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Business Week have an article about the software industry’s terrible track record at launching successful products.

Bill Buxton has a great many thoughts around why this is a problem, and he pins it largely on the lack of a design process.  In his opinion, designers should be leading the charge in ensuring the success of a new product.

I’m going to assume that ‘success’ means ‘commercial success’, and the product becomes profitable and is a hit with the customers.  The article doesn’t say what success looks like.

Secondly, by implying that designers should be taking charge, to me at least, indicates that he’s seen a great many developer-driven product launches.
If this is the case, I’m not surprised that the software industry is so bad.  Developers are great at solving difficult technical challenges, but terrible at the commercial aspects.  From a developer’s perspective, iterative improvements to a product will involve increasing the RAM, bumping up the speed, and tweaks to the software etc.

If they’re lucky, and I mean really, really lucky, these will be user-beneficial changes.  More often that not though, the user has different concerns, such as whether the product solves a problem they have, or does something better than other options.  A crap product that’s faster than the previous version is still a crap product.

I think I can summarise Mr Buxton’s book with this:  the software industry has trouble launching successful products because too often, the user requirements or business requirements are not addressed, or even asked for.  A user needs-based approach will result in a more successful track record.

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