Quality: An Introduction [Application to Shareware]

[continued from Quality – What is it?]

Application to Shareware

With a working definition of quality, we can attempt to apply this concept to shareware. In this case, the viewer is primarily our potential customer, but it also refers to the press, our possible detractors, and anyone else who can be influenced positively or negatively by any interaction with us, the creators and operators.

The first thing to realize here is that the perception of quality is not limited to our software or services. It encompasses every interaction we have, whether or not we are aware of it. This means our web site, our documentation, our press coverage, and our conversations on unrelated public newsgroups. It even extends to items we cannot directly affect, such as word of mouth, so it is important to convey quality in the arenas that we can control.

It is definitely important for developers to have a quality product, and just the basic issues related to that are a whole separate article. In general, though, this is accomplished by having the fundamental skills, testing, using good programming practices, testing, utilizing available tools and resources, and conducting more testing. Without a good product, the rest of the discussion of quality is basically moot.

Having a quality product, however, is just the beginning. All venues for communication must have similar standards. The documentation should be clear, easy to use, and fully proofread. The product web site should be informative and not appear to be an afterthought. If a phone number is published, that phone should be answered professionally. The ordering process must be straightforward and foolproof.

The pursuit of quality is a mindset that one can choose to adopt by simply refusing to be satisfied with work that is substandard. This mindset should encompass all of the above, plus any other items that could adversely impact the perception of either the product or of the company as a whole.

[continued in Crafting Excellence]

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