We Buy on Features, We Derive Satisfaction on Usefulness
Bringing Products to Market
I am a product guy at heart. Most of my working life has been spent around the world of bringing products to market. This includes everything from thinking up the product, designing, developing, testing, presenting, selling and ending the product's life. Through it all, I have to say the hardest part is figuring out the right combination of features to offer the customer in the right interface without over featuring the product to the point of uselessness. As humans, we buy on features but we derive satisfaction on usefulness.
There is a big difference between features and and usefulness. In many cases the more features, the less useful the product. Take photocopiers for example. In fact, please take our photo copier. It rarely works. It has hundreds of features, many of which I don't understand. As I pondered the latest failure of our copier the other day, I wondered if the reason it failed so often was a direct result of all the features in the product. Did they just try to do too much within the confines of the box?
Simplicity Leads to Usefulness
There is a great book on simplicity that I find myself going back to over and over. It is titled The Laws of Simplicity and it is written by an amazing man named John Maeda. In his book, John covers many key aspects of product design and how to make products simple. I will not go into the laws here, but what John covers is really how to enable features into a product in a way that you find it useful on an ongoing basis. Two great examples of this type of design thinking are the Google search interface and the Apple iPad.
Now if I could just get one more feature in the photo copier, the one that would make it work!