On craftsmanship and turning customers into fans

“Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things.”
— Lawrence Bell

This morning, while I was getting ready for work, I picked my French Soccer jersey from a pile of clothes I had laundered last week and I noticed this, right behind where the Crest for the French Football Federation (facing outwards) sits on the chest of the jersey …

Turns out it  means “our differences unite us“.
Tres inspirer.

The quote sits right above a player’s heart while they have the jersey on (presumably striving for their country at the same time), and it hits so close to home on the issues the French have had historically, dealing with diversity, that I imagine a player would have a hard time forgetting it once they’ve seen it. Its also put in a place where jersey makers typically expend the least effort (Adidas is notorious for this, some of their replica jerseys are so uncomfortable because the insides are horribly tailored). Its the perfect blend of sentimentality and craftsmanship.

Needless to say, I’m a little bit more of a Nike and French Soccer team fan than I was yesterday, and all because of a silly little thing like an inspiring message on the inside of a soccer jersey.

It got me thinking about a Steve Jobs anecdote I had read a while ago.

In an interview a few years later, after the Macintosh came out, Jobs again reiterated that lesson from his father: “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood in the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

How does this apply to software?

The little things matter. The craftsmanship of your product, the care you show on tiny things like 404 pages, error messages, and page layouts looking perfect in all browsers … or even unseen things like formatting your code beautifully, or leaving instructive comments become part of the dna of your creation; that intangible signal of ‘high quality’ and sentiment that draws people in without them knowing why.

Its just the sort of thing that might turn a customer into a fan.

PS: A fantastic place to see brilliant little design touches, pertaining to software is Little Big Details.