Alpha is a small, opinionated software company remotely based in Illinois and North Carolina. We make Carbon; online invoicing software for small businesses. Whenever we feel like we have something worthwhile to say, we'll blog about it.
Selfish design. We have a really simple philosophy when it comes to designing products; we design them for ourselves. We don't ask customers what they want or do market research. Instead, we ask ourselves thousands of questions and make a ton of tiny decisions. It's chaotic, but eventually, we arrive at a product that we're proud of. If we've done our job right, there will be others who've got a problem and will love our solution. Those are the people we want as our customers. It also means that our products aren't going to satisfy everyone and those people will end up with our competitors; we're fine with that.
People not "users". Who shops at a bakery? People do. Who goes to the movies? People do. So why is it the norm for the software industry to call their customers "users"? It just doesn't make any sense to us. On the surface it sounds like an argument of semantics, but its a level of abstraction that doesn't leave room for empathy. Who does their invoicing on Carbon? People (with good taste) do.
Boring is beautiful. Trends come and go, but usefulness is always in style. We tend to get so seduced by new and flashy, that we tend to forget about the "boring" things in our life that we depend on to make civilized life possible. Think: toilet paper, socks, coffee mugs, etc. We don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about these things, but without them they can easily change the quality of our lives. We make those kinds of products.
Less, but better. People often think by having a lot of choices and a lot of features, the product is more valuable. We don't agree. Let's say a product ships with a 1,000 features. Realistically, how many of those features are most customers going to use? Probably about 10 of them. Then why not just build a product that does those 10 things and do them exceptionally well? By shipping less, we can clarify ideas further and make the product more enjoyable.