Sunday, February 10, 2008

UED in tech

Silicon Valley is very much about coming up with new things and creating new markets often through technology. This is a different challenge then trying to break into a existing market through an evolution of market. One of the things that the makers must demonstrate is that the new technology can work and demonstrate it's usefulness. To do that means the 1.0 release must be stable and "just works".

I often see teams trying to build the "perfect" product with the "perfect" interface as part of version 1.0. Engineering attention is taken away from the product technology and stability to focus on the UI. Everyone wants to have the best product out there, but in a new market nobody knows what "perfect" or "best" means since nobody has experience with it. It's just better to make sure that what is built is built solidly and be flexible about making user experience improvements iteratively (which is easier to do in software then hardware).

Personally, I believe that User Experience and Design (UED) plays an important in product development. As Apple has shown, a good design can help take a product to the next level. However, I also feel that too much focus on UED can sometimes hurt innovation (non-UED type innovation) of a new product type. Apple didn't invent the mp3 player. It allowed the mp3 market to develop and once the world has come to accept the need for mp3 players, Apple build a product with a design and interface that dazzled and became the leader.

So folks, if you're trying to enter an existing market, take the time to examine the competition, don't make the same mistake and improve on what is out there. If you're trying to create a new market, put your resources into making the first launch stable and useful so you can grow the market.

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