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The Kano Model

In the 1980s Noriaki Kano devised a simple way to model how a person experiences a product or service. The Baymard Institute explains it well; this is their conclusion:

  • The details don’t matter if you don’t get the fundamentals right, so the basic attributes need to work flawlessly before you focus on anything else.
  • You don’t need to match every single performance attribute in the market head-on. Align your investments in performance attributes with the target audience of the product – this may of course vary significantly and warrant different variations of the same product.
  • Delivering unexpected delight attributes is what fuels word-of-mouth. Once you’ve secured the basic attributes and some performance attributes, you should begin brainstorming on what delight attributes you can offer as this is what will truly set you apart from the competition.
  • Today’s delight attribute is tomorrow’s performance attribute, and six months from now it may very well be a basic attribute. Customer expectations continually increase so you have to continually reiterate and reinvent your offerings.
  • Having a deep understanding of the true needs of your customers, their context and their behavior, is absolutely crucial when inventing new delight attributes. Looking at what your competitors are doing won’t help much as the delight attribute will no longer be a delight by the time you have imitated it.

The Baymard Institute, UX and the Kano model

After running Sparkle for nearly four years, I’ve ticked the first two off the list. I’m now looking for “unexpected delight attributes”.

Looking around at the moment, a good example is Basecamp Next. 37signals are clearing looking to delight people with its speed and its calendar.

The fourth item provides fuel for one of my favourite software aphorisms:

Your software is only finished when the last user is dead.

So true.

Andrew Stewart • 22 February 2012 • Development
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