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Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World: Adaptive Path on Design [Hardcover]

Peter Merholz , Todd Wilkens , Brandon Schauer , David Verba
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 26, 2008 0596516835 978-0596516833 1

To achieve success in today's ever-changing and unpredictable markets, competitive businesses need to rethink and reframe their strategies across the board. Instead of approaching new product development from the inside out, companies have to begin by looking at the process from the outside in, beginning with the customer experience. It's a new way of thinking-and working-that can transform companies struggling to adapt to today's environment into innovative, agile, and commercially successful organizations.

Companies must develop a new set of organizational competencies: qualitative customer research to better understand customer behaviors and motivations; an open design process to reframe possibilities and translate new ideas into great customer experiences; and agile technological implementation to quickly prototype ideas, getting them from the whiteboard out into the world where people can respond to them.

In Subject to Change: Creating Great Products and Services for an Uncertain World, Adaptive Path, a leading experience strategy and design company, demonstrates how successful businesses can-and should-use customer experiences to inform and shape the product development process, from start to finish.


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Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World: Adaptive Path on Design + Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The world in which we live and work is subject to change without notice, and succeeding amidst that uncertainty requires continuous improvement. The key to creating successful products and services in a rapidly changing world is not resistance to unexpected change, but the flexibility to adapt to it. With that in mind, Subject to Change presents ideas that will help you improve your work designing products and services that provide great experiences for your customers.

Praise
"Short, but powerful. Easy to read, yet profound. I’ve been searching for just this book: the one perfect book that summarizes the essence of modern product design. This is it. The lessons are as powerful as they are simple: The product is NOT the goal. Successful products are systems. Focus on the experience. This requires empathy, agile product management, real understanding of the target audience. This book practices what it preaches. I will use it in my courses for MBA students. You should use it for, well, for everyone. Short, simple, persuasive, and powerful."
Don Norman
Author of Emotional Design and Design of Future Things
Co-Founder Nielsen Norman group

"Customers don’t care about how innovative you are. They just want to be happy and satisfied. Learn from Adaptive Path a passion for finding and solving the problems that will matter to customers no matter what the future brings."
Scott Berkun
Author, The Myths of Innovation

"Wake up. The future of business isn’t about flying cars and robot butlers. Creating the future is really about changing the way your company connects with its customers. Use this book as your guide."
Jeffrey Veen
Design Manager, Google

"Subject to Change presents complex, challenging ideas in simple, compelling language, with illuminating examples and no shortage of memorable phrases. At once authoritative and nimble, the book itself is an example of the kind of experience the authors admire. No matter who you are, it will change the way you think about design."
Michael Bierut
Partner, Pentagram
Author, 79 Short Essays on Design

"The principles set out in Subject to Change are essential for the design of any product, but especially relevant for the fast-moving world of web software. It used to be the case that a software product was designed once, and refreshed every couple of years. Software is no longer a product. It is a process, a dynamic service that evolves as it responds to constant interaction with its users. The essence of Web 2.0 design is to create a dynamic framework that harnesses the collective intelligence of customers in such a way that the software becomes almost alive. This terrific book teaches the mindset required for this new kind of design."
Tim O’Reilly
Founder and Publisher, O’Reilly Media


Product Details

  • Series: Adaptive Path
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (March 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596516835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596516833
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #830,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Looking at the other reviews for this book, it appears people either love it or hate it. It does make repeated references to the authors' consulting company and the "success stories" they have achieved using the principles in the book. That being said however, if you simply "tune out" the self-gratifying bits, there is quite a bit of useful content in this book and it is laid out well. I started reading it on a cross-country US flight and found that I could not put it down. I did gloss over the "advertorials" for Adaptive Path, but could readily relate to the pitfalls described as my current company (and several previous companies) have fallen into the trap of thinking that customers simply want more features and functions crammed into a single product. I actually applied what I read in the meeting that I was flying to, tuning my comments and suggestions away from features and traditional product design and development methods. Instead I looked at it from the vantage points discussed in the book -- designing for the user experience and designing a "system" of products that work together instead of cramming it all into a single product. And it worked -- we resolved several lingering product issues by looking at the overall experience the user expects instead of the minutiae of the functions and screens.

This book is a wakeup call for product designers and marketers -- stop focusing on features and try to understand what the user really wants to accomplish with the product. While this is not radical new thinking, the straightforward style in which the information and concepts are presented should make it easy for just about anyone to finally achieve a "d'oh!" moment when it comes to designing products and services.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good guide for tech savvy Product Managers July 2, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Sooner or later, every developer out there gets sick of the long hours, the process, the verification and the deadlines. Even if we've naturally gravitated towards leadership, the clarion call of management is strong- it's perceived as advancement (potentially into a C* role), comes with the benefit of fewer long hours, you have people you can boss around... all in all good things when looked at in the right light. Yet most developers end up in Development Management, which ends up being more about estimates and balancing resources (aka beancounting), rather than Product Management, which continues apace with the thing I love most about being a Developer: Building Stuff.

When my User Groups' book shipment from O'Reilly came in with a complementary copy of Adaptive Path's "Subject to Change" I was intrigued. From the title, the book is about "Creating great products and services for an uncertain world". It claimed to be a book book that seemed to be all about how to create and manage a product in the everchanging world of the internet. Now, it turns out that my initial enthusiasm was a little naive, since the argument presented in the book was substantially different than what I was expecting. In fact, one of its chapters is titled `Stop Designing "Products"`, which made me more than a little concerned.

Yet having said that, and taking into account the often blatant plugs for Adaptive Path, it turns out the book was exactly what I needed, even though it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

Chapter 1 lays out the foundation of the argument, which is that customers aren't attracted to features, they're attracted to an experience. Note that this does not mean bells and whistles - I can have an experience at a circus, but that's not what I'm looking for in a laptop.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was disappointed when I got my pre-order of this book. At a scant 160 pages, I was skeptical that it could offer very much insight.

On reading it, I was proven correct. Much of the book was nothing more than an extended advertisement for Adaptive Path. Case studies were too short to learn much from. The only case study really discussed in depth was of Target's new prescription bottles, which have been discussed more in depth and more usefully in too many other books.

The book's eight chapters are full of short sections; many of them read as though they are blog entries. They're strung together with little regard for content or context. The seventh chapter, a flawed discussion of agile development, is completely worthless. The book could have been so much better if the authors had taken the time and effort to better consider their arguments and write a more cohesive work.

If you can look past the book's many shortcomings, there are some interesting nuggets in there. Sadly, the useful bits comprise less than 10% of the book, but they're good enough to earn this book two stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Partisan, Flawed, Loose and rather unworthy May 27, 2010
Format:Hardcover
On one level, I was quite gratified to read this book, being as it is a wholehearted affirmation in favour of effective research in the context of product conception - not just product development and enhancement. Being schooled in social research myself and practiced in market research, it has been a continuing mystery to me why it seems that only under certain stones can one find effective experiential research taking place in interactive product development (which is where these authors have most of their background).

Nonetheless, however well-intentioned the messages, I find that the real-world as presented in this book is a partisan world. I also find there is a bit too much gloss, which leads to the professional landscape in which this book stands being incorrectly assessed and in some places, cheapened.

For example, it's in more than one place in the book that the discipline of marketing is associated merely with the messages around a product and not with the core development of a product itself; and that marketing research is considered to be the minion of an advertising master domineering the consumer as a message receiver with exhortations designedly to serve communications that are generally a one-way traffic. Now even I could see through this one. I spent a lot of my undergraduate time interviewing people - either face-to, in groups or on the phone, and although much of this was quite non-penetrative as regards the real sounding reaches of the under-running consumer waters, I did manage to get glimpses; fleeting but definite glimpses, of marketing research going a lot further than that and pointedly in the development of some very high-profile products.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A good primer to a really challanging discipline
With books on design thinking and design research, its hard to really know what to expect. Some books that I have read were just mind blowing while books such as this one kind of... Read more
Published on January 27, 2012 by UL
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice solid book of known good design methods
This book makes a point, that no longer are we designing products, but we are designing experiences, with Apple as a case in point. Read more
Published on August 11, 2010 by atmj
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring but falls short...
Some good customer experience design tips but read like a long blog post. Lots of build up but not enough solutions offered.
Published on June 25, 2010 by Clint Edmonson
5.0 out of 5 stars A great intro to empathy-driven design and developing an experience...
If you're not already familiar with design thinking and research, this is a great intro to empathy-driven design and developing an experience strategy for your products/services. Read more
Published on August 3, 2009 by Jeffrey A. Melton
4.0 out of 5 stars The folks at Adaptive Path know their stuff
I just finished reading Subject to Change (yeah, I just put the book down) and I think it's a great and easy read on experience design and innovation. Read more
Published on February 1, 2009 by Regnard Raquedan
3.0 out of 5 stars Advice and Advertisement
I got this book about product marketing because I wanted to gain insight on the marketing of my own product [... Read more
Published on October 19, 2008 by Glenn
4.0 out of 5 stars Subject to Change is a great book for shifting your mindset in...
'Subject to Change' is a valuable addition to the modern business person's bookshelf. I should note that this would be an especially great tool for marketers and publicists,... Read more
Published on September 25, 2008 by Clay S. Fernald
4.0 out of 5 stars Good choice for an intro to experience-led design
In an accessible tone, Subject to Change articulates what should now be taken for granted in product design: that products designed around real peoples' needs and desires will win... Read more
Published on September 9, 2008 by Grant Bissett
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides basics for designing products for web software and...
SUBJECT TO CHANGE: CREATING GREAT PRODUCTS AND SERVICES FOR AN UNCERTAIN WORLD provides basics for designing products for web software and competitive advantage alike - but to... Read more
Published on August 17, 2008 by Midwest Book Review
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent strategic overview of new product development practices
Subject to Change presents an excellent strategic overview of new product development practices for media and physical interaction products based upon the consulting practice of... Read more
Published on August 13, 2008 by Ira Laefsky
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