Sunday, May 13, 2007

Netflix, Google, and fast iterations

Another interesting post at UIE:

"We make a lot of this stuff up as we go along," the lead designer said. Everyone in the group laughed until he continued, "I'm serious. We don't assume anything works and we don't like to make predictions without real-world tests. Predictions color our thinking. So, we continually make this up as we go along, keeping what works and throwing away what doesn't. We've found that about 90% of it doesn't work." - Lead designer, Netflix

"In the case of the Toolbar Beta, several of the key features (custom buttons, shared bookmarks) were prototyped in less than a week. In fact, during the brainstorming phase, we tried out about five times as many key features -- many of which we discarded after a week of prototyping. Since only 1 in every 5 to 10 ideas work out, the strategy of constraining how quickly ideas must be proven allows us to try out more ideas faster, increasing our odds of success." - Marissa Mayer, Google

Fast prototyping, getting real user reactions--these are the hallmarks of Netflix and Google's design approaches.

The benefits of fast iteration:
  • Fail fast--don't waste time on things that won't work
  • More experimentation--try out a wider range of things
  • Fact-based--let real user data/reactions to prototypes, rather than opinions/arguments, guide the decision-making
  • Create customer loyalty--users feel that they are co-creating the product when they see rapid iterations, lots of things being tried with their input

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