Friday, February 17, 2006

Why features don't matter

This is an interesting article from eWeek, taking about how features don't matter as much as the user experience. In a nutshell, Andreas Pfeiffer says: 1) More features isn't better, it's worse. 2) You can't make things easier by adding to them. 3) Confusion is the ultimate deal-breaker. 4) Style matters. 5) Only features that provide a good user experience will be used. 6) Any feature that requires learning will only be adopted by a small fraction of users. 7) Unused features are not only useless, they can slow you down and diminish ease of use. 8) Users do not want to think about technology: What really counts is what it does for them. 9) Forget about the killer feature. Welcome to the age of the killer user experience. 10) Less is difficult; that's why less is more. Let's face it: it's usually harder to do simple things exceedingly well than to just pile up features. If we can keep these points in mind when we are introducing technologies to people then we may have a chance at getting them to use them in a way that is productive for them. But, at the outset we are saddled with all the poor design, UI "features" that some spec sheet fluffing marketing person has convinced the engineers to include. So when taking a new user by the hand (or the scruff of the neck as the case may be) we have to remember to show them only what they need to know to get the things that they need done, done. This has to be the most basic and repeatable process, otherwise the new user will be confused and likely give up on the tool. Extra features should only be brought out when the user is ready for them. So if we want people to start to use a video camera - then just show them how to shoot and preview on the camera - that is all they need to do as all the "extras" are truly useless - even though that will not stop companies from adding them. From the camera, they need to see the easiest way to get the video to the computer and edited using a few basic rules and techniques. After doing the basics enough, they will be ready to go on and explore on their own. I don't think any of this is rocket science, but it's nice to see other sources verify the model that we use here. Technorati Tags: