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Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World: Adaptive Path on Design 1st Edition
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"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."
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."
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."
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."
Founder and Publisher, O’Reilly Media
- Item Weight : 12.3 ounces
- ISBN-13 : 978-0596516833
- Hardcover : 202 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0596516835
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.77 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : O'Reilly Media; 1st edition (March 26, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #579,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
This ability to understand the "experience" is provided by knowing your customer or understanding the real end usage of the product. Working in Human Factors and having been exposed to Contextual Inquiry this was kind of a "Duh" moment. Yes, you must understand and emphasize with the users of the products, we have known that for years. The struggle has always been to get management on the same avenue. On top of that many companies are very siloed. Hardware and Software are different divisions and only talk when they have to. HOW to get them to chat would be more helpful here. This might be easier for a consultant (like Adaptive Path) brought in to help (acknowledging you need help is half of the solution) than an embedded member of an organization...isn't that ironic?
Finally the design method of generating loads of ideas and then picking and choosing and prototyping to quickly eliminate ones that will or won't work, is a great idea if you have management support and a staff to do this. Many people are also working pretty lean. It is great to have ideas generated throughout the company, but I have find sometimes the ones that get picked have more to do with the status of the person that generated it than the quality of the idea. If a democratic method and one driven by skilled designers in the trade were to manage this, this would be ideal. Also sometimes pieces of many ideas may work and a skilled UI engineer/designer would understand how to put this together and user testing would help to understand how well this worked.
The Agile method is a great one, if implemented by a closely working team and with the expectations of iterations built in. Geography does not matter so much as long as there is communication. Sometimes however this can get really muddy if groups get siloed and iterations are not encouraged. Sometimes managers attempt to expedite things by actively discouraging communication and iterations. This serves no one well.
I enjoyed reading this book as these principles are sound. But, I don't think anything new is covered here.
They talk a lot about having an "experience stragegy". I understand this to be building a product by aiming to meet the user's needs. Google Calendar is a good example. They stole a large portion of the online calendar market, even though users were already heavily invested into Yahoo and Hotmail's email/calendar. They did this by sitting down with people who used calendars a lot, and finding out what they wanted in a calendar (not exactly rocket science, I know).
Kodak is another company that had a developed experience stragegy. When Kodak cameras first came out, they reduced the task of taking photos from one that required you to be a technician, to something anyone can do. They did this by selling the entire "experience" - you purchase Kodak film rolls (before this film was on expensive and fragile plates), put it into your Kodak camera, point & shoot, then send the film into Kodak for processing. Apple is another good example of a company that has an experience strategy.
There are lots of other interesting examples and an anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book. There is even a whole chapter on Agile Development, both from software and hardware perspectives.
In summary, the message of the book is that we need to design products and services that deliver a positive experience to the user (notice "user", they take issue with the word "consumer"). The book expounds on this with much detail and examples, but I believe this is the main message.
Unfortunately I found this book extremely hard to get through, due to the "dry" writing style. It made me feel as if I were listening to a boring professor's lecture. There may be better books on this subject, something from Seth Godin for example.