Tuesday, 7 April 2015

on focus and context

If I told you that I had worked on a successful product over the past 10 years - going from development and implementation of features to now being responsible for specifying on how parts of the product should function -  then it should not be surprising that during that time period I have revisited features to either renew the interface or back end processing. Here are a couple of areas where I have found that you need to be extra vigilant.

Be in the present 

Although you have knowledge about the original use case, be careful to remember

  • not to fight the battles of the past - take note of current context
  • or to solve the problems of the past - the world is (probably) a different place now
  • You ain't gonna need it yet (YAGNIY) - solve the problem you have now

One thing I really like in this area are Job Stories and the way in which they lead you to start with context and look forward to outcomes.

Keep it focused 

This feature works and is being still being used, why is that? I look at these things to keep a focus on where the value is
  • what works - how has this feature been successful?
  • what didn't turn out as expected? - and is it needed anymore?
  • is there anything that could be tweaked to make it simpler?
beware the "wouldn't it be nice if ..." conversations unless you can tie the suggestion to solving a current issue or making the feature simpler to use or even more "valuable" to the user.

Example of focus

One feature that I didn't work on, but you can see (well in the UK anyway) is in the Sky+ smartphone app. For those that don't know, the main premise of this is that you can access your setup box on the go as if you were in the room. For example, check the listings and then watch or record.

Basically all the other features as the same as using the set top box remote - the one that isn't activated by the camera icon on the screen shot on the right. This allows you to share photos from your phone on the TV screen via the Sky box, as long as you are accessing wifi from the same network as the set top box.

Given how different this feature is from the rest of the app I can't but help think this was one of those "wouldn't be nice if ..." features.

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