Product quality trumps evangelism
John Gruber of Daring Fireball made an important point about product design recently in response to Robert Scoble’s concern that many Google employees were not wearing their Google Glasses. After Scoble suggested that a lack of employee support might hurt adoption of the Glass product, Gruber responds:
“Scoble has the cause and effect backwards. If Glass were a good product, people who have them would wear them. It’s that simple.”
I agree with Gruber. Product quality is the major determinate of user behavior here. Even if it is true that people are embarrassed to wear Glass that’s part of the product experience and must be taken into consideration.
Expand this to products in general. Good products, given a chance, sell themselves. Or, to be more specific, good products are promoted by owners implicitly with their continued use. And, if the user really likes the product, they’ll spread the word.
I think it’s easy to say that good products fail because they just don’t get enough marketing, whether it’s internally like Glass at Google or externally in the market at large. But that’s the exception I think. Good products are prized by their owners because good products make people happy. Not only do they solve the problem the owner has (the job-to-be-done) but they are also a mark of pride. (just think of how proud iPhone owners are)
As Paul Rand said: “The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.”.