Chapter 18. Designing for usability

"The operation was a success, but the patient died"

Here's a tragic outcome to a smartphone development project:

  • Your team manages to keep to the requested timescale

  • You deliver software with low defect count

  • The software fulfills the specification that was given to you

  • But the product fails to sell well in the shops.

In summary, the project was a success, but the product was a failure. In medical terms, the operation completed successfully, but the patient died.

As a special case, it's possible that your product appeals to so-called "early adopters" and "technology enthusiasts", who give it good reviews, but this interest fails to translate into mainstream sales.

So, despite what you'll often hear, keeping to the project plan isn't the most important priority. The most important priority is to deeply satisfy customer needs.

In practice, what this means is that you must augment your existing best practice on smartphone project management with the following five principles:

  • Invest in world-class product managers and account managers, who can accurately distil, and even foresee, customer requirements

  • Build sufficient slack into your schedule and resourcing plan so that, when your product management team feed late-breaking new market requirements to you, you can accommodate them within the project plan

  • Pay attention to the importance of cosmetics and other aspects of graphical and emotional appeal – these can make all the difference as to whether a user finds ...

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