Part III in an ongoing series of Why Products Suck (and what we can do about it).
Every product is a balancing act between what the organization (often a business) needs (usually to make money) vs. what a user needs (to get a task done/find information/be entertained, etc.). When the organization’s needs overwhelm the user’s needs (and thus affects the product’s desirability) the product sucks.
Examples of this are everywhere. Websites that are so crammed with advertising you can barely see the content you came for. Mobile phones with draconian service plans. Products where the hardware and software don’t match because for cost and efficiency reasons they were done separately then slapped together at the end. Poor, shoddy materials that break. Products whose content and features are organized and implemented by what’s best for the organization, not the end user.
The solution to this starts in the product strategy. The right business model needs to be implemented and/or devised to both support business and user needs. Users will pay a premium for a better, higher quality product that does a better job serving their needs, for instance. Or pay more for a product with no advertising. A beautiful, easy to use object can often command a higher price, even if the manufacturing cost is the same.
Design principles can also help keep the organization focused on the core needs of the user, and product testing with actual users can cast a (hopefully) unbiased light on your design decisions.
As with Buddhism, what is optimal is a Middle Way: products that respect the time and effort (not to mention money for purchase) of their users without over-burdening them with organizational needs.