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Product design secrets: Don't try to be perfect, just be good enough

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Robert Capp’s article from Wired magazine last August, The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine, offers a fantastic synthesis of what many product and services companies have been finding over the last decade: Less is more, especially when it comes to whistles and bells.

The Flip’s success stunned the industry, but it shouldn’t have. It’s just the latest triumph of what might be called Good Enough tech. Cheap, fast, simple tools are suddenly everywhere. We get our breaking news from blogs, we make spotty long-distance calls on Skype, we watch video on small computer screens rather than TVs, and more and more of us are carrying around dinky, low-power netbook computers that are just good enough to meet our surfing and emailing needs. The low end has never been riding higher.

Robert Capp, Wired

To be sure, no consumer wants to feel like they are settling for a product that was designed to be “just good enough.” Instead, people want a product that’s easy to use, does what it says it will do and does so reliably. The trick is identifying a market or market segment where a subset of the “conventional” feature set will work just fine. It’s what former design firm, now software company, 37Signals calls “underdoing the competition.” The team there chalks up the success of its suite of web-based small-business applications to having built less. The right less, mind you.

About the Author

Marc Escobosa

As the lead designer for nearly all major releases of the Arena application from 2001 to 2012, Marc played the chief role in crafting the user experience for all Arena ...

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