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Re: Product Metaphor

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  • Roman Pichler
    Hi Joshua, Nice post. Like others in the agile community, I have used the term product vision to capture the essence of a product, to sketch what the product
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 23, 2010
      Hi Joshua,

      Nice post. Like others in the agile community, I have used the term "product vision" to capture the essence of a product, to sketch what the product should roughly look like and do, and to galvanise everyone involved in the development effort: http://bit.ly/cSZspJ and http://amzn.to/crkiAW

      Best regards,
      Roman

      --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Joshua Kerievsky <joshua@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi Folks,
      >
      > I blogged today about "Product Metaphor" and thought it may be of interest
      > to folks on this list.
      >
      > Here's the link: http://bit.ly/ch1ztZ
      >
      > --
      > best,
      > jk
      >
      > --
      > Joshua Kerievsky
      > Founder, CEO
      > Industrial Logic, Inc.
      > Web: http://industriallogic.com
      > Twitter: @JoshuaKerievsky, @IndustrialLogic
      >
      > Amplify Your Agility
      > Coaching | Training | Assessment | eLearning
      >
    • Joshua Kerievsky
      On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 3:03 AM, Roman Pichler
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 23, 2010
        On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 3:03 AM, Roman Pichler <roman.pichler@...> wrote:
        Nice post. Like others in the agile community, I have used the term "product vision" to capture the essence of a product, to sketch what the product should roughly look like and do, and to galvanise everyone involved in the development effort: http://bit.ly/cSZspJ and http://amzn.to/crkiAW

        Hi Roman,

        Yes, product visioning is great.  

        For me, it is part of a larger practice called Chartering (http://www.industrialxp.org/projectChartering.html).  

        My friend III turned me on to Chartering many years ago and around 2002 I made it a regular part of our Agile practice, as I found it to be extremely helpful to our clients.    

        I've never included "metaphor" in Chartering and of late I'm seeing a power in product metaphor that is exciting. 
         
        best,
        jk
      • Roman Pichler
        I distinguish between the product vision and the project charter. The latter describes the relevant information to turn the vision into a successful product
        Message 3 of 12 , Jul 24, 2010
          I distinguish between the product vision and the project charter. The latter describes the relevant information to turn the vision into a successful product including the project org, the delivery date and the budget. Best regards, Roman

          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Joshua Kerievsky <joshua@...> wrote:
          >
          > On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 3:03 AM, Roman Pichler <
          > roman.pichler@...> wrote:
          >
          > > Nice post. Like others in the agile community, I have used the term
          > > "product vision" to capture the essence of a product, to sketch what the
          > > product should roughly look like and do, and to galvanise everyone involved
          > > in the development effort: http://bit.ly/cSZspJ and http://amzn.to/crkiAW
          >
          >
          > Hi Roman,
          >
          > Yes, product visioning is great.
          >
          > For me, it is part of a larger practice called Chartering (
          > http://www.industrialxp.org/projectChartering.html).
          >
          > My friend III turned me on to Chartering many years ago and around 2002 I
          > made it a regular part of our Agile practice, as I found it to be extremely
          > helpful to our clients.
          >
          > I've never included "metaphor" in Chartering and of late I'm seeing a power
          > in product metaphor that is exciting.
          >
          > best,
          > jk
          >
        • George Dinwiddie
          Josh, I really like this post. I think it goes beyond product vision (which sometimes is exactly the bicycle pictured at the bottom of the posting) to
          Message 4 of 12 , Jul 24, 2010
            Josh,

            I really like this post. I think it goes beyond "product vision" (which
            sometimes is exactly the bicycle pictured at the bottom of the posting)
            to "conceptual integrity." This is another of Fred Brook's terms that
            has been mostly ignored in our industry.

            I don't know if I've said so, before, but thanks for resurrecting
            "metaphor" from the software development trash heap.

            - George

            On 7/23/10 10:59 AM, Joshua Kerievsky wrote:
            >
            >
            > On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 3:03 AM, Roman Pichler
            > <roman.pichler@... <mailto:roman.pichler@...>>
            > wrote:
            >
            > Nice post. Like others in the agile community, I have used the term
            > "product vision" to capture the essence of a product, to sketch what
            > the product should roughly look like and do, and to galvanise
            > everyone involved in the development effort: http://bit.ly/cSZspJ
            > and http://amzn.to/crkiAW
            >
            >
            > Hi Roman,
            >
            > Yes, product visioning is great.
            >
            > For me, it is part of a larger practice called Chartering
            > (http://www.industrialxp.org/projectChartering.html).
            >
            > My friend III turned me on to Chartering many years ago and around 2002
            > I made it a regular part of our Agile practice, as I found it to be
            > extremely helpful to our clients.
            >
            > I've never included "metaphor" in Chartering and of late I'm seeing a
            > power in product metaphor that is exciting.
            > best,
            > jk
            >
            >
            >

            --
            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
            * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
            Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
            Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
            ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          • Joshua Kerievsky
            On Sat, Jul 24, 2010 at 7:57 AM, George Dinwiddie ... Thanks George. I love the term conceptual integrity and didn t know it originated with Brooks. I don t
            Message 5 of 12 , Jul 24, 2010
              On Sat, Jul 24, 2010 at 7:57 AM, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
              I really like this post.  I think it goes beyond "product vision" (which
              sometimes is exactly the bicycle pictured at the bottom of the posting)
              to "conceptual integrity."  This is another of Fred Brook's terms that
              has been mostly ignored in our industry.

              Thanks George.  I love the term "conceptual integrity" and didn't know it originated with Brooks.  

              I don't know if I've said so, before, but thanks for resurrecting
              "metaphor" from the software development trash heap.

              Thanks again.  It surely needs a lot of care and attention to be fully brought back to life.

              --
              best,
              jk

              --
              Joshua Kerievsky
              Founder, CEO
              Industrial Logic, Inc.
              Web: http://industriallogic.com
              Twitter: @JoshuaKerievsky, @IndustrialLogic

              Amplify Your Agility
              Coaching | Training | Assessment | eLearning
            • Jared Spool
              ... Joshua, Great article. Nicely done. I m curious, though. Have you thought about what happens when you have functionality, features, or user needs that
              Message 6 of 12 , Jul 24, 2010

                On Jul 22, 2010, at 12:58 AM, Joshua Kerievsky wrote:

                I blogged today about "Product Metaphor" and thought it may be of interest to folks on this list.  

                Here's the link: http://bit.ly/ ch1ztZ


                Joshua,

                Great article. Nicely done.

                I'm curious, though. Have you thought about what happens when you have functionality, features, or user needs that extend beyond the metaphor?

                This has always been the trap of metaphors, since the days of desktops and windows. Sure, you can throw out a document by putting it in the trash can, but how do you eject a disk? (Apple had you put it in the trash, which implied something different than removing it from the drive, while Microsoft had you "Eject" which didn't fit the metaphor.)

                Over the years, I've found metaphor-based design thinking to lock the designer into constraints that become unwieldy for innovation. If you're building something that hasn't been ever built before, chances are there isn't a metaphor which encompasses the behaviors you're looking for.

                What do you think?

                Jared

                Jared M. Spool
                User Interface Engineering
                510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
                e: jspool@... p: +1 978 327 5561
                http://uie.com  Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks  Twitter: @jmspool

              • Joshua Kerievsky
                ... Thanks Jared. (BTW, I loved your keynote speech at Agile2009!) ... Yes. Here s an example: For our eLearning software, we used to have a book metaphor.
                Message 7 of 12 , Jul 25, 2010
                  On Sat, Jul 24, 2010 at 9:14 AM, Jared Spool <jspool@...> wrote:
                  Great article. Nicely done.

                  Thanks Jared.  (BTW, I loved your keynote speech at Agile2009!) 

                  I'm curious, though. Have you thought about what happens when you have functionality, features, or user needs that extend beyond the metaphor?

                  Yes.  Here's an example:

                  For our eLearning software, we used to have a book metaphor.  We had several "interactive" books and would teach with these "books."    One day one of our instructors said "I want a playlist."  He needed a way to create a pathway through several of our books, for use in classrooms.   Books don't support that idea, so the metaphor didn't fit.  His need prompted us to reflect on our current metaphor and realize that a music metaphor would be a far better fit.

                  Now that we have a well-established music metaphor, we've had a few requests for "bookmarks."  :-)  

                  ...(to be continued, with responses to the rest of your response -- gotta back and leave for a trip now). 

                  --
                  best,
                  jk

                  --
                  Joshua Kerievsky
                  Founder, CEO
                  Industrial Logic, Inc.
                  Web: http://industriallogic.com
                  Twitter: @JoshuaKerievsky, @IndustrialLogic

                  Amplify Your Agility
                  Coaching | Training | Assessment | eLearning
                • Jared Spool
                  ... I guess that was my point. If you re using the metaphor as a way to brainstorm functionality and features ( if our software was a car, what would it be
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jul 26, 2010
                    On Jul 25, 2010, at 11:20 AM, Joshua Kerievsky wrote:

                    > For our eLearning software, we used to have a book metaphor. We had
                    > several "interactive" books and would teach with these "books."
                    > One day one of our instructors said "I want a playlist." He needed
                    > a way to create a pathway through several of our books, for use in
                    > classrooms. Books don't support that idea, so the metaphor didn't
                    > fit. His need prompted us to reflect on our current metaphor and
                    > realize that a music metaphor would be a far better fit.
                    >
                    > Now that we have a well-established music metaphor, we've had a few
                    > requests for "bookmarks." :-)

                    I guess that was my point.

                    If you're using the metaphor as a way to brainstorm functionality and
                    features ("if our software was a car, what would it be like?"), that
                    works, because you don't have to be dogmatic by sticking with the
                    metaphor.

                    However, if you try to build it out as a UI, you run into issues where
                    the metaphor doesn't support the innovation (because if you did, you
                    wouldn't be replacing it).

                    This is the current argument many designers have against Apple's iPad
                    & iPhone design, where elements, like the calendar and notebook, have
                    real-world metaphorical references to their traditional form factors
                    (think the spiral "binding" and yellow lines on the notepad). Their
                    argument is that it's holding back on what the design could be.

                    The counter to their argument is that you need to ground the design in
                    something users are familiar with. If it's too novel, then they can't
                    grok it, because none of their previous experience helps them with the
                    new interface.

                    So, it's a hard line to tow: make it like existing real-world elements
                    (the metaphor approach) or innovate?

                    Jared

                    Jared M. Spool
                    User Interface Engineering
                    510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
                    e: jspool@... p: +1 978 327 5561
                    http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool
                  • Larry Constantine
                    ... approach) or innovate? Wonderful play on metaphors. Intentional? The old expression is to toe the line (to position one s toes on the line) but your
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jul 26, 2010

                      Jared wrote:

                       

                      > So, it's a hard line to tow: make it like existing real-world elements (the metaphor approach) or innovate?

                       

                      Wonderful play on metaphors. Intentional? The old expression is “to toe the line” (to position one’s toes on the line) but your innovation (to pull the rope, another possible nautical nod) also works. Either very clever or lucky slip, which can also be a route to design success. :-)

                       

                      As to real-world metaphors, I thought this had been largely settled a decade ago, except at Apple. Any presentation technique should be used only in so far as it enhances usability and the user experience. When it is mere decoration it begins to cross the line, and when it gets in the way, it should be discarded. Interaction design at its best creates new metaphors that work so well that they seem to users as if they were already familiar, always there. We call this the “Of course, I knew it!” experience. The user didn’t know it until they encountered it, but it seems so right that it feels like they have always known.

                      --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow
                        Professor |  University of Madeira | Funchal , Portugal
                        Institute Fellow | Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute | www.M-ITI.org

                      ,___

                    • Joshua Kerievsky
                      ... Hi Jared, I m not sure. I think it depends on how dogmatic one is. For example, we re likely going to experiment with a save this (or my) location link
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jul 26, 2010
                        On Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 7:31 AM, Jared Spool <jspool@...> wrote:
                        Now that we have a well-established music metaphor, we've had a few requests for "bookmarks."  :-)

                        I guess that was my point.

                        If you're using the metaphor as a way to brainstorm functionality and features ("if our software was a car, what would it be like?"), that works, because you don't have to be dogmatic by sticking with the metaphor.

                        However, if you try to build it out as a UI, you run into issues where the metaphor doesn't support the innovation (because if you did, you wouldn't be replacing it).

                        Hi Jared,

                        I'm not sure.  I think it depends on how dogmatic one is.  

                        For example, we're likely going to experiment with a "save this (or my) location" link on pages in our eLearning.  Will that break our music metaphor?  A bookmark symbol would surely break it, while a simple link may be just fine (though the users will ultimately be the judge).   
                         
                        This is the current argument many designers have against Apple's iPad & iPhone design, where elements, like the calendar and notebook, have real-world metaphorical references to their traditional form factors (think the spiral "binding" and yellow lines on the notepad). Their argument is that it's holding back on what the design could be.

                        Not sure about calendar, but notebook feels refreshingly simple and so easy to use for quickly storing/pasting notes on iPad/iPhone.   I don't see what kind of innovation one would need from it, though I am low on sleep.

                        The counter to their argument is that you need to ground the design in something users are familiar with. If it's too novel, then they can't grok it, because none of their previous experience helps them with the new interface.

                        I do wonder why we can't "save locations" in music - why is that only limited to books and bookmarks?   Maybe because older music players couldn't support such a feature.  Surely iTunes could easily record a saved location inside a song (or sound file) and store that location for easy retrieval.   Seems to support the idea that the metaphor is holding the designers back, yet it need not be the case, at least in this example. 

                        So, it's a hard line to tow: make it like existing real-world elements (the metaphor approach) or innovate?

                        Tough choice. Both would be nice! 

                        best
                        jk

                      • William Pietri
                        ... iTunes certainly could do that if they wanted, and some other audio players definitely do. Not just modern MP3 players, either; some CD players offered
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jul 28, 2010
                          On 07/26/2010 10:31 PM, Joshua Kerievsky wrote:
                          > I do wonder why we can't "save locations" in music - why is that only
                          > limited to books and bookmarks? Maybe because older music players
                          > couldn't support such a feature. Surely iTunes could easily record a
                          > saved location inside a song (or sound file) and store that location
                          > for easy retrieval. Seems to support the idea that the metaphor is
                          > holding the designers back, yet it need not be the case, at least in
                          > this example.
                          >

                          iTunes certainly could do that if they wanted, and some other audio
                          players definitely do. Not just modern MP3 players, either; some CD
                          players offered bookmarking features. Even the first CD player had A->B
                          looping, a primitive bookmarking, and it also had track indexes, a
                          system for in-track skip points that has since fallen into disuse. I
                          think that suggests why iTunes doesn't have bookmarking: most people
                          don't want to do that with music.

                          With novels and other linear reads, people will use a placeholder, so
                          the iPod does keep track of where you left off in audiobooks and
                          podcasts. Serious bookmarking, though, mainly happens with non-linear
                          books, like textbooks and references. Those aren't popular as
                          audiobooks, presumably because of audio's essential linearity.

                          So I don't think it's the metaphor that is holding the designer back in
                          this case. It's the medium, and the user's desire.

                          William
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