Feature Addictions

Man oh man, so many interesting stories from the conference, I feel bad leaving the geography post up front and center for so long. Big big study at work next week, but I should get back to some stories soon. In the meantime, waxing poetic on features.

What matters to the software consumer today? Pine and Gilmore published a book on the Experience Economy , which was scripture for Dr. Wagner’s students back at UNO. Applying the notion of an experience economy to software is a big part of the reason why job titles in usability are changing from “Usability Engineer” and “Interaction Designer” to “User Experience Researcher” and “User Experience Designer.” OK, so that’s the case at Microsoft, but I see it happening elsewhere too.

Of course marketing isn’t far behind, with more experiences being marketed than individual features. What still shocks me is that was the first to widely market the notion of user experience. Have you seen the commercials?

Vehix helps customers find a car near them for a price they can afford. How do we improve that user experience?

Yesterday was Microsoft’s company meeting, where they encouraged us to use Windows Live , which is pretty actually pretty cool. I stumbled across Office Live , which has tools that enable individuals and businesses to publish websites. But look at how it’s being marketed (check the tabs): Overview, Features , and Common Questions. The same with a recent marketing campaign where Microsoft pits Visual Studio against Dreamweaver. A comparison of 101 features . I dare you to watch them all.

I hesitate to insist that “experience” is any better than “feature” (unless you’re a User Experience advocate who can actually define “User Experience” in 15 seconds or less). Trading buzzwords gets us nowhere. But as the workers who are customer-facing, it makes sense to ask: What matters to the software consumer today? Is it really features?

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The conversation continues...

  1. On September 22nd, 2006 at 10:47 pm, Jason Uher said:

    I’d have to say, no.

    If anything I have a feature-phobia. The problem, I find, is that software companies focus so hard on the 101 features that they fail to properly address problems with the core of the software.

    I’d rather have 101 pieces of software that work well than 1 piece of softare that does 101 things poorly.

    I think programs like Gaim and Firefox do the feature thing well in that they have a very extensible plugin interface. That way, 101 people are responsible for 1 feature each, one piece of software does everything well, and everyone’s happy.

    Wow thats long. sorry.

What do you think?