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What Features Do You Actually Need


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#1 Adrian

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 08:12 AM

More gems from the end of a Cathy Sierra post.

The best trick we know for finding the meta-level is to play the five-why's / why-who-cares-so-what game. Ask your users (or even just yourself) what's important about a product. When they answer, ask, "Why?" When they answer that, say, "So?" and when they answer that, say, "Who cares?" and keep going until you get to the heart of it. (And if you haven't played this before, most people stop WAY too early and miss what matters the most.) Only then do you discover that this feature the users--and you--believed to be meaningful was simply a tolerable way to do what they really wanted. When they say that X is important, dig deep enough and you might find that it was only because X let them do Z, and that there's a much better way to make that happen.


It's always interesting to think about what you think users want, what users say they want, and how those 2 things compare to the things the users really want. Because a users comments are based on their previous experiences, and they might just not be aware that there are other ways to do it.

I like the idea of not only asking people want they want form you, but interrogating them about it, to find the source of that the desire, the actual real goal they are trying to achieve, rather than the process they are expeting to take to get there. They are likely to say things that are familiar to them, but perhaps work more efficiently for their specific needs.

It may be you can completely restructure things, bypass certain areas, in a way that users don't realise until they use it.

#2 cre8pc

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 11:59 AM

Adrian, you just continue to amaze me with your capacity to keep on learning <_<

Your questioning reminds me of a Constantine article I blogged about yesterday, that also gets us thinking differently. By asking questions and continuing to look at new ways at doing what might seem like routine, we can develop a more critical eye and produce better end results as a result.

Designing Web Applications for Use

What should be the real focus of your design efforts?

The all-too-easy, politically correct, user-centered answer is that the whole of the user experience needs to be addressed, that the target audience must be understood in all its human richness, and that every aspect of the experience needs to be designed. But a growing number of forward thinkers in the field are recognizing that too much attention on users as people can lead designers to miss the main point, which is not the users themselves, but what they are doing and trying to do in the context of the larger activities in which they are involved. Designing for use rather than for users is a way to focus design more sharply.



#3 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 12:08 PM

There's certainly an issue with focusing too much on what the users want - rather than making sure that what they need to do is easily accomplished. The number of websites which have said "our users want to be able to play with this fancy ajax swirly thingy in the middle of the page" instead of "our users need to be able to register for our site without having an epileptic fit triggered by this fancy ajax swirly thing in the page."

Sometimes, in development, it's easy to do some user testing and take suggestions and just excuse yourself by saying "well, the users wanted it," despite the fact that it may be a) useless, B) irrelevant or c) harmful to other users experiences.

I love Cathy's blog; it's just filled with pithy and valuable statements like "why who cares so what" that just dig right down to the meat of the question without dancing around the issues. <_<

#4 TCSM

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:18 AM

ASK campaigns, as I've heard them called, have proved invaluable to me. In marketing anything, you'll almost certainly know what it is you need to actually give to the consumer, but finding out what they WANT can be a completely different kettle of fish. I've tended to stick with the John Childers method of sales:
Sell the what they want, give them what they need.

Actually, to be more accurate, give them both. But make sure that they get what they actually need. There are a lot of products out there that don't actually give anything other than feel good factor, which is all well and good, but doesn't help. On the other hand, there are too few products that really give great value for money.

It's kinda like the old benefits/features thing. Sell the one, give the other. Anyway, that's my two cents...



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