Visitor-Driven Development

You’re still developing and expanding the weblog/CMS system you use to publish this site and several others. You’ve written about its features and capabilities many times, changed its name many times, hinted at a release many times.

You realize how valuable a tool like this would be to the weblog community (and perhaps the business community too, as they seek out a cross-platform, self-hosting, database-independent, multi-user CMS solution), and, for the record, you are planning to release the thing.

Rather than develop in a vacuum, adding features you feel are important, why not open the floor to your visitors, let them tell you what they want, what they feel is most important to them in a weblog system.

Things your visitors should keep in mind regarding the system’s nature and existing capabilities:

  1. People host it themselves. This means users control it themselves. They either run it on their web-hosting provider, or on their own PC, Mac, or Linux computer. Moving the system from one machine to another is as easy as copying a folder. In fact, you actually have the whole thing installed on your iPod. You can post from anywhere in the world.
  2. People can host their weblog somewhere else. Not just on the machine where the system is installed, but anywhere on the Internet or corporate network.
  3. It’s cross platform. This means it will run anywhere, on any machine, regardless of the operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, etc.) being used, all thanks to a handy web-based interface.
  4. It’s database and web-server independent. You don’t need a certain version of MySQL or Microsoft SQL or Oracle or Sybase. You don’t need Apache or IIS or Websphere. In fact, you don’t need a webserver or database at all — it’s all embedded in the system itself.
  5. It will cost money, but it won’t be expensive. And once someone buys it, it’s theirs just like any other program they’ve installed on their computers. There are no recurring hosting fees or access charges, because people host it themselves wherever they want.
  6. It does normal things, too. Multiple weblogs, multiple users, multiple templates, RSS feeds, image management, etc.

So, with all that in mind, what additional features or capabilities are important? What would make your visitors want to use it instead of all the other options? What would make it worth the money?

Please discuss.

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