IDEA09: The Dawn of Perfect Products

by Luke Wroblewski September 17, 2009

At IDEA09 in Toronto, Tim Queenan's The Dawn of Perfect Products talk looked at how social media can help improve the quality of the products we design and develop.

  • Will we interact with less and less inferior products over time because of the influence of social media.
  • "Product experiences will always have flaws." And flaws are okay, it teaches us something about our products. Flaws include volume, physical decay, usability, and usefulness.
  • Small can be beautiful: new orientation of production toward smaller scale.
  • People see social media as a communication solution not as a product solution but social media allows you to get very small. It is a force multiplier –you can do more with less.
  • Social media is self-expression that harnesses network effects.
  • Marketers need to consider social media as part of their product instead of a way to communicate the benefits of their product. Most companies see social media as a tactic not as a fundamental way to rethink how their business operates.
  • Companies look at social media as: PR announcements, customer service, networking, customer acquisition, etc. This is communicating the sameness just at a faster pace.
  • Social media can kill bad experiences. It rightfully puts sucky products in their place. Now movies are tracked on opening night but they used to be tracked on opening weekend. The message of suckiness spreads really fast.
  • Social media allows other wanted experiences to emerge. The crowd can determine what should be produced and at what price. Rise of end user prototype marketing (threadless and quirky) –creates an opportunity to build small.
  • The traditional perfect product: fulfills a need or want, has niche or mass market appeal, has high margins, has high perceived value, must be replenished or repurchased by customer often, is easily upsold or cross-sold
  • To get to a small perfect product, focus on the user’s behavior with the product
  • Experiences get more valuable as more people interact with them
  • Experiences encourage even more value to emerge over time when end users can: contribute, customize, and extend these experiences
  • Experiences that live as part of the “network” in real-time stay more relevant and encourage more authentic interactions
  • Small can be beautiful when end behavior is in focus. Behaviors we want to incite & organize VS. featuritis & user preferences
  • Social media challenges “perfect” products to be: intuitive, elastic (able to change and grow), intelligent (should see what is going on and learn from it), polarizing (if designing for masses you are designing for no one), and enterprising (can’t just be built cause it is cool).
  • Think big (content and context come together in the network) and act small (find beauty by inviting in end user behavior).