The so famed Spotify agile model with autonomous teams (well, guilds actually because teams doesn’t sound that cool) was never fully a reality at Spotify itself and yet is being copied by so many companies. While there’s a lot of issues with that model, the one that I’ve experienced the most while working with it it’s the assumption that everyone are good at collaboration. Well, they aren’t, it’s a skill like any other and it’s not a given. And while I still think autonomous product teams are a good idea, I also think that for it not to fail you have to understand that collaboration won’t happen automatically, it has to be a careful and methodical effort to practice and master collaboration product wide.
“Become smarter in 15 minutes a day”, “Learn a new language in a week” or “Get fit in 14 days” - some of the value propositions of today’s apps.
In product design & development we strive to build experiences that are easy to use and simple to understand, and that’s great! But is there a danger in oversimplifying? What kind of lasting effect can simplified, “everything’s under the hood” type of experiences have?
A designer & writer Ralph Ammer explores these questions in his nicely illustrated piece bellow
Why are original Post-its yellow? Is it for visual ergonomics, usability maybe? Is it part of 3M brand style? There must be well thought through reasons behind it, right?
Well, here’s what Dr Geoff Nicholson (now retired VP of research & development at 3M) said when asked to explain his and his team decision - “We had some scrap yellow paper!”
That’s it. It is an accident, a coincidence that post-its came out yellow. It wasn’t designed, it just happened and people at 3M rolled with it.
Read a full interview with Dr Geoff Nicholson and see how nonchalant and funny he is about one of the most iconic accidents in product development.
As product development continues to shift more and more towards business-centered rather than human-centered design, removing “friction” becomes one of the key aspects of product optimization.
Reducing “friction” pretty much means minimizing the cognitive load and number of steps a user has to take to reach the goal. However when you look at that goal from a business perspective it’s usually a conversion (most often some sort of transaction) and to get their users to that goal as quick as possible businesses are inclined to remove all friction blindly. The problem with that is that not all friction is bad for the user.
Let me quote AirBnb’s design manager Steve Selzer - “...when we remove friction, we also remove moments for serendipity and self-reflection. At scale, this can erode our social values and increase our tendency toward intolerance and impatience, leaving us with a lack of resilience and an inability to navigate change.”
Also one of the best examples of increasing instead of reducing friction comes from the same AirBnb - one of the last steps before you book a place is to send a personal message to the owner of that place. From a business perspective it’s absolutely not necessary and creates friction in the most important user flow of the product. But would they have decided to remove it or put it somewhere else they wouldn’t have built such a trusting community and wouldn’t have such a successful product.
So be thoughtful with reducing friction and keep in mind that if used correctly and with the right intent it can actually benefit both your users and your business.