Why is 37 signals so arrogant?

If your going to say things like:

“Arrogant is usually something you hurl at somebody as an insult … But when I actually looked it up — having an aggravated sense of one’s own importance or abilities’ — I thought, sure … Call it arrogance or idealism, but they would rather fail than adapt. I’m not designing software for other people, I’m designing it for me.”

– David Heinemeier Hansson, 37 Signals

… then your probably going to get upset people … like Don Norman, who lambastes 37 Signals in his latest blog post.

I have used some of 37 Signal’s products and I have to agree with Norman when he says that:

I’ve tried their products and although they have admirable qualities, they have never quite met my needs: Close is not good enough.

I’ve always struggled with BaseCamp for example, it almost there but just not quite … I always put my frustrations down to the fact the tool was designed to be simple, but after reading some of Hansson’ statements I begin to see things slightly differently.

When your designing products for a large user base you can’t ignore the users. I find myself agreeing with Norman’s final observation:

Understanding the true needs of customers is essential for business success. Making sure the product is elegant, functional and understandable is also essential. The disdain for customers shown by Hansson of 37signals is an arrogance bound to fail. As long as 37signals is a hobby, where programmers code for themselves, it may very well succeed as a small enterprise with its current size of 10 employees. I’m happy for them, and for the numerous small developers and small companies that find their products useful. But their attitude is a symbol: a symbol of eventual failure. Too bad. In fact, that attitude is not so much arrogance as it is selfishness: they are selfish. A little less arrogance and a lot more empathy would turn these brilliant programmers into a brilliant company, a brilliant success.

1 thought on “Why is 37 signals so arrogant?

  1. I totally agree, Basecamp is a great product, but it’s not quite the one that I need. In fact, it’s really hard for me to find the ideal software for my activities. For example, I spend like 5 months before I actually found the project management tool, that I could use and that would suit me completely. BTW – here it is, in case you’re interested – http://www.wrike.com/

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