Usage patterns, or why you need to support alternate modes of interaction

Posted on April 28th, 2007 in Catalyst, Product design by siddharta || 4 Comments

One of the dangers of developing an application is assuming that all your users are just like you.

Case in point: The Silver Catalyst tool that I am currently developing.

Imagine for a second that your team is using Silver Catalyst. They have entered all the data into the tool and are using it regularly. At the end of the week, an executive asks for the status. Because Silver Catalyst is a web app, the PM figures that the executive can just login to the tool anytime they want the status, and therefore creates a login for him. A couple of days pass and the executive asks for the report again.

Guess what? The executive never logged into the system! The PM is now back to taking data from the tool and preparing a report.

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The power of ownership: Why themes matter

Posted on January 31st, 2007 in Product design by siddharta || No Comment

Theming, the ability to change the look of your product doesn’t matter. Right? Wrong!

In one sense, the ability to change the look of your software, the colours and the graphics and the fonts, is the most frivolous of features. It adds zero functionality to the product. Worse, most users are not designers and end up creating terrible themes. Why allow the users to mess it up when you could get your team of ultra-talented desingers to create a look that works for everyone?

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The Long Tail of Features: Why you should make your product hackable

Posted on January 18th, 2007 in Hacks, Long Tail, Product design by siddharta || 7 Comments

Simple or feature rich? Usable or complex? It’s time to address a most perplexing question — Should you make your product simple and usable or feature rich and complex?

On one side are companies like Apple and 37Signals. Give the users simplicity, they say. On the other, Microsoft and most Linux apps. Give the user features, is their motto. And I? I say, hurrah for the long tail.

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