When I told my wife that the name of the new Product Management blog I was creating was going to be Product Beautiful, she wrinkled her nose and asked if it was going to be about good looking products.
Well, yes and no. With a name like Product Beautiful you might assume that this is a site focused on the physical design of a product and how aesthetically pleasing it is. But to me, what makes a product beautiful is not only the design, but how well a product meets the needs of the market. There are many examples out there of expensively designed products that just failed to meet a need. Design is very important, but it’s not enough.
It would also be really cliché to slobber over the iPod at this point (the picture above is tongue in cheek). There are plenty of fan boy sites out there if you want that, and the iPod has been thoroughly dissected from all angles better than I am prepared to do. So this will (hopefully) be my one and only iPod mention on PB. The press and fans have focused so hard on the iPod’s design that they’ve missed what really makes it great. It is the fusion of a great, usable design AND meeting a market need that makes the iPod work (plus great marketing and service).
It is beautiful because they’ve thought carefully about what that product needs to be (an easy way to tote your music around) and what it doesn’t need to be (an FM tuner or bluetooth hub, for now). Those might seem like little features but they are critical because they make it easier to retain the usability of the product. Apple understands more than other companies the net-effect of new features on usability. Feature fatigue is real, and software and consumer electronics are the worst offenders in the market.
Product Beautiful is all about what makes products great, their inner beauty that only a Product Manager might think about or consider. That’s what matters most, right?