals" (from MDN Show episode 10). Focus on your user's actual personal goals, rather than the tasks he must perform to reach those goals.
  9. "Work your data" (from MDN Show episode 11. Leverage your user's data, computer environment and likely goals to make your application more helpful.

I’m always eager to hear feedback on the segments, and to continue the discussion. You can provide feedback in several places: on the MDN blog itself, via the comments system in the iTunes Store, via my Twitter account, leaving a comment on this blog, or by contacting me directly (here are my contact details).

The last three methods are best in terms of guaranteeing I see your comment in a timely manner, but please also show your appreciation to the MDN folks for all their hard work. I’m always delighted to hear feedback even if you disagree with me, and suggestions for future topics are most welcome.