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Getting Real

The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application

Introduction chapter 1

  • What is Getting Real?

    A smaller, faster, better way to build software

  • About 37signals

    Our small team creates simple, focused software

  • Caveats, disclaimers, and other preemptive strikes

    Responses to some complaints we hear

The Starting Line chapter 2

  • Build Less

    Underdo your competition

  • What’s Your Problem?

    Build software for yourself

  • Fund Yourself

    Outside money is plan B

  • Fix Time and Budget, Flex Scope

    Launch on time and on budget

  • Have an Enemy

    Pick a fight

  • It Shouldn’t be a Chore

    Your passion — or lack of — will shine through

Stay Lean chapter 3

  • Less Mass

    The leaner you are, the easier it is to change

  • Lower Your Cost of Change

    Stay flexible by reducing obstacles to change

  • The Three Musketeers

    Use a team of three for version 1.0

  • Embrace Constraints

    Let limitations guide you to creative solutions

  • Be Yourself

    Differentiate yourself from bigger companies by being personal and friendly

Priorities chapter 4

  • What’s the big idea?

    Explicitly define the one-point vision for your app

  • Ignore Details Early On

    Work from large to small

  • It’s a Problem When It’s a Problem

    Don’t waste time on problems you don’t have yet

  • Hire the Right Customers

    Find the core market for your application and focus solely on them

  • Scale Later

    You don’t have a scaling problem yet

  • Make Opinionated Software

    Your app should take sides

Feature Selection chapter 5

  • Half, Not Half-Assed

    Build half a product, not a half-ass product

  • It Just Doesn’t Matter

    Essentials only

  • Start With No

    Make features work hard to be implemented

  • Hidden Costs

    Expose the price of new features

  • Can You Handle It?

    Build something you can manage

  • Human Solutions

    Build software for general concepts and encourage people to create their own solutions

  • Forget Feature Requests

    Let your customers remind you what’s important

  • Hold the Mayo

    Ask people what they don’t want

Process chapter 6

  • Race to Running Software

    Get something real up and running quickly

  • Rinse and Repeat

    Work in iterations

  • From Idea to Implementation

    Go from brainstorm to sketches to HTML to coding

  • Avoid Preferences

    Decide the little details so your customers don’t have to

  • “Done!”

    Decisions are temporary so make the call and move on

  • Test in the Wild

    Test your app via real world usage

  • Shrink Your Time

    Break it down

The Organization chapter 7

  • Unity

    Don’t split into silos

  • Alone Time

    People need uninterrupted time to get things done

  • Meetings Are Toxic

    Don’t have meetings

  • Seek and Celebrate Small Victories

    Release something today

Staffing chapter 8

  • Hire Less and Hire Later

    Add slow to go fast

  • Kick the Tires

    Work with prospective employees on a test-basis first

  • Actions, Not Words

    Judge potential tech hires on open source contributions

  • Get Well Rounded Individuals

    Go for quick learning generalists over ingrained specialists

  • You Can’t Fake Enthusiasm

    Go for happy and average over frustrated and great

  • Wordsmiths

    Hire good writers

Interface Design chapter 9

  • Interface First

    Design the interface before you start programming

  • Epicenter Design

    Start from the core of the page and build outward

  • Three State Solution

    Design for regular, blank, and error states

  • The Blank Slate

    Set expectations with a thoughtful first-run experience

  • Get Defensive

    Design for when things go wrong

  • Context Over Consistency

    What makes sense here may not make sense there

  • Copywriting is Interface Design

    Every letter matters

  • One Interface

    Incorporate admin functions into the public interface

Code chapter 10

  • Less Software

    Keep your code as simple as possible

  • Optimize for Happiness

    Choose tools that keep your team excited and motivated

  • Code Speaks

    Listen when your code pushes back

  • Manage Debt

    Pay off your code and design “bills”

  • Open Doors

    Get data out into the world via RSS, APIs, etc.

Words chapter 11

  • There’s Nothing Functional about a Functional Spec

    Don’t write a functional specifications document

  • Don’t Do Dead Documents

    Eliminate unnecessary paperwork

  • Tell Me a Quick Story

    Write stories, not details

  • Use Real Words

    Insert actual text instead of lorem ipsum

  • Personify Your Product

    What is your product’s personality type?

Pricing and Signup chapter 12

  • Free Samples

    Give something away for free

  • Easy On, Easy Off

    Make signup and cancellation a painless process

  • Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for Kids

    Avoid long-term contracts, sign-up fees, etc.

  • A Softer Bullet

    Soften the blow of bad news with advance notice and grandfather clauses

Promotion chapter 13

  • Hollywood Launch

    Go from teaser to preview to launch

  • A Powerful Promo Site

    Build an ace promotional site that introduces people to your product

  • Ride the Blog Wave

    Blogging can be more effective than advertising (and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper)

  • Solicit Early

    Get advance buzz and signups going ASAP

  • Promote Through Education

    Share your knowledge with the world

  • Feature Food

    They’re hungry for it so serve it up

  • Track Your Logs

    Study your logs to track buzz

  • Inline Upsell

    Promote upgrade opportunities inside the app

  • Name Hook

    Give your app a name that’s easy to remember

Support chapter 14

  • Feel The Pain

    Tear down the walls between support and development

  • Zero Training

    Use inline help and FAQs so your product doesn’t require a manual or training

  • Answer Quick

    Quick turnaround time on support queries should be a top priority

  • Tough Love

    Be willing to say no to your customers

  • In Fine Forum

    Use forums or chat to let customers help each other

  • Publicize Your Screwups

    Get bad news out there and out of the way

Post-Launch chapter 15

  • One Month Tuneup

    Issue a major update 30 days after launch

  • Keep the Posts Coming

    Show your product is alive by keeping an ongoing product development blog post-launch

  • Better, Not Beta

    Don’t use “beta” as a scapegoat

  • All Bugs Are Not Created Equal

    Prioritize your bugs (and even ignore some of them)

  • Ride Out the Storm

    Wait until knee-jerk reactions to changes die down before taking action

  • Keep Up With the Joneses

    Subscribe to news feeds about your competitors

  • Beware the Bloat Monster

    More mature doesn’t have to mean more complicated

  • Go With the Flow

    Be open to new paths and changes in direction

Conclusion chapter 16

  • Start Your Engines

    A few closing thoughts

  • 37signals Resources

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