Category Archives: Interface Design

Why Do Products Fail? – Ignoring Context

Wrapping up the your product failed because you didn’t enable your users to realize value branch of the root causes of product failure, is this article on the context in which your user is using your product.  If you ignore your user’s context, they won’t be able to realize the value you provide – or won’t be interested in solving those particular problems at that particular time.

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Why Do Products Fail? – Forgetting that Users Learn

Next up in the series on the root causes of product failure – products that fail because you have ignored the user’s level of experience.  The first time someone uses your product, they don’t know anything about it.  Did you design your interfaces for new users?  After they’ve used it for a while, they get pretty good at using it.  How much do you think they like being forced to take baby steps through a guided wizard now?

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A Prototype is Worth a Thousand Lines of Code

A picture is worth a thousand words.  A prototype is worth a thousand lines of code.  Two key elements of product management – and of agile development are elicitation and feedback.  Low fidelity artifacts can significantly improve both.  Polished, codified prototypes can create problems that prevent you from getting the benefits of communication.

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Design-Free Requirements

Design-Free requirements are important for two reasons, and hard for two other reasons.

Design-free requirements are hard because you “know what you want” when you should be documenting “why you want it.”  Writing design-free requirements can be hard when you don’t trust your development team to “do the right thing” even though it is not your job to design the solution.

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Agile Prioritization: Which Widget?

Your company is building out a toolkit to support third-party developers.  You’ll need a bunch of different types of widgets – combo-boxes, text entry fields, domain-specific controls, etc.  You’ve got a long list of desired controls from your customers.  You’re agile.  What do you build first?

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Modeling User Competency

Perpetually intermediate (competent) users.  Users who briefly exist as novice users and never become experts. Most of your users are competent, and you should design for them.  Competent users have different needs and different expectations than novice or expert users.  How do you know your user’s competency levels, so you can design for them?

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User Goals and Corporate Goals

When defining requirements, you always start in the context of a goal – either a user goal or a corporate goal.  You need to be aware of both.  Having a positive user experience is important, and requires a user-centered understanding.  Achieving your corporate goals might be in conflict with some user goals.

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Freemium Business Model

Ever scratch your head and wonder why you can use your favorite application for free?  How can a business actually make money (and stay in business) when they offer their product for free?  This article looks at the freemium business model, to see when it makes sense for a company to offer it.  The freemium model is one where the company offers two (or more) versions of a product.  The basic version is free to use.  You have to pay for the premium version.  The goal of this article is to answer the product management question, “Should you create a freemium business model?”

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User Adoption ROI

using or bypassing the software

You want your software to be used, not to sit on the shelf. You can’t achieve the ROI of your software if people don’t use it. And you can’t achieve the ROI of your software by forcing people to use it either.  Some will fail to achieve the benefits, and others will delay using it or refuse to use it entirely.  You have to make them want to use it, and you have to design the software for the users who must use it.  Otherwise, you won’t achieve the ROI.

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Global Actor Hierarchies and Personas

Actor Hierarchy

We use actor hierarchies to organize the different users of a system. Different people play different roles, and thus do different jobs. We use different actors to identify and organize those people. When deploying a system globally, we usually discover people that do the same jobs, but do them differently. Incorporating the notion of personas lets us deal with this.

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