Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills..

Today, I was trying out a wpf grid control and couldn't figure out how to style or data bind or do anything with it in xaml.

I sent the sales rep an email asking for some examples and I was told data binding, templates and styles were not currently supported (dependency properties it seemed too).

With that, I thanked them for their time, and said databinding and styling were a priority so we could not consider their grid.

I didn't expect to hear much after that, but I was informed that those "bells and whistles" were not as important as the other features only their grid supports...

While I would argue these "extras" are a foundation of WPF, I don't think that should matter.

Why are my priorities not valuable?

When listening to user feedback on our applications and products, we can get defensive.

We're all human and insecure, so I guess that could explain it.

However, I would rather focus on a different issue -- what is guiding our decisions, priorities and emotional responses?

Why is the response to user feedback a reason instead of thank you?

All feedback is an opportunity to create a better product. It is great service your users provide (usually for free!).

One of the greatest technical challenges in Ript was adding the ability to rip Flash. It took many, many spikes. I think most other companies would have put it aside -- it didn't add much value, wasn't going to make us money, isn't something that will make a person use the application and certainly cost time and money.

So, why did Gerry make it a requirement?

During user testing, we noticed people thought they were doing something wrong when they couldn't rip flash. They don't understand that some images are flash and some are images.

Gerry could have said document how to determine if an image is Flash so users will know why they can't do something.

But, she understood that it didn't matter if the behavior was documented. If a person thinks its broken, begins to lose trust or feels they are doing something wrong, they are alienated. They will not feel confidence in themselves or the usefulness of the program.

Before working with Gerry I didn't understand this concept. I would have put flash aside. However, her decision is what made her a great product owner.