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You Don’t Really Understand Your Product until You Put a Prototype in Front of Users

Companies that make great products have changed their perspective on their customers over time. The user experience focus, however, uses motivations, behaviors, and meanings to understand, empathize with, and design for end customers. Good design is humanistic based in a empathetic understanding of the end user , generative able to envision multiple alternatives , and based on making decisions based on design constraints, business objectives, and strategy.


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Begin with the experience you want to design for, and then—and only then—identify the components that will deliver it. Elements of the final system can only be created after the ultimate experience has been envisioned.

Product teams should consider the entire system that must be in place to support and create the desired experience. In order to ensure that everyone in the company understands the desired experience, a clear strategy needs to be in place to help align efforts and assist in decision making. Over-engineering is the flip-side risk to system-based design thinking.

Trying to design each and every element of an environment can lead to a highly brittle creation that breaks when any of its parts does not function as designed. Much like Stewart Brand in How Buildings Learn , the authors point out that design should be flexible enough to accommodate future uses and users.

Reward Yourself

Good design carefully examines constraints and takes into account future opportunities. Ideas are cheap, cheap, cheap; we can think of so many. All too often, though, our organizations treat them as tender, scarce, and special. Ideas live in Power Point presentations, where they are treated like descriptions on the sealed box of a toy.

Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World by Peter Merholz

Everyone reads the packaging but dreams up a different idea of the product or experience inside. Bringing ideas out into the harsh light of day for team examination allows assumptions to be tested and refinements to occur before investments are made. Handling ideas requires a different skill set than daily operations.

In an environment where exploration leading to a dead end is viewed as an expense to be reduced, true innovation is difficult. Adopting the Agile perspective allows product development teams to decrease costs through small batch size, save time by creating less documentation, building essential feature sets based on continuous prioritization. Are you building a platform that can create wow moments over the long haul? The Long Wow is one of the outcomes of a customer experience strategy.


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The Long Wow is created by applying several strategies: 1 know your customer touch points and understand your platform for delivery; 2 draw from areas of continual unmet needs; 3 evolve repeatable processes for delivering wow moments; and 4 stage and plan the wow experiences. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.


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Customer Research

For more than six years, Peter has been instrumental in developing Adaptive Path's ability to provide world-class consulting, training and public events. At Adaptive Path, Peter began with a focus on information architecture, and over time expanded his knowledge to include product strategy, user research and practice development. Peter is an internationally recognized thought leader on user experience.

His blogs and his essays for Adaptive Path demonstrate his foresight on issues of information architecture, organizational change and product strategy. Peter's thought leadership is perhaps best demonstrated in his coining of the term "blog" in when it was a nascent genre. Peter is a passionate teacher, and has traveled throughout the United States and Europe giving one- and two-day workshops on user experience methods and fundamentals.

Todd Wilkens is the design researcher for Adaptive Path. Thanks to over a decade of experience in research and design he holds a passionate belief that focusing on and truly understanding people allows us to create products and services that provide compelling experiences and real value. Todd's work has focused on everything from online communities to digital video to youth, religion, and culture.

He is adept at working with people from different backgrounds to synthesize product, business, technology, and user needs into cohesive strategies and designs. He is also well-versed in social science theory and a wide-ranging toolkit of methods from ethnography and interviewing to statistical analysis and eye-tracking.