David Heinemeier Hansson

February 23, 2021

Less software

As a software maker, it's rare you'll hear customers ask for fewer features, fewer options, or really any degree of less software. The customers you'll hear from are the people who want more. And if you juuuust add that one extra thing (or ten!) they'll stay or they'll signup or they'll upgrade or they'll tell their friends (and if you don't...).

But everyone usually wants a different thing. So the total sum of everyone's wants is a lot of software! Very often, too much software.

Less software only has one champion: you, the maker. You can't ask customers for just how much less they'd actually use, you can only show them.

I was thinking about Less Software a lot as we were making HEY World over the past two weeks. First, because I just wanted get this thing done, so I could start using it. Second, because the reason I wanted to use HEY World, and not something else, was because everything else felt like too much.

Here are some of the things HEY World doesn't do:

  1. Use spy pixels to track email open rates.
  2. Collect analytics of any kind on the web.
  3. Send cookies.
  4. Use JavaScript.
  5. Accept comments.
  6. Count likes.
  7. Push social sharing.
  8. Curate or amplify the writing on a platform.
  9. Enable personalized designs.
  10. Attempt monetization of any kind.
  11. Push a popularity scoreboard (or even reveal subscriber counts).

In return, you get a simple typewriter with which to reach the world. One that is far less intimidating than most social publishing platforms that turn you into a gamified CONTENT PRODUCER from day one. Where you're supposed to constantly be hustling to get people to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, AND HIT THAT BELL ICON. Or feel bad about the fact that you only have a few followers – and that everyone else can see that you only have a few.

I get that this is the game if writing or creating content (gawd I hate that word) is what you do for a living. And there are plenty of platforms that'll cater to that crowd. HEY World is catering, first and foremost, to our sensibilities for less software. To writing for the sheer joy of it. Even if nobody else, or just a few, might read it.

That's enough.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.