- User goals are different from business goals: e.g. A business wants software to do the accounting, but the user using the software probably cares more about not feeling stupid while doing the accounting and wants to avoid mistakes so he can get done and go home early.
- Design as a competitive advantage: if users are passionate about your software they'll stick with it even when the competition catches up. Look at how Apple users supported the company during the Mac/PC wars. Design is the only way to make user passionate (i.e. satisfy "wants" vs. "needs")
- Software needs to be polite: this is the part of the book I enjoyed the most. The way to satisfy the users' personal goals (i.e. not feel stupid, get done quickly, feel productive etc.) is often to build software that is polite. He goes into behavior that is "polite" and how you can build it into a product.
- A great framework to evaluate a product is to use Larry Keeley's Capability-Viability-Desirability model. Capability is what the product can actually do (typically coming from engineering), Viability is getting the business model/pricing/market etc. right (typically coming from the business team) and Desirablity is understanding what people really, really want (not just need - and this is where Design comes in.)
- Feature lists and negotiating over which features stay in or out doesn't make much sense... even though everyone does exactly that.
- "Launch and iterate" is really broken even though not enough people notice this.
- Talking in generics about the "user" hurts. Engineers (in particular) are conditioned to think about edge cases and in product discussions the user expands (e.g. "What if the user does this or wants that") to the point that you can't have a meaningful discussion about product behavior. Use personas instead, and always anchor any product behavior discussions around those personas.
- This is hard to get right, but there are some great case studies in the book of how this can work.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…