How Do We Judge Our Tools?

Anil Dash posts a little on a new service called Blinksale, which uses a web application to help work with invoices. Blinksale has got a lot of attention – but not, Anil thinks, for the right reasons:

A lot of the links to the service say things like “full of AJAXy goodness!” or “guess how small the dev team was?” or “it’s Ruby on Rails!”. People, this is a tool for helping your business make more money. The criteria for success include things like “It made my client pay faster.”, “It reminded me to collect from someone that hadn’t paid.” or “It reduced overhead in creating an invoice.”. I’m disheartened that so many people, especially those in the design community who are (ideally) focused on creating a good experience for users, don’t judge an application by the goals it’s supposed to accomplish.

Anil’s completely right. There’s a tendency amongst the web/tech community to look at products and services according to a very skewed perspective: not “is it useful? Does it help me?” but “Does it use [insert industry buzzword here]?” It reminds me of the old joke at the expense of the Slashdot crowd that the first post on any thread about new hardware would always be “But does it run Linux?” – even if they were talking about a new, cool Aeron chair.