Response: Splash screens == sloth

I was reading my favorite news aggregator this morning and an article from assertTrue() popped up about splash screens and bloatware. The summary of the article is that applications are slow to start and that is disrespectful to the user.

I think he makes a great point – why does Photoshop need to load every plugin and typeface when the very first thing I am going to do is either open a file or create a new one? There optimizations that can be done to allow me to get to work faster.

But that is not why I’m writing this.

I agree with the author but what stuck me were the comments on his blog. Most were either “You’re going to be fired” or “Buy an SSD”. Is that the best people can do?

Here is what is wrong with the first-world-problem style comments and buy-an-ssd nonsense – they are blaming the user! In this relationship, the user is the man with the money and the software is providing the service. They have the relationship backwards – the software exists to serve me. Imagine going to a restaurant and blaming the customers for the wait.

The problem is that everyone who is commenting is not a product person. We use Adobe products because there are no good substitutes. We use Windows for exactly the same reason. Yes, buying faster storage will help, but why not make the product better? Why not care what the customer thinks? Why not serve him(her) faster?

I finished Steve Jobs and it has this fascinating anecdote in it:

“If it could save a person’s life, would you find a way to shave ten seconds off the boot time?” [Jobs] asked. Jobs went to a whiteboard and showed that if there were five million people using the Mac, and it took ten seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to 300 million or so hours per year that people would save, which was the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes saved per year.” [Engineer, Larry Kenyon] was suitably impressed, and a few weeks later he came back and it booted up twenty-eight seconds faster,” [Bill] Atkinson recalled. “Steve had a way of motivating by looking at the bigger picture.”

If the product sucks – fix it. Blaming the user is for angry software engineers who don’t care about the final product.

And to the commenters who say he is/should be fired – you really missed the point.  Here is someone who cares about the product and the user experience. These are the people you want on your team.

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