【海外传真】产品 – 技术优先?需要优先?

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There’s a debate that’s been going on in the design and user research community because the legendary Don Norman wrote an essay in which he did an about-face and decided that doing user research to start a project was mostly a waste of time.

在设计和用户研究领域一直存在争议,因为传奇人物唐·诺曼写了一篇文章,在这篇文章中,他的立场有了大的转变,认为通过用户研究来开始一个项目多半是在浪费时间。

That’s an oversimplification – he actually was only talking about those seeking the big, society changing innovations like the airplane, the telephone, and indoor plumbing. He argues that in each of these cases, first the underlying technology had to be invented, and then only later did we discover uses for it.  So his point (and title of his essay) is – technology first, needs last.

这是一种过于简单化的说法——他实际上只是在谈论那些寻求大的,能够改变社会的创新,比如飞机、电话和实验室技术。他认为,在每一种情况下,首先必须发明基础技术,然后我们才发现其用途。因此,他的观点(以及文章的标题)是——技术第一,需要最后。

In part I think he’s trying to shake up those in the design community that advocate a very dogmatic approach of first doing weeks or even months of research to determine needs (e.g. ethnographic research, market research, user research), and only later come up with the technology to deliver on these needs. I’ve also known many of these people that believe this is how innovation is supposed to happen.

在某种程度上,我认为他想撼动是那些在设计界主张的非常教条的方法,首先做几周甚至几个月的研究来确定需要(如人种学研究、市场研究、用户研究),然后再提出技术来实现这些需要。我也知道很多人,他们相信创新就是这样发生的。

Unfortunately, while I think there is an important truth to Norman’s observations, I think his conclusions have confused a lot of people.

不幸的是,虽然我认为诺曼的观察呈现了一个重要的真相,但我认为他的结论让很多人感到困惑。

I’d like to use this debate to try to underscore what I think is a fallacy of those that believe needs come first, and those that believe technology comes first.

我想用这场辩论来强调我认为的一种谬论,即那些认为需要是第一位的人,以及那些认为技术是第一位的人。

In fairness, for typical, incremental innovations like improving the effectiveness of a web site, Norman thinks that observing users and determining their issues first and then using those learnings to drive technical solutions is great, and I would argue that covers the majority of what most of us do in product. Not many of us have had the chance to work on something that radically changes society.

公平的说,增加创新可以提高一个网站的有效性,诺曼认为,首先观察用户和确定他们的问题,然后使用这些知识来驱动技术解决方案是伟大的,我认为,这涵盖了我们大多数人所做的产品。我们中没有多少人有机会从事彻底改变社会的工作。

However, for most interesting innovations, it’s not that technology comes first and then needs second, and it’s also not that the needs come first and then technology second.  Rather, it really is a collaborative and parallel effort between product, design and engineering to come up with solutions that are both possible/feasible and useful/valuable.

然而,对于大多数有趣的创新来说,并不是技术优先,需要第二,也不是需要优先,技术第二。相反,它实际上是产品、设计和工程之间的协作和并行工作,目的在于提出既具有可能性/可行性,又具有可用性/有价值的解决方案。

When Fred Smith innovated to create what would become FedEx, it was a beautiful blend of combining a long-standing need (getting a parcel from anywhere to anywhere overnight) with a solution that was just now possible – a fleet of jets using a hub and spoke system and some impressive logistics software and hardware.

弗雷德·史密斯的创新成就了联邦快递,它是一个结合了存在已久的需要(在一夜之间让一个包裹从任何地方任何地方)的混合体解决方案,,现在变成了可能——一个机队的飞机使用中心与分支系统和一些令人印象深刻的物流软件和硬件。

When the TiVo team innovated with the DVR, it was a beautiful blend of a long-standing need (recording was such a pain with video tapes and we hated being forced to watch commercials) with a solution that was just now possible – a low-cost Linux-based appliance with a very large hard disk and some very impressive video management software.

还有TiVo团队基于DVR的创新, 它是一个结合了存在已久的需要(用录像带记录是如此的痛苦,我们讨厌被迫观看广告)的解决方案,只是现在可能——一种低成本的基于linux的设备与一个非常大的硬盘和一些非常令人印象深刻的视频管理软件。

Apple is full of examples of just such elegant combinations of technology and need, and the iPad is just the latest.

苹果公司充满了技术和需要完美结合的例子,而iPad只是最新的产品。

Are FedEx, TiVo and the iPad as fundamental to society as the invention of the airplane or indoor plumbing?  Maybe not.  But are they non-incremental innovations that have had a profound impact on their respective businesses and their customers?  Absolutely.  And in every case this wasn’t just pure technology research hoping to one day be useful.  Rather, they were all innovations built on the back of hundreds of other innovations, but without question driven by the desire to solve specific hard problems addressing real needs.

联邦快递、TiVo和iPad对社会的重要性,是否与飞机或实验室技术的发明一样?也许不是。但是,它们是不是对各自的业务和客户产生了深远影响的非增量式创新?绝对的。在任何情况下,这不仅仅是单纯的技术研究希望有一天能有用。相反,它们都是建立在数百项其他创新的基础上的创新,但毫无疑问,它们都是由解决解决实际需要的具体困难问题的愿望驱动的。

Now, I think the value of Norman’s argument is that none of these innovations required months of formal market research or ethnographic research in order to understand the user or market needs.  No, the real challenge was in coming up with solutions that were feasible and usable. The need wasn’t the issue.

我认为诺曼观点的价值在于这些创新都不需要数月的正式市场研究或人种学研究来理解用户或市场需要。不,真正的挑战是找到可行和可用的解决方案。需要不是问题。

Norman’s argument is similar to the argument against Waterfall or marketing-driven products. Spending a bunch of time up front defining the problem sounds logical but isn’t the way innovation works. And of course we learned a long time ago that you can’t get the solutions from the customer because they don’t know what’s possible.

诺曼的观点类似于反对瀑布式或市场驱动型产品的观点。花大量时间预先定义问题听起来合乎逻辑,但这不是创新的工作方式。当然,我们很久以前就知道你不能从客户那里得到解决方案,因为他们不知道什么是可能的。

So while I agree with Normal that spending a lot of time up front is not time well spent, I do believe there is value in framing the need or problem to be solved, as this often opens your mind up to alternative approaches to solving the problem.  But I argue for a very quick problem definition statement (e.g. an opportunity assessment).

因此,虽然我同意通常提前花大量时间并不是很好地利用时间,但我确实相信,确定需要解决的需要或问题是有价值的,因为这通常会让你的思维开阔,接受解决问题的其他方法。但是我认为应该用一个非常快速的问题定义描述(例如机会评估)。

But I think the deeper issue here is that this overly simplistic view of “technology first” or “needs first” obscures the real dynamic of what happens during product discovery.

但我认为更深层次的问题是,这种“技术第一”或“需要第一”的过于简单的观点掩盖了产品发现过程中发生的真实动态。

I would argue that it’s not very hard to start with a clear need, but product discovery is really about trying to find a solution that addresses that need (it’s valuable), is usable and feasible. Product discovery can have lots of outcomes:

我认为从一个明确的需要开始并不难,但是产品发现实际上是试图找到一个解决这个需要(它是有价值的)、可用和可行的解决方案。产品发现可以有很多结果:

– Sometimes we validate that this need is real and users are hungry for a solution, but sadly the solution isn’t yet technically feasible – either because of missing or immature core technology, or because of cost (development time or investment required), or because of performance.  I never like to give up too quickly on feasibility because so often I’ve been surprised by what the engineers can solve when you include them in the discovery process, and give them a little time to think about it and try out different approaches.

-有时我们验证这种需要是真实的,用户渴望得到解决方案,但遗憾的是,该解决方案在技术上还不可行——要么是因为缺少或不成熟的核心技术,要么是因为成本(开发时间或所需投资),要么是因为性能。我从不喜欢过快地放弃可行性,因为我经常惊讶于,当你把工程师包括在发现过程中时,他们能解决什么问题,给他们一点时间来思考和尝试不同的方法。

– Sometimes we find that users are not nearly as concerned about the need as we were, and it’s really not such a great product idea after all. Or a variation of this is that we discover that there are reasons behind the current solution and they are motivated to resist changing to a better solution.  Happens way more often than we like to admit.

-有时我们发现用户不像我们那样关心需要,它也不是一个很好的产品想法。或者另一种说法是,我们发现当前的解决方案背后有一些原因,而这些原因促使我们抵制向更好的解决方案转变。发生的次数比我们愿意承认的要多。

– Sometimes the need is real and the technology is feasible, but the solution is just so complicated or foreign that users can’t figure it out, or are unwilling to invest the time to learn.

-有时候需要是真实的,技术是可行的,但是解决方案太复杂或者太陌生,用户无法理解,或者不愿意花时间去学习。

– Sometimes the very act of putting your ideas in front of users and letting them play with it (and open their eyes to what’s possible) opens up new possibilities, occasionally even more powerful than your original concept.  We call that a “pivot,” and it’s one of my favorite surprise outcomes of product discovery.

-有时候,把你的想法呈现给用户,让他们去体验(并打开他们的眼睛去看什么是可能的)的行为本身就会带来新的可能性,有时甚至比你最初的想法更强大。我们称之为“支点”,这是我最喜欢的产品发现惊喜之一。

– Most of the time, however, once we put our ideas in front of users, and we can see which aspects of their needs are addressed well and which aren’t, it provides us with the insights and understanding we need to refine our solution, sometimes in minor ways and sometimes in significant ways, but we iterate and zero in on a good solution – one that is valuable, usable and feasible.

-然而,大多数时候,当我们把我们的想法摆在用户面前,我们可以看到哪些方面的需要并没有解决好,它给我们需要改进我们的解决方案提供了眼界和理解,有时在次要方面,有时在重要的方面,但我们迭代和把注意力放在一个很好的解决方案上,它是有价值的,可用的和可行的。

It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always predictable, but one way or the other, you’re combining a real need with something that’s technically possible.

它并不总是美好的,也不总是可以预测的,但不管怎样,你是在把真实的需要和技术上可行的东西结合起来。

I think the lessons to be learned from this debate include not only Norman’s point of not going overboard on user or market research before you start considering feasibility, but also on the importance of viewing innovation as a true collaboration between product, design and technology where we strive to discover solutions that are valuable, usable and feasible.

我认为从这场争论中得到的经验教训,不仅包括诺曼的观点,就是在你开始考虑可行性之前,无需注重用户或市场研究,还包括要在产品设计和技术之间把创新作为一个真正的合作,我们要力探索解决方案,是有价值的,可用的和可行的。



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