Having more features for your consumer oriented product doesn’t necessarily sell better. It will make it look nice in a comparison chart, but that advantage is not bound to last. The customers will form their own opinion as soon as they start using it and if they hate it everyone else will know in a press of page reload on Twitter.
How’s a device good?
To be good means to be liked by the consumers. To be great — it has to be loved. But thinking for a moment, how do people begin to like a device, a smartphone for example? A person would normally first see the device, then touch it and interact with it. So the first steps towards a good impression is the looks and the feel.
I would go about the same way in what concerns software. Liking it means it should be beautiful and it should feel nice. That is to say the User Interface is the major player in assessing software quality.
Mobile Flash delivered a bad sensory experience
Recently Adobe announced they would discontinue development for the mobile Flash Player. This is the end of iOS doesn’t support Flash argument and the victory of the end-user positive experience. The Flash player performed poorly on mobile devices and was not ready for the touch screen interaction. Steve Jobs had foreseen this and pointed these issues in the famous Thoughts on Flash letter.
Bottom line is that a poor feature can hinder the overall user experience with the device. Thinking for a moment we can clearly see that web browsing is a fundamental activity for a smartphone/tablet user and most of the websites have Flash banners. Not even wishing to see the rich media that Flash exposed on the Web, users would be annoyed by a sluggish device.
So Android didn’t feel right because is was slow while the iOS device felt great because it was very responsive. And since humans form perceptions using the sensory information they extract using their senses, like vision, some of the Andriod users would form a negative perception and yearn for the beautiful iPhone.
Software is great if the UI is great
This is not novelty whatsoever, but there are so many companies out there that build sheets of features instead of good software that sometimes I’m ashamed to admit I’m a programmer. This is the same as boasting a certain device supports Flash.
The main thing for consumer oriented software is to be perceived well and then to get the job done. No one really cares about the little extra features most customers don’t even use. No one wants the features that are so hard to use they even cause more frustration than if they hadn’t existed in the first place. And no one could care less about the database or so-called technologies employed to build the software.
Unlike programmers, users have no grasp of the internals of software, just as us, humans, when we interact with each other, we note our external looks, language and body language or we exchange feelings. But we rarely note the internal state of each other’s bowels in a middle of a discussion. We just can’t notice these details using our senses and, because perception is made out of sensory information, we can’t build perceptions of such hidden things.
Users work with what they can see and feel. If the application is ugly or slow, it leads to the creation of a negative perception in the mind of the users. This is very difficult to overcome, even well featured software may find it hard to fight such a negative perception and on the long term, users tend to switch to other solutions as they become available.
Beautiful, simple, fast, obvious and friendly, these are the qualities that software needs to expose before implementing tons of features just to overcome their competitors. This is what less is more means in this industry and this is why Apple is so loved by the consumers.