Digital product novelty

9 Mar 2005 - 9:18am
9 years ago
12 replies
391 reads
Narey, Kevin
2004

I noticed this morning that the interest that I'm showing in my recently
acquired IPAQ has waned somewhat. I think this is due to quite a few
reasons. Whilst it's a very useful product in many ways and the UI isn't
that inhibiting, I feel like there's a whole bunch of features that I can't
use i.e. 'Nevo' - the ability to use the product as a remote control for
other IR enabled devices in the home. I haven't found the time in the first
few weeks to discover the benefit of these features and therefore, I've lost
my initial interest.

My primary reason for purchase was to improve my time management and always
have access to a calendar that covers both business and personal. I also
wanted to make notes on ideas and thoughts with the voice recorder whenever
I thought of them. On the face of it, it's a great product and serves me
well, but the novelty wore off after about five weeks of ownership. Could HP
do anything to change this or has their interest gone once the transaction
is complete?

If we could look into ways of maintaining novelty, would it give our
products a longer lasting, beneficial user experience or is it just accepted
that 'novelty can't last forever'. Are there any known studies commentaries
on the novelty factor of digital products? Views and comment welcome too.

Kevin

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Comments

9 Mar 2005 - 10:16am
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

Kevin wrote:
> I haven't found the time in the first
> few weeks to discover the benefit of these features and therefore, I've lost
> my initial interest....
>
> ...My primary reason for purchase was to improve my time management and always
> have access to a calendar that covers both business and personal. I also
> wanted to make notes on ideas and thoughts with the voice recorder whenever
> I thought of them.

This is the chronic behavior of consumers (my self included) we need something specific but get lured into buying something that 'seems' to have even more capabilities to solve problems for us. We fall victim to the mission creep incoraged by marketing. That slightly bigger device allows me to control everything and it's only 50 quid more... If we are lucky the designers have not crippled the product by losing focus on the core product benefits.

I believe that we lose interest in these non-core features because we slowly come back to our senses after falling for the sirein song of the marketing department.

> Could HP
> do anything to change this or has their interest gone once the transaction
> is complete?
>
> If we could look into ways of maintaining novelty, would it give our
> products a longer lasting, beneficial user experience or is it just accepted
> that 'novelty can't last forever'.

I think that the longevity and novelty to certain products like the iPod (an overused example right now but hey ;) why not!) is that they achieve thier core mission with an excellence that cannot be matched by devices that are explicitly multi function out of the gate.

Apple has slowly evolved the product but has encouraged vendors to fill the niche features this creates in interesting balance for the product. Apple is able to market what is a single function device as one that is multifunction and the consumer can reap the primary benefit of the product with the minimum friction but as they are more comfortable with the device they can add more and more uses for the product. This I think is what has created part of the continuing novelty of the device and part of its success. It also allows Apple to let others plumb the market for those features that people really see as advantageous.

Palm used a similar strategy but as the market evolved it became clear that another single function device the cell phone was a more compelling base product to add the secondary functionality to and so we saw palm wither and transform into a cell phone with multifunction capability.

--Coryndon

9 Mar 2005 - 10:42am
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

Kevin wrote:

> I noticed this morning that the interest that I'm showing in my recently
> acquired IPAQ has waned somewhat. I think this is due to quite a few
> reasons. Whilst it's a very useful product in many ways and the UI isn't
> that inhibiting, I feel like there's a whole bunch of features that I can't
> use i.e. 'Nevo' - the ability to use the product as a remote control for
> other IR enabled devices in the home. I haven't found the time in the first
> few weeks to discover the benefit of these features and therefore, I've lost
> my initial interest.

I've experienced the same tendency with every single cell phone I've
had. I know full well that there are features, often useful and
helpful ones, that I don't use because I can't be bothered to look
them up. (this could also be due to the fact that the manual for my
last phone was terribly written, but that's a whole different topic)

I've always appreciated the startup tips you find in any number of
software applications, but those are generally targeted at the
beginner, and users tend to either turn them off, or simply filter
them out after a while. I wonder if anyone's tried to keep track of
how often each function or feature is used, and then introducing the
unused ones through some sort of "advanced beginner tips."

Dan

--
WatCHI
http://www.acm.org/chapters/watchi

9 Mar 2005 - 1:23pm
Robert Reimann
2003

>If we could look into ways of maintaining novelty

Or, we could figure out how to meet users' core
needs so well and so innovatively that they
couldn't imagine living without the product once
they've bought it.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of Narey, Kevin
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 9:18 AM
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: [ID Discuss] Digital product novelty

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

I noticed this morning that the interest that I'm showing in my recently
acquired IPAQ has waned somewhat. I think this is due to quite a few
reasons. Whilst it's a very useful product in many ways and the UI isn't
that inhibiting, I feel like there's a whole bunch of features that I
can't use i.e. 'Nevo' - the ability to use the product as a remote
control for other IR enabled devices in the home. I haven't found the
time in the first few weeks to discover the benefit of these features
and therefore, I've lost my initial interest.

My primary reason for purchase was to improve my time management and
always have access to a calendar that covers both business and personal.
I also wanted to make notes on ideas and thoughts with the voice
recorder whenever I thought of them. On the face of it, it's a great
product and serves me well, but the novelty wore off after about five
weeks of ownership. Could HP do anything to change this or has their
interest gone once the transaction is complete?

If we could look into ways of maintaining novelty, would it give our
products a longer lasting, beneficial user experience or is it just
accepted that 'novelty can't last forever'. Are there any known studies
commentaries on the novelty factor of digital products? Views and
comment welcome too.

Kevin

9 Mar 2005 - 1:34pm
Dave Malouf
2005

This to me sounds like the issue known as "serendipity".
Is the success of a product around how long we can hold onto this emotion,
or is it really successful if we can engage the owner with many emotions and
have those emotions change throughout the life of the relationship between
owner and product with satisfaction being a central emotion in the picture.

But even then, invisibility is also a nice goal for many systems and
products as well. But not for all. I think that the "status" issue is also
primary here, as in the case of iPod and TiVo.

In fact even my yucky cable DVR is still awesome 2 years later.

-- dave

9 Mar 2005 - 1:56pm
Narey, Kevin
2004

Robert wrote:

>Or, we could figure out how to meet users' core
>needs so well and so innovatively that they
>couldn't imagine living without the product once
>they've bought it.

Quite. But I think there's something additional when I speak of 'novelty'.
Ironically, the mobile/cell phone has taken on the very status you speak of,
but the novelty still wanes due to the product having feature 'soup'
installed on it. I'm talking about the notion of 'newness'. The IPAQ, which
will undoubtedly be replaced sooner or later by another 'one product fits
all' device (a lawnmower please?), has obviously had a lot of innovation
poured into it and it's uses are many for many walks of life, but that's
generally down to it's physical portability. Now that I've got it, it's
fitted in nicely and that's it; I'm not thrilled by it any more. The point
is, there's probably another 60% of functions that I haven't tapped into
during that period of 'newness' and frankly, I probably never will. I find
this with most Desktop software come to think of it.

Kevin

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This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential
and it may be privileged.

It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
whom it is addressed.

If you have received this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material immediately.
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9 Mar 2005 - 5:25pm
Robert Reimann
2003

I guess I question the entire concept of "newness" as a
way of tapping that emotion. I think that what one feels
when they get a new product is a thrill at the promise of
fulfilled expectations. But few products follow through
on that promise because they are either poorly designed, or
the truly useful functions are diluted by a myriad of useless
or ill-conceived "extra" features. Time and again, it's the
product that does just a few things remarkably well (e.g., Palm,
TiVo, iPod) that wins out (satisfaction-wise) over products that
try to win customers over with checklist features or novelty
gimmicks.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: Narey, Kevin [mailto:Kevin.Narey at Gedas.co.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 1:57 PM
To: Reimann, Robert; discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Digital product novelty

Robert wrote:

>Or, we could figure out how to meet users' core
>needs so well and so innovatively that they
>couldn't imagine living without the product once
>they've bought it.

Quite. But I think there's something additional when I speak of
'novelty'. Ironically, the mobile/cell phone has taken on the very
status you speak of, but the novelty still wanes due to the product
having feature 'soup' installed on it. I'm talking about the notion of
'newness'. The IPAQ, which will undoubtedly be replaced sooner or later
by another 'one product fits all' device (a lawnmower please?), has
obviously had a lot of innovation poured into it and it's uses are many
for many walks of life, but that's generally down to it's physical
portability. Now that I've got it, it's fitted in nicely and that's it;
I'm not thrilled by it any more. The point is, there's probably another
60% of functions that I haven't tapped into during that period of
'newness' and frankly, I probably never will. I find this with most
Desktop software come to think of it.

Kevin

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Registered in England no. 1371338

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential
and it may be privileged.

It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it
is addressed.

If you have received this in error, please contact the sender and delete
the material immediately.
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10 Mar 2005 - 4:52am
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 9 Mar 2005, at 22:25, Reimann, Robert wrote:
> I guess I question the entire concept of "newness" as a
> way of tapping that emotion. I think that what one feels
> when they get a new product is a thrill at the promise of
> fulfilled expectations.

I would definitely agree that newness is not the right thing to be
aiming for. By aiming for it you're trying to maintain the initial
excitement. One problem I think we have as a society, which is
encouraged by product marketing is the idea that this excitement should
last forever. This is completely unrealistic, emotions fade with time.
If you design you product to be exciting then when the excitement wears
off it is liable to be just irritating.

People may disagree with this example, but I would argue that WinXP
visual design suffers from this. When you first look at it it's
exciting, but over time the highly saturated colours distract from what
you're doing, and detract from long term contentment. By contrast (if
you'll excuse the pun) MacOS is more subtle, and while it has lots of
animated effects which provide initial excitement, the static visuals
are unobtrusive so make it more appealing in the longer term and less
distracting to work with.

Instead of excitement we should be aiming for contentment. That can be
maintained indefinitely, and is a deeper and more meaningful response.
Games are perhaps an exception, where excitement is the point, but
because of that we accept that any game is going to have a much more
limited lifespan.

Contentment, I would argue will help to bring repeat customers and
brand loyalty. Excitement followed by disappointment will lead to an
endless hunt for the next high, but not necessarily customer loyalty.

--Pete

----------------------------------------------------------
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

10 Mar 2005 - 2:10am
Patricia Mullenberg
2005

>Or, we could figure out how to meet users' core
>needs so well and so innovatively that they
>couldn't imagine living without the product once
>they've bought it.

If we only designed features that the users really needed I think there
would be a better chance of all of those features being used. With
feature creep and not clearly outlining the user and trying to satisfy
too many users we often end up with a product that none of the users
have the time to figure out. There is a definite danger in diluting the
important features with lots of fringe features that might be useful to
a small handful of the users. I'm sure you all remember Allan Cooper's
example of the car for everyone in "The inmates are running the asylum"

Cheers
Trish from South Africa!

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10 Mar 2005 - 2:13am
Patricia Mullenberg
2005

I absolutely agree with Robert, and I'm sure we can all agree that it
isn't always that much fun to convince the marketing people of this!

Trish

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

I guess I question the entire concept of "newness" as a
way of tapping that emotion. I think that what one feels
when they get a new product is a thrill at the promise of
fulfilled expectations. But few products follow through
on that promise because they are either poorly designed, or
the truly useful functions are diluted by a myriad of useless
or ill-conceived "extra" features. Time and again, it's the
product that does just a few things remarkably well (e.g., Palm,
TiVo, iPod) that wins out (satisfaction-wise) over products that
try to win customers over with checklist features or novelty
gimmicks.

Robert.

10 Mar 2005 - 7:21am
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

To my understanding, Kevin's original point was that the device or
application might have features which are both well-designed and
useful, but not necessarily to the novice user. By the time the user
has gained some experience with the product, the novelty has worn off,
and the process of discovery stalls -- the extra functionality isn't
likely to be discovered.

Dan

>
> I would definitely agree that newness is not the right thing to be
> aiming for. By aiming for it you're trying to maintain the initial
> excitement. One problem I think we have as a society, which is
> encouraged by product marketing is the idea that this excitement should
> last forever. This is completely unrealistic, emotions fade with time.
> If you design you product to be exciting then when the excitement wears
> off it is liable to be just irritating.
>

--
WatCHI
http://www.acm.org/chapters/watchi

10 Mar 2005 - 8:20am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

Kevin wrote:
NK> Now that I've got it, it's
NK> fitted in nicely and that's it; I'm not thrilled by it any more. The point
NK> is, there's probably another 60% of functions that I haven't tapped into
NK> during that period of 'newness' and frankly, I probably never will.

Robert wrote:
RR> I guess I question the entire concept of "newness" as a
RR> way of tapping that emotion. I think that what one feels
RR> when they get a new product is a thrill at the promise of
RR> fulfilled expectations. But few products follow through
RR> on that promise because they are either poorly designed, or
RR> the truly useful functions are diluted by a myriad of useless
RR> or ill-conceived "extra" features.

Different products promise different thrills. Some of them are thrills
of discovery and novelty (what generation is your mobile phone?), and
some of them are thrills of stability and longevity (any fans of
mechanical watches here?). The issue is in the gap between intended
and customer-perceived product goals.

Lets do a tiny little bit of analysis. Consider the following:

1. Value
1A. What type of value does the product target? Mark the place on the
continuum

Functional ----------------------------------------------- Emotional
(a wooly hat) (a teddy bear)

1B. What was *your own* perceived value of the product when you bought
it?
Mark again, between "Functional" (surviving Feb in Oslo) and
"Emotional" (aaah, it's such a cutie!!)

2. Life expectancy
2A. How long is the product expected to last?
Mark between "Until it wears off" and "Disposable after one use".

2B. How long do *you* expect the product to last in your life?
Mark between "Until it remains functional" and "Until my mood
changes".

3. Efficiency and skill level
3A. When the product is expected to be most efficient?
Mark between "On the first use" (a coffee mug) and "On years of
learning" (UNIX)

3B. How do *you* perceive the efficiency of the product?
Mark as 3A.

We can consider a few more useful dimensions, such as intended user
type (innovators, early adopters, pragmatists, etc.), but it's enough
for demonstrating the idea. Compare A and B answers in all categories.
How close are they for you for the product in question? Probably not,
because otherwise you wouldn't be bothered with the loss of thrill.
You would be either thrilled with discovering every single feature the
product has to offer (welcome to the nerds' world), or replace it when
the novelty wears off (fashion stuff) or simply enjoy the product for
what it has always been (is your first teddy still with you?)

Quality of design is not an attribute of the product itself, but of
the difference in expectations for any particular product owner. Don't
blame a product for not being a thrill, if it was never intended to be
one. But do by any means, if it was.

Lada

10 Mar 2005 - 11:52am
Tadej Maligoj
2004

>
> To my understanding, Kevin's original point was that the device or
> application might have features which are both well-designed and
> useful, but not necessarily to the novice user. By the time the user
> has gained some experience with the product, the novelty has worn off,
> and the process of discovery stalls -- the extra functionality isn't
> likely to be discovered.
>
> Dan
>

A sarcastic (but I am afraid, near true) comment:
by the time the novice become expert, the product get an upgraded
version, which must to be sold on the market, too. Vendor is not
interested to make an old product attractive any more.

It is known that functionality sells. People get better feeling when
get more functionality for the same amount of money. Thus, it is up to
consumer. Vendors will always offer more. She is to decide, what she
needs and how much she want to pay for it.

Tadej

BTW: in my case 'less is more' was the case. I spend a little fortune
for my hi-fi with 5 (five) buttons ... ;+(

--
_______________________________
Tadej Maligoj, Information Architect
e1: tadej.maligoj at gmail.com
e2: studio at maligoj.com
m: 031 306 986
w: www.maligoj.com

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