I think the trouble with this advice is, when you’re developing a product, isn’t not really clear which attributes are key. You have a hypothesis, but you could easily be wrong.
Or perhaps this advice could be interpreted as: decide on your hypothesis, and go all in on it, and only it. If you’re right, it’ll turn out well (as discussed in the article) and if you’re wrong you would have failed anyway and you probably fail quicker following this advice.
In the case of Gmail, he spent countless hours sitting next to Google colleagues at their desks, watching them use MS Outlook throughout their work day, and asking them why they were using it the way they were and figuring out what could be improved.
Then when he had a first working version of Gmail, he'd get people to use it and watch intently to figure out how they responded to it, what they liked/disliked, and how it needed to be improved further.
(The first version was mainly just a search box for PB's email inbox. The first thing he was told that needed to be improved was that it should be able to search the user's own inbox instead. But it was still a useful test; they loved the search experience enough to want it for their own inbox.)
Anyway, there was every opportunity to chop and change what the three key attributes should be along the way; the point is to not try and be all things to all people and build every feature anyone ever asks for, lest you end up with your own equivalent of the Homer car.
If that isn't clear, you're missing the "doing deliberate research" part of such a venture.
Research doesn't just mean to read stuff.
I was working on a ancillary product connected to my employer's main product a while ago. It was barely done, missing a lot of features but they wanted to ship it. I was all "ok but .."..... and the folks who wanted it ate it up. No complaints about all the missing tidbits I was thinking of, not a peep. As far as adoption went, it didn't matter. I probably could have spent a month or more longer on that stuff, but it wasn't what was important to get started.
Should a record be updated or a new version inserted? Hard or soft deletes? Creating a column for each setting or have a JSON blob?
No one answer is correct for every situation. You can be future proof, ready to implement reporting/backup and restore/power user features when the time comes, or setting yourself up for pain.
I hate it because it's true.
Show me one product that could achieve this? Never have I ever seen something that executes that particular step well.
So I vote against 'average user experience' aka dumbed down and locked down crap.
Firefox of the past maybe, when it allowed unsigned extensions. AFAIK now it isn't possible in non-dev version.
Others I have not heard of/not used.
I think the unstated “first version” part is important. You should be gradually adding the missing parts. And not just leave it at the great, simple but missing too many things state forever.
The large format was awkward to hold as a content consumption device, and while it could have made for a neat content creation device, that never became a mass-market phenomenon. Later, smaller models were then eclipsed by phones that grew in size. Then, recently, the line was repositioned to import some more traditional computing expectations, after the Surface line proved that there was demand for that paradigm.
If you squint, you'll notice that the iPad wasn't a failure, but the critiques leveled against it at the time that challenged whether consumers would recognize that an iPad was something they needed turned out to be right. Those who waited and never bought an iPad were rewarded by phones that grew in size until they could reliably satisfy much of the iPad's usecase. Those who used the iPad for content creation found that software was a significant part of their workflow, which translated poorly to competing platforms that later emerged to innovate with hardware -- so their long-term retention was a blend of lock-in and merit.
At first, the high price of the product initially contributed to a significant self-selection of its customer base -- by dissuading unsure prospects from an impulse buy; but this gatekeeping effect was lessened when smaller, cheaper models were introduced later. Gmail achieved gating through invitations; Facebook achieved gating through requiring an ".edu" email address. The iPad, Gmail, and Facebook all benefited from the marketing value of gating, but in the latter two's case, the network effect kicked in in earnest once the gating was lifted. In the iPad's case, once less-invested people began buying iPads, that now-shifting market of people began moving closer and closer to the consensus that it's simply a Really Big iPhone, with all the benefits and drawbacks that come with that.
I'd generalize that lesson to say that your product must appeal to a self-selecting, highly-invested fan, so that it's profitable to solely cater to them and ignore everyone else. Then, to survive an intentional or unintentional pivot to a more mass-market appeal, your product must readily offer a smooth and coherent way to satisfy a set of usability needs people currently have. Gmail, Facebook, the iPod, and the iPhone did this, but the iPad fell well short.
Microsoft is trying to hit two products at once, and (to a degree) the desktop mode is still strong, but the tablet mode just isn't. It gives me more respect for Apple's decisions than I previously had.
Even today, Gmail doesn't do a lot of things that Outlook does like rendering web fonts / inline calendaring, but I still vastly prefer Gmail (even with the new clunky UI) over any other client
Also shoutout to Paul for envisioning the iPad as a quarantine savior in 2010 haha
Hotmail had a very low quota, somewhere in the 1 MB to 10 MB limit, so users had to delete an email before sending a new email. lol.
That was the motivation for most users to switch, not "because gmail is fast," despite the humblebrag.
The search bar was nice but would have been pointless in hotmail where you were forced to delete your old emails anyway.
That is to say your success is relative to your competition (and sometimes all solutions are "not good")
This advice seems to me like the parallel for enterprise products.
I consider myself lucky that I don't have to use very much software at work that was chosen for me by a CTO, or, worse yet, a CFO, or other executive.
And, this is about a piece of software that's fundamentally just about producing documents for people to read. You know, text, and the occasional picture or graph. Excel is worse: never become known as the person who "knows Excel" in the office, unless you want people bugging you forever about it.
Why do so few software projects ever reach a state that's considered "finished," anyway?
The same goes for UI designers who keep reinventing the wheel in different ways or devs who keep refactoring the same functionality from monoliths to microservices and back.
In an ideal world, the company owners (those who would financially benefit from reducing ongoing development costs) would be up to date enough to realize the product is "done", but in all but the smallest companies there are too many layers between them and the products for them to make this assessment accurately.
I tend to write all my software as “finished.” Even my WIP projects are of “finish” quality, quite early in their development, so they become quite useful, quite quickly; even if only for parts to be cannibalized. Some are destined to lie fallow, as I learn more, and render them obsolete.
I wrote this in another post:
Shipping is boring.
Ever watch a building go up? A good prefab looks complete after three months, but doesn’t open for another nine months. It looks awesome and shiny, but is still behind a rent-a-fence. What gives?
That’s because all that interior work; the finish carpentry, the drywall, the painting, etc., take forever, and these are the parts of the building that see everyday use, so they need to be absolutely spot-on. The outside is mostly a pigeon toilet. It doesn’t need to be as complete; a solid frame and watertight is sufficient. They just needed it to keep the rain out, while the really skilled craftspeople got their jobs done.
I like to make stuff polished, tested and complete. I don’t like making pigeon toilets.
I think this is the cause and its effect in one.
We generally all agree that all software has bugs. We know the march of time and changing of standards means software will need updates to stay relevant - whether making it work on newer systems, following "better" UI trends, handling new file formats, etc.
So you're going to need maintenance.
But your maintenance team will suck if they only touch the code once a year. They'll take forever and add more bugs than they fix. So you keep a team around and you have to give them something to do so they stay on their game. Ergo bloat.
The resulting blank space left for actually typing something with every feature enabled: zero.
Often they were subcontracted out, even by name-brand companies, and the result was a security bugfest. In particular, I'm thinking of one that starts with Y.
Keynote is fun, compared to PP, but it’s a fairly typical Apple product, with a few, highly-polished features, a prescribed workflow, and difficult to repurpose.
It just didn’t have a couple of crucial features that I needed, like being able to treat individual build steps as phases of the presentation.
I dream of dumping PP, but Keynote isn’t the one.
I do like this guy, though. I feel as if the tech industry could benefit from more people like him.
I know you said "so few", not 'none', but let's take a minute to acknowledge TeX here.