SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: eliminating ideas that don'
Re: SIGIA-L: eliminating ideas that don't benefit the user
From: George Olsen (george.olsen_at_pobox.com)
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 20:49:13 EDT
At 2:24 PM -0700 4/26/01, christina wodtke wrote:
>Turns out a way you can get funding from VC is to have more features.
This is a common "marketing" problem. Good marketing people know people buy
*benefits* not features. However, it's a lot easier to sell features than
benefits, so all too often marketing is done that way. At worse, marketeers
scumb to the thinking that the best product has one more feature and costs
one dollar less than its competitors.
This isn't to slam marketeers, because the good ones can be really helpful
and can be good allies if you present user-centered design in terms they
understand. But this is the sort of real-world push-and-pull that IAs run
into -- which is why its good to learn the thinking and language of the
other people you deal with.
Tucking stuff away for (often-time fictional) "power users" is a good way
of comprise. Another tactic is to bring up the argument of whether they'd
rather have 100% of their users 50% happy, or 50% of their users 100% happy
(those people who are actually gonna to use the essential features).
This is actually an argument about branding -- and good brands are the
focused ones. Quick, think of BMW. You probably thought of "the ultimate
driving machine" because BMW has keep focused on that for years. Now think
of GM. You probably didn't have nearly as clear an image, because GM's
extended its brand so many times it's lost its meaning. Good branding isn't
just about the swoosh, it's about the total experience someone has with a
company and its products. Needless to say user experience is an important
part of branding (but not all of it, because branding also includes stuff
like pricing that's beyond our scope).
Personas and scenarios can also be useful for pruning away unnecessary
bells and whistles. Since you've got a very targeted demographic, you're
ahead of the game, because it means you got a clear idea of what your users
are like and what they're trying to do. By identifying and prioritizing
these people's key goals -- and the tasks needed to accomplish the goals --
you should show how the other stuff is irrelevant.
If you can do any sort of user research, that ought to be helpful --
especially a card sorting, where people can rank what features they want.
There's nothing like seeing several groups of users saying they don't care
about something to kill that feature.
Along those lines, you could make the argument that by focusing on the
features people care about you're actually *increasing* the benefit despite
fewer overall features -- because you're making it easier for people to use
the ones they care about. In "Inmates are Running the Asylum," Alan Cooper
cites a product where he helped a client remove some features and when user
tested, people actually thought there were more features. Which in a sense
there were, because there were more *usable* features.
Another tactic, is once you've got some evidence to show that certain
features are not important, is do a cost benefit-analyis -- "It will cost
$x, and y amount of time to build a feature that only z% of users even
cared about." You don't necessarily have to tell them to kill the feature
yourself, just note how the time and money might be used elsewhere. Since
projects are almost always overschedule and overbudget, it's a good way of
letting things die without actually having to kill them.
Finally, figure out if you can phrase these arguments so you that the
person in charge looks good if the changes are made. As a consultant, you
always want to make the client become a hero within their own organization.
'Course it does sound somewhat like you're designing the personal home page
of the person in charge of the group, which can be problematic. However,
you might try (delicately) to get allies from some of the other people who
might have a say and who may be able to change the course of these. In
essence, you *are* trying to go over the head of the person in charge, so
needless to say, proceed carefully....
Unfortunately, organization politics are some of the toughest issues to
deal with. And as a consultant you can only offer your advice, you can't
force a client to act on it.
George Olsen george_at_interactionbydesign.com
User Experience Architect 310-403-0301
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:37 EST