J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Value is the Short-Cut for Building Better Products

Value is the Short-Cut for Building Better Products

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It's easy to build what's possible.  It's tough to build what's valued.

If there's one thing I've learned from shipping stuff, doing competitive assessments, working closely with customers, and doing a lot of in-depth feature analysis ... it's that value is the short-cut for building better products.  If you know what's valued, then you can target that.  And, the surprise is, less is often more.  (A little gold, beats a lot of junk, every time.)

I've also learned that value is in the eye of the beholder.

What's valued can surprise you.  For example, one customer might value integration, while another customer might value, and pay for, simplicity.  One customer might value security, while another might value usability.  Value is a slider scale and there are always key trade-offs that impact the design.  That's the art part.

It's easy to assume you know what's valued.  Here's the irony.  It's also easy to check your assumptions.  Customers are happy to tell you whether they prefer A over B.

Missing the boat on what's valued is one of the worst mistakes.  It's easy to build the wrong thing.  It's also to build something irrelevant.  It's also easy to build “bloat”-ware, where the product is too many things to too many people, and master of none.  Less is more, especially when you solve the problems that people actually care about, and when you enable users to have a great experience achieving their goals.

Here's the message:  "Do overs" are expensive (if you even get a second chance.)  You don't have to build things that people don't want.  You don't have to build things that people don't value.  You don't have to build things that people won't pay for. 

You can test the value, early and often.  And, that's what some successful shippers do that other shippers don't.