All of us have used physical and digital products that we have favored one over the other. We may not have always consciously given a thought about the ‘Why’ and may have just continued using it since it fulfilled all our needs -actual purpose, emotional, social etc. Now as I am slowly dwelling into the design world through my studies, I realize none of this is random. There is a conscious or subconscious decision why we like “A” over “B”. And the intent of these decisions or choices is to make our life easier.
A good product is like a well-made movie, something that we like watching once, admire the work by the actors or the plot or some aspect of it, and then get on with our lives.
A great product is also a well-made movie but one which we would like to watch over and over again. It makes us desire for more than one view, or in this case more than one use. It stays on your mind and you want more of it. You are tempted to explore more of its features, maybe install on your phone and see how you could incorporate it into your life. That is the power of great product.
But what makes a product ‘great’?
A good product must deliver on these 3 features —
Functionality — A product should be able to fulfill the tangible and intangible needs of the user. Humans should find a use for it, be it functional, social or emotional.
Usability — An easy to use product will put less cognitive load on any user, have a small and smooth learning curve, thereby improving its desirability
Reliability — A buggy product will cause frustration and eventually lose its user base. Humans do not want to deal with issues if there are alternatives and in today’s world, almost every product has a viable alternate option.
“What makes great products truly stand out from alternatives in the marketplace is that they don’t just deliver on any one of these five dimensions, they deliver on all of them.” Jeff Weiner,CEO at Linkedln
But a great product must deliver on these 5 specific dimensions on top of the above 3 components-
- Delivers on a singular value proposition in a world-class way
- Simple, intuitive, and anticipates needs
- Exceeds expectations
- Emotionally resonates
- Changes the user’s life for the better
I will not dwell into them here but included a reference link which is a good read. But you get the idea — For a product to be “great”, apart from addressing the current needs of the user, it should be proactive in assessing user’s future needs, be adaptable and maintain a positive relationship with the user.
As I traverse deeper and deeper into everything related to design, I am able to appreciate more of the good design existing out there in this world. It is exciting to be able to recognize why I like a particular product or app. The awareness in itself fills me with a sense of achievement and feeds the logical part of my brain.
One perfect example of a digital product that is so simple yet has gained outstanding success is WHATSAPP. It is my lifeline to the outside world.
Before Whatsapp, I recall using yahoo messenger(yes, those were the days!) and Orkut on the web to chat with friends. And SMS was the only way to send texts on the phone, which was again additional charge. There wasn’t any quick and easy way to instantly connect to people.Whatsapp was an innovative app built primarily for the mobile platform and gained tremendous success in a very short period of time. It was successful in many ways , notably— offered frictionless on-boarding process and provided a Perfect platform for texting.
Whatsapp piggy banked on the existing contacts and instantly connected the user to other Whatsapp users from his contacts. This was critical in helping it reach that mass network effect within such a short period of time. The users are the marketing agents and helped in promoting this app all across the globe, without the need of a giant marketing campaign! It was an innovative strategy by the founders and wildly successful.
The best feature I love about Whatsapp is its simple and intuitive design. Once the app is installed, all one has to do is find the contact and send the message through the app. Once a connection is made on Whatsapp, there is no further need to open the Contacts again for that particular user. The main purpose of Whatsapp is to network, and it permits that wonderfully. Sending and receiving a message is a breeze, and now making audio & video calls has taken it a step further. One just needs to ensure a reliable wi-fi or data connection and you are set! There is no dependency on mobile carrier. One can also share different media files on Whatsapp.
Another main feature is the ‘Group Chat’. A maximum of 256 members can be added to a group and this proves to be very useful networking tool for school parents, communities, school alumni, specific set of friends etc.
One of the most annoying features for me on any app is the advertisements and other pop-ups which distracts me and often hampers my overall experience. The absence of these on Whatsapp makes it my number#1 chat app.
Warning: The downside of having such a convenient networking app is it is easy to develop addiction for it and keep texting more than recommended :-)