I’ve been working on developing a functional spec for an application over the past couple of weeks. It’s something I’ve done for most of my larger projects because it helps me organize and think through the design, but the one I’m doing now has to be interpreted by other people. So I’ve been doing a little reading on the subject to make sure I knew what other people might expect and ran across the site Joel on Software, which has several years worth of interesting, highly readable articles on software development strategies.
Naturally, he has an article — actually, a series of articles — on why functional specs are useful, what should go into them, and who should be responsible for them. I don’t agree with everything he says, but there is a fair amount of decent information there.
One thing that did catch my eye, though, appears in the example spec he links to from the articles. It’s a humorous example, written nearly six years ago, for a web site that tell users what the time is. Here’s his description of the site’s splash screen:
An annoying, gratuitous Shockwave animation that plays stupid music and drives everyone crazy. Splash Screen will be commissioned by a high-paid graphics animation boutique in a loft in Soho from people who bring their dogs to work, wear found objects safety-pinned to their ears, and go to Starbucks four times before lunch.
After the animation has played for about 10 seconds, a link that says “SKIP THIS” will fade into view in the bottom right corner. To avoid people seeing this and clicking on it, SKIP THIS will be so far down and to the right that most people won’t see it. It should be at least 800 pixels from the left border of the animation and 600 pixels from the top.
Clicking on SKIP THIS goes to Home Page. When the animation is complete, it will redirect the browser to Home Page automatically.
If Marketing allows, we should deposit a cookie on the user’s computer if they click SKIP THIS which will cause the animation to always be skipped in the future. Frequent visitors should not have to see the animation more than once. I talked to Jim in Marketing about this and he’s going to take point in convening a committee of Sales, Marketing, and PR to discuss.
Does that “annoying, gratuitous” description of an intro animation sound familiar? Does it sound like Shockwave? Or is it possible that even someone who worked in the software industry at a fairly high level was confused enough by the Macromedia/Shockwave/shockwave.com marketing strategy to call a Flash animation “Shockwave”. Pretty funny, eh?