experience is the product

November 14, 2008

Came across this wonderful presentation on product design by Peter Merholz of Adaptive Path. Please take some time to go through it as it will certainly be useful to you at some point in your career.

Here are my notes from the presentation. These points would be much more clear if you see the presentation where Peter gives some very interesting examples to support it,

  • Don’t focus on technology or features. Focus on the experience that you want to create and then build a system that gets you there
  • Technology as a product design strategy can be used on ly when the technology is disruptively new! e.g. First generation word processors were very difficult to use. You needed to remember many commands in order to work with it effectively. But because they were technologically far superior than the alternative “type writer” of that era, they became popular.
  • Once technology becomes standard, we tend to compete on features. And there are numerous examples where competing on features has been taken to the extreme. One such example is Microsoft WORD. A very good example of this phenomenon is VCR. When VCRs first came out, for the first time they allowed people to record live TV. This made them very popular. As years passed by VCR got bloated with features. So much so that people could not even program it anymore. So adding more and more features actually caused the decline in VCR usage. (Then came TiVo that once again revolutionized ease of use when it came to recording TV programs!)

Some take aways from the presentation,

  1. Designing from outside in…Christopher Alexander says, to design pathways first put the lawn in place, then see where people actually walk and then add paving!
  2. Create an “experience vision” statement. e.g. Palm Pilot vision was,  a. Fits in shirt pocket, b. Syncs seamlessly with PC, c. Fast & easy to use and d. cost less than $299. Concise and clear vision that made Palm design a compelling one.
  3. Leverage the System! This one is my most favorite! System as a whole does not get simpler however the experience of using the module of the system become much more enjoyable. e.g. iPod only allows you to do basic things like browse, play, rate audio songs. For everything else such as creating actual playlists you have to use iTunes. Thus Apple simply leveraged the system to remove unnecessary complexity from the everyday use of the product, iPod and the rest is history!

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Changing the world, one light bulb at a time!

November 5, 2008

Here is an invention that will boggle your mind. These are the new light bulbs that are use virtually no electricity and they last for 50,000 hours. (That is 6 years of continuous operation!)

The fins on the light bulb are actually designed to allow heat to dissipate. These bulbs are designed by the company LightingScience. Each bulb costs over $125 each!!! Before you jump to conclusion that you will never buy such an expensive light bulb, consider the fact that you will save enough electricity in 7-8 months to offset the price. In addition you will NEVER have to replace it! I remember solving industrial engineering stastistical problems that dealt with the cost of changing light bulbs for large companies. Because cost of changing light bulbs is very high, it is actually very routine to change them even when they are not completely worn out. This is a huge wastage! Using one of these bulbs you are virtually eliminating the need to change light bulb ever!

When I look at this new invention from my product management hat, it is such an iconic example of doing new product development. When doing new product development, it is very essential to have a fresh perspective and not hamper your creativity based on what exists today! Only when you avoid the trap of doing something similar to what you know or see around you, then you can create something truly disruptive and revolutionary!

Let me know if you think you would buy this product at this entry price tag. Do you love your planet enough to take the plunge? 🙂