Letting your users kick ARSE

Kathy Sierra has written a marvellous article about software (or products) and features, why some succeed and some fail, and why we should do some developments and not others.

Critical questions we should be asking in product design are “Why are we doing this” and “What will our users get from this?”.

If the answer is not “so our users can kick ass” (OK, she’s American, they don’t know it should be arse) then you have to question why you are doing it.

Now that I think about it, where I work most of the things we put into the products we design, have this as an ultimate reason. The method of “kicking arse” varies of course…

Why are we adding some of the current crop of features to our software?

So our customer can commission a site faster. (And do more jobs & make more profit, or bid cheaper, or go home earlier to see his/her family).

Why did we add some new features to some of the hardware / firmware products we sell?

So our customer can offer something that looks nicer to a home owner – less wall-acne. (The home owner has less unsightly gunge to look at every day.)

I’m pretty happy after reading this article that the approach we are taking for product development is generally heading the right way… very little we do is for its own sake… most is based around getting a sensible answer to the question “what benefit will our customers and users get from this?”. It’s not quite so hard-hitting as “so xxx can kick arse”, but the principle is pointing in much the same direction.

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