Putting people together to create new products

When companies plan out a new product (or service, or business process) they often think of the effort as the coordination of two teams solving different problems. Engineering addresses the question "what can you make?" Marketing addresses the question "what can you sell?"

You could engineer a combined toaster and cell phone, but you could never sell it. Marketing would tell you that you have a product no customer would buy. Likewise, you might successfully market a car that runs on tapwater, but the impossibility of building one makes it a meaningless product idea. Smart organizations know that they need to combine the insights from both marketing and engineering to find products that they can both make and sell.

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Not all web sites are alike

With the Web now completely ubiquitous and familiar, and the frenzy of getting on the Web for novelty’s sake long past, companies routinely turn to the Web to address many types of challenges. A Web site can offer a simple brochure for communicating with customers, a way to disseminate information to people within a large organization, a tool for running complex business processes, and much more. Because different sites try to address different problems, creating them requires different kinds of planning and development.

Although it may sound like a truism, many people have a hard time talking about the distinctions between different kinds of Web development, which makes it difficult to decide how to proceed. This article offers a quick survey of various Web projects and of the techniques that address them.

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The web, information architecture, and interaction design

The impact of digital technology—from the Web to mobile phones to the silicon in your toaster—has meant a proliferation of terms for the work people do to define digital products and services. People talk about "customer experience," "user-centered design," and so forth. This talk can confuse even people who do that work for a living, as you often find different people using different terms to mean the same thing—or using the same term to mean very different things!

Many people say that this reflects a breakdown of disciplinary distinctions in designing for the new world of the digital. "It’s all just design." I disagree. I see a few major types of problems in the digital world, and I believe that each of these has its own set of tools and methods that work well to solve that type of problem.

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Where do product managers fit?

People often ask how interaction designers should fit into their companies.
If the company cannot take good advantage of it, the most brilliant interaction
design in the world won’t help as much as simple, workmanlike interaction
design will benefit a company that uses that design well.

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Intuition, pleasure, and gestures

"Intuitive." We use the word a lot when talking about interactive
systems, but it misleads us.

When people say they want a system to be "intuitive," they typically
think they mean that users should immediately understand how a system
works when they encounter it. But you cannot really do that with many systems
… not even with most systems people talk about when you ask them for
an example of something "intuitive."

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