One more observations... the feature driven design is typically the tactic of market followers and sometimes the short sighted market leader. Most times, market leaders understand that they must add capabilities (read as the benefits of those features) and not just bells and whistles. Food for thought.
On Thursday, August 23, 2007, at 03:23PM, "Andrei Herasimchuk" <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>On Aug 23, 2007, at 11:46 AM, Michael Micheletti wrote: > >> Not so everywhere. When the eagerness of technologists to show off >> capabilities joins forces with the eagerness of product managers to >> add more >> features to product checklists, a sort of synergy happens that >> seems very >> different from UCD. Without a deep human perspective on who uses your >> products, and how they do, the temptation is to add more features. >> I've come >> to dread the words "this is cool" when spoken by engineers, because >> they >> inevitably come accompanied by a new screen full of configuration >> parameters. > >My first piece of advice, if you don't mind, is to stop dreading the >words "this is cool" from engineers. You should be just as jazzed as >they are by the cool technology things they are cooking up. I always >enjoyed getting messages from various Adobe engineers on all the >product teams saying, "Hey Andrei... come check this out! I've got >something to show you." I always knew there'd be something there that >would be fun to work with and design. As for product managers, >well... I'm the worst person to ask about anything to do with PMs >since I'm usually the guy they hate the most on the project. (I'm >always the one pushing back at them to stop making the interface a >dumping ground for features.) These days, I enjoy checking out the >various cool stuff all the engineers cook up with our various >clients. I find it to be one of the more interesting parts of my job >now as I get to see more technology outside of the computer imaging >world. > >That said, the way I found to keep some semblance of control over >allowing the features get away from you was to use "alpha testers." >I started using this approach back in my early days at Adobe, where I >basically convinced the product teams to let me have 4 to 7 users >sign extremely nasty NDAs and once they did so, they became part of >the team. What that meant is that once a customer became an alpha >tester, they had access to literally everything we did on the >project. Documents, crude alpha builds that crashed often, >screenshots, email threads of everyone on the team arguing over the >design, etc. Their feedback at that level always kept the "feature >driven" problems in check and brought it back to reality in my >experience. > >I encourage and try to implement this approach with every client >Involution works with. Some of them can make it happen, some can't. >The ones that can make my life easier as a designer as it provides a >nice reality check during the design process. The ones that can't for >a variety of legitimate reasons (sometimes legal, sometimes cultural) >require us to find news ways to deal with that lack of feedback. > >Are alpha testers a UCD methodology? I don't know, probably. Back >when I was doing it in 1995, I didn't care. I just did it because >that's what I do as a designer. I get feedback and iterate and build. >I do it over and over and I involve as many people as I can get away >before some lawyer finds me and tells me I can't do it anymore or the >executives tell me I have to stop and ship. > >I also do feature driven design as well. One doesn't exist without >the other. Ever. I'm not sure how its possible to operate designing >"for users" without also design "for technology." In graphic design >terms, I think that's like trying to design a poster based solely on >the grid and compositional elements with no regard to the content's >message and what the poster is communicating. Or vice versa. > >It simply seems impossible to me, both have to happen. It's also why >I tend to find the label "user centered design" to be flawed because >semantically, as a label, it's inherently exclusionary. >