On "Quality"


Just a reminder to everyone making suggestions:

The definition of “quality” is conformance to [user] requirements.

–P.B. Crosby

The metric by which to measure the value of a change, a feature, a rule, or an option is simple: Is this something of value to the users?

If it is, users will come to you. If it’s not, you’re wasting your time and hurting the project.

If you think your idea is so amazingly great, and it absolutely must be implemented, and all the complaints are wrong, because once they use it they’ll understand how great it is… I have one word for you:



Yes, very good point.

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Clearly you’ve never owned a pet rock before.


“Quality” in software starts at the level of individual code changes. In this context it means “does it work” and “does it break anything”. I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming blog post.

That’s just one perspective though. More directly related to your point:

The metric by which to measure the value of a change, a feature, a rule, or an option is simple: Is this something of value to the users?

This is part of the reason for our petitions process: it allows user requests to determine the broad direction of ClassicPress rather directly. Looking at the top few petitions, we see a clear theme that users want more performance and less bloat:

It’s not a coincidence that this is going to be our focus for v2.


Clearly you don’t understand the premise.

Pet rocks gave the customers what they wanted.

The 70’s was an interesting time which gave rise to odd products like the pet rock and the chia pet. But… that’s because the market wanted these products.

They were “quality” products because they met the requirements of the customers. Those requirements were mostly based on novelty, frivolity, and fun. People bought pet rocks because they were stupid and useless. We’d just come out of (our loss in) the Vietnam War, and we needed a distraction. Pet rocks were so amazingly stupid that they gained attention–and market share–because they distracted us from reality.

They provided a quality product for the intended market. Everyone starting in marketing dreams of creating the next “pet rock”.


TMI. Just a joke.



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Quality for me is not giving customer what he wants. So I can say that since people “want” Tamagotchi, Tamagotchi Is a quality product. WTF?!?!?
Quality is about finding the sweet spot by balancing what customer needs with what he wants, and offering the best service possible with the means, skills and resources I have available.
Just my two cents.
Oh by the way, Tamagotchi Is a Digital Toy involving a person to take care of a virtual pet. Pet is going to diw if unattended… (Don’t know if all you folks know them, here in Italy that really stupid thing was a hit among youngsters and oldsters, everyone wanted to have one for the sake of demonstrating how responsible they were keeping it happily alive).


Good points all around.

I’d like to add that quality is much more than meeting requirements and providing value – consistency and durability surely can’t be overlooked. There are other facets, too. Consider many of the plugins found in the WordPress space – they meet user requirements and provide value, but, once you start digging around under the hood, you realize that the code quality is often limited by a number of factors.

My point is: the term quality is actually referring to level of quality, and the level of quality will be a direct result of how the software comes together on a wide variety of fronts that most end users never notice. The following page offers a palatable summary and describes the standard I’m working toward in Code Potent’s offerings.



Define “best possible service”–that’s just another word for “quality”.

If the customer wants you to give them a product and never be seen again, then anything additional you do is “bad service” (it’s annoying).

And deciding what the customer needs is a minefield (Remember: WordPress decided that users need Gutenberg) which often leads to bloat. The US automotive industry is a perfect example of this.

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What I mean is if the customer asks me to set up a newsletter, I should do the job as best as I can with my skill set and resources, I must present him with at least three solutions to choose from with detailed explanation of what they do in order for him to choose.
Sometimes customers arrive with a “blurry” request, for example, they want to improve their site frontend but aren’t detailing what needs to be changed. That is where I can ask them what they need the site to do and balance it with what they want - they may want a stellar branding as they have seen on another site, but this branding could be the wrong move for them, it’s up to me integrate this want of theirs with the need for the site to obtain certain results. And again is up to me to perform as better as possible. this along with what @CodePotent has outlined in his last post is quality.
Just giving customers what they ask isn’t quality at all. Again, if you as a customer want something useless and stupid like a Tamagotchi, I can’t call the Tamagotchi “quality”. Tamagotchi is performance, that is responding plainly to a request without giving any value.


You’re making assumptions. I’ve worked with a lot of companies doing newsletters, websites, etc. In many cases your method would be wasted effort and frustrating to the client. They want someone to “just do it”. They don’t want choices, they don’t want detailed explanations of each choice. They want an “expert” to make the decisions for them and know that they’re the right ones. A “quality” marketer–for them–is one who steps up, makes the choices, and lets them work on their own business. They would see your way as “poor quality service”.

You’re falling into the trap of thinking that your way is the right way for everyone. You’re confusing “quality” with “best it can be”.

Let me give a real-world example. Razors.

For personal use, I “require” a razor that has a floating cartridge, an open back, a textured grip, a nice heft, and a reasonably-long life. That’s quality for me.

Tattoo shops and surgeries “require” a cheap, single-use razor that gets rid of most of the hair, and has a failure rate of 10% or less. That’s “quality” for them.

It’s giving plenty of value. It’s giving entertainment at a very low price. That’s valuable to lots of people (as shown by the fact that they bought the toys).

NB: “What the customer asks for” is not the same as “what the customer wants or needs”. Don’t confuse the two.

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Well, there are customers who want me to step up. But the majority I have do ask me options. Usually I give options, and point out my suggestion.
What I mean is “quality” is how “perfectly” you do the job. On the newsletter example quality can range from me installing a very poor solution to finding the right one for them. Instead Tamagotchi Is performance of an order. It has no level. There aren’t sophisticated ones and cheap, poor ones. There is just a single thing. So I call it performance of a task. Quality happens when someone decides to build a better Tamagotchi, maybe a metal one, unbreakable. Or one that is water-proof. In an attempt to perform better. But since it’s a cheap performance, there is no need to better perform. So “quality” value is less important than “price”.
What customer asks, wants and needs are three different things. But in a blog example… I always supply a basic skeleton (home, about, services, newsletter/mailing list). Not all customers “ask” for mailing list feature because “they want a way to have customers contact details, but they have no clue on how to do this” and I supply it because I know they may “need” it. That for me is finding a sweet spot among ask/want/need.
In some cases I choose for them, if they are the kind of customer you describe. In other cases I discuss the solution with them. (Majority of my customers are totally able to build the site themselves, but for whatever reason they prefer hiring someone to do the job. They want me to build something I can manage/maintain but also they want to retain control by having the final word on everything. They want options to evaluate, and they want to decide. Sometimes they listen to me, sometime not).


Anyone trying to define Quality needs to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - an entire autobiographical novel dedicated to defining Quality.



@zigpress thanks for the suggestion :smile:.
I think there are so many nuances to this word that sometimes it’s not even possible to translate it properly.


The translation is in the OP: Quality is conformance to [customer] requirements.

I’ve been teaching this lesson for going on two decades. “Quality” is a meaningless word. It is 100% subjective. It’s even a common colloquialism: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

Any discussion of “quality” should be promptly tossed in the trash. When those creating/offering/selling the product focus on “quality” they invariably focus on “more” and “more complex”.

We need to focus on what the clients (users) want and need. Not what we think is best for them, but what they actually want and need.

This comes from asking questions, listening to feedback, looking at data, and accepting what all of that says.

What we think is “quality” (I’ve seen more than one person here insist that “quality must include X”) is irrelevant. The only definition of “quality” that matters is that of the users–because if we don’t give them what they want and need, we won’t have them. Make zero assumptions about what users want. Ask them. Then listen. Then give them what they want and need.

ClassicPress was founded because WordPress stopped listening to the users and decided that their definition of quality was the right one.

Let’s not repeat that mistake.