What is it that makes your product distinctive?
In the recent copy of the Hong Kong British Chamber of Commerce magazine there is an interview with Fergal Murray, the Master Brewer for Guinness. He is asked “what do you think it is that makes Guinness so distinctive?” He replies,
I think there are a number of elements. From the brewers point of view, we want you to have a great all round experience. We don’t just want you to have a beer that’s refreshing, we want you to have an experience, to go through the ritual and theatre of emptying that glass. We want there to be a visual impact as well, it has to look fantastic. Finally, there’s a lot of flavour…
And you thought you were buying a pint of the Black Stuff because it was refreshing and tastes good. Yet for the Master Brewer these are bottom of the pile. Most important is the experience.
This is something that is missing in much software development. There are very few master brewers who go beyond just satisfying their customers with features and functionality, to focus upon delivering “a great all round experience”. To turn the mediocre and mundane into theatre. Like Apple have done with the iPhone. Like Guinness do with their stout. Yet something gets lost as you move away from the strategic owners of the Brand, to those responsible for tactical implementations. And this loss can obviously be costly. If the Guinness Master Brewer was only responsible for a drink that is an acquired taste, would it still be the sixth top ranked global Beer brand?
No it wouldnt be. But in between Software Development and User Experience is the missing discipline of Design. When people talk about User Experience, the recollection is either of a lo-fi prototyping model, a result of collective brainstorming or focus group interviews. User Experience actually needs to be a result of a design process which comes from having the right goals to deliver, not just a bunch of clueless users having a go at screen design.
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