Lately I’ve taken to playing Words With Friends, a Scrabble game for the iPhone. One of the first things I learned from playing against good players is that Scrabble is not about showing off your good vocabulary, it’s about turning the tiles you draw into points. A two letter word that nets you 31 points because you dropped a Q onto a triple letter score to make the used-only-in-Scrabble word “QI” is better than busting out a 6 letter word nobody’s ever heard of that nets 18 points.
I thought about that when I read Rands’ interview with Marco Arment about Instapaper, and being a one-man software development shop. Here’s what Arment says about making it as a sole proprietor:
The biggest design decision I’ve made is more of a continuous philosophy: do as few extremely time-consuming features as possible. As a result, Instapaper is a collection of a bunch of very easy things and only a handful of semi-hard things.
This philosophy sounds simple, but it isn’t: geeks like us are always tempted to implement very complex, never-ending features because they’re academically or algorithmically interesting, or because they can add massive value if done well, such as speech or handwriting recognition, recommendation engines, or natural-language processing.
Both are nice reminders that efficiency is one of the keys to success.
Be sure to read the explanation of how the Instapaper bookmarklet works, as well. It’s a marvel.