Experience is Everything, Forget Features

When looking at technology it’s very easy to get caught up in the features that are on offer.  We should however be considering another aspect of the piece of technology which is the experience.  Instead of asking the questions”

“What features has it got?”

“What can it do?”

We should be asking the questions:

“What problem of mine is this going to solve?  How well is it going to solve it?”

“How is it going to solve it?”

“How much effort is going to be involved to use it?”

“What is the interface like?  Is it intuitive enough?  Is it powerful enough?”

Looking at and comparing a list of features isn’t going to necessarily answer these questions.  However looking at a list of features can be more exciting.  It is very hard for the packaging and marketing of a product to answer these questions for you.  You are going to have to put some effort in in considering these.  The results should be well worth it however.

To give you an example,  I have a Motorola Razr2 V8.  It has several plusses and minusses to it but overall it fits nicely into my workflow.  For me all the phone had to do was manage calls and SMS effectively.  I don’t need internet,  I don’t need multimedia capabilities,  I don’t need any of that other stuff.  When considering a phone,  all of those features mean nothing to me.  All I am concerned with is how well the phone is going to allow me to perform the tasks I want to perform.   One of the major plusses is the SMS messaging on the Motorola phones.  I really like their predictive text,  and the fact that they will learn my habbits and predict whole words for me.  I researched a few different brands and couldn’t find any that made writing as SMS as easy.  Their SMS capability is well thought out and blends together into one overall experience that makes writing easy.  The features themselves are nice however it is the way they come together that makes the product polished.

On the flip side the phone has some minusses.  Two of the major ones are the single button on the right hand side and the touch sensitive front screen.  The button on the right hand side is useless.  All it does is activate the voice recognition.  Voice recognition would be nice except that it takes forever to load and is rather innacurate.  As a feature it sounds great.  In practice it is too much effort to be worthwhile.  It is much easier to do things the old fashioned way.  The other gripe I have is with the front touch screen.  This had the potential to create some nifty UI however has only been used to perform a few functions when using the phones media player (which is hopeless and drains the battery rather quickly so it’s not worth using).  As features both of these sound great.  In reality neither of them add anything to the experience.  So it was a bit of a pity but when looking at the big picture neither of thse got in the way of allowing me to make calls and send SMS so they weren’t a problem.

Some things to consider:

  • The features might sound good but is the interface going to allow you to easily take advantage of them?
  • The features may sound nifty but at the end of the day are they going to help you perform the given task any better?
  • The features may sound great but how well are the features actually implemented?
  • Are the features necessary?  (A product that is designed to a better workflow may well be able to do a better job despite having less features)
  • Are the features integrated to work together (that is to say,   is the overall experience solid and polished)
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