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Joel on Software


by Joel Spolsky
Thursday, August 10, 2000

Setting up PaxDigita

Over the last few days I've started working furiously on setting up PaxDigita, a software company based in New York City.

That's not going to be the real name. I'll tell you the real name as soon as it's been through the trademark search.

I visited a place called TechSpace which provides temporary offices and business services to high tech startups. Sounded good. But the offices were tiny and crowded. I know the real estate market is tight, but this was ridiculous. They had two kinds of offices: "cages" and "bullpens". Very funny. Can you imagine trying to hire the world's top computer scientists to work in "cages"?

The Nielsen|Norman Group

If you asked experienced UI designers to list the world's top names in UI design, you would get surprisingly similar results. Norman. Laurel. Tognazzini. Nielsen. Those four names are probably everybody's top four. They are the writers of the four best UI books that have ever been written.

It seems to have escaped everyone's notice that all four are working together now, at the Nielsen|Norman Group. This is an incredible dream team. Imagine the Institute for Advanced Study in the forties when Einstein and Feynmann were there. Now imagine if Newton and Kepler were there, too, and you get some idea of how exciting this is.

P.S. The books are:

The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman

Tog on Interface, Bruce Tognazzini

Art of Human-Computer Interface Design, Brenda Laurel

Designing Web Usability, Jakob Nielsen

These four books are the "Great Books" of UI design and should be required reading for every software engineer and UI designer.

Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Trello and Fog Creek Software, and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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