Why are we all feature crazy and forgetting the user?

Recently I've been reading quite a bit of reviews and comparisons. For instance the heated debates on the Apple iPhone versus the Google Nexus One or the Microsoft BPOS versus Google Apps and I can only make one conclusion: Everybody is completely feature crazy and completely forgets about the user.

The reviews do a great job listing the differences into the smallest details. This is of course important, but only should be a small part of the review. In the end it should be about the end user, its behavior and how it best fits with their emotional being.

I'll give you a few examples
1. If you want to brag towards your friends on mega bites, pixels, MHz, processors go for the Nexus One. If you just want to pick up a nice girl in a bar go for the iPhone
2. If you use one laptop and think Microsoft Office is the best productivity tool since sliced bread. Go for Microsoft BPOS. However if you use multiple devices from many different vendors the web based Google Apps might be a better solution for you.

Software and devices should be more like fashion. Some clothes keep your warm, while other allow you to show off. We personalize what we wear and dress for the occasion. Let the end users decide!

Image: Photochiel


I think you're absolutely right that too many developers forget about the end user and what they're actually looking for.. but I find sometimes, if you're too interested in what the user wants, that feature-fetishism can work in the opposite direction. I've lost count of how many times I've told a manager, "we should build feature x into the software because of y and z reasons," only to be told, "you're absolutely right, we should. Those are great reasons. However, the client didn't ask for it, so no dice."

I've found the important question isn't "what do you want the product to do", but "what do you want to do with the product". Whether you're asking the client directly, or asking your "inner client", it's still the same. Derive features from use cases. Not "it should have x because x is cool."

(On another note, I just found your blog today, and I really like what I've seen so far! It's hard to find like-minded developers talking on Blogger, so I'm glad I found you!)


@aad: i really like the examples!
@matthew: Users often don't know what they want...everything their neighbours have is better :) But if we ask what they need...maybe it helps..
However, maybe sometimes as developer we trapped in "what we believe" they would need, not the one that is trully come from them

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