People don’t buy features, they buy promises

When creating a product, its easy to be seduced into focusing purely on tangible side; the features, the interaction models, the design. They are important to the success, but they can also blind us from seeing that what customers really pay for.

The promises the product holds out and the experiences that result from using the product.

We buy products because we want to change something in our lives. We want to be entertained, closer to friends, more effective at work, feel different about ourselves. We don’t buy features.

What does your product promise?

Does it live up to its promise?

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Daily list of questions for my projects

For project teams:
  • Is my team happy?
  • How are we performing against our work plan?
    • What impediments do I need to remove?
    • Do I need to reallocate resources?
    • Are we on target to deliver?
  • What coaching opportunities are there?
  • What are we learning?
    • e.g. Have we gotten on smarter on the domain -if so
  • Does the project have maximum impact?
For clients:
  • Are my client’s happy?
  • What are their concerns?
  • Are they engaged?
  • Are they talking to the right people?
  • Do I need to reset expectations?


What are you personal goals for the project?

Do you know your teams goals? Not the typical goal of delivering a project on time and under budget. Their personal goals, what they hope to get out of a project.

Before a project kicks off, I chat with each team member individually to understand their goals. It varies widely from trying out a new technology, learning a new domain, taking more of a client facing role etc. Once I know their goals, it allows me to look for opportunities on the project that align with them.

My experience has been that people tend to make more of a connection with the work. It becomes personal, they push themselves.  It’s not just another project, it’s their goals.


138 years of popular science by Jer Thorp

Jer Thorp walks through his process of how he created a recent visualization for popular science magazine. Part of his process that I find interesting is he says, “This is a really common approach for me to take – building small tools during the process of a project that help me solve specific problems.”

Another interesting point is that is says, “My working process is riddled with dead-ends, messy errors and bad decisions – the ‘final’ product usually sits on top of a mountain of iterations that rarely see the light of day.”

Part of what I love about design is it is about exploring and allowing the process of solving the problem to be organic.

Experience Maps Identify Inefficiencies and Opportunities

An experience map is a holistic view of all of the touchpoints or interactions people have with a brand. It enables you to determine a number of key factors:

  • Frequency and duration of each touchpoint
  • Levels of satisfaction with each touchpoint
  • Points of failure or bad experiences
  • Opportunities to innovate during the experience
  • A foundation for determining the cost of each touchpoint

Read more:


Lessons from Magic Kingdom

The majority of the products and services we use have no lasting impact in our lives, they are a means to an end. We only think about and talk about those that either don’t meet are exceed our expectations.

I noticed a couple of patterns while taking my family to Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

1. Highly orginaized and clean

2. The employees communicate effectivly and are freindly.

2B They are also passionate – people who are not in the parade sing and dance, they want to be there.

3. Easy to navigate around the park, I did not have to think.

4. When they took photos of my kids there was no pressure to purchase them immediately.

5. It is the unexpected that brings delight. Walk down main street and out of no where appears a marching band.

This is the key, it is about exceeding exceptions with the unexpected. That is what creates memories.

Set higher goals for yourself

It is not another project, this one is going to be game changing. It will revolutionize how people think about the subject, change the way they work, shake up the industry and position us as global leaders in the space. People will line up to spend $350,000 for an annual subscription!

Make yourself nervous, uncomfortable and unsure. Challenge your thinking and each decision you make.

Is this product revolutionary? Game changing? Does this design make people think $350,000?

Set higher goals and stretch to reach them.