Friday, June 06, 2008

Two models for trying out new features

Google has their act together with this experiment in which they allow users to experiment with potential features of gmail. Participation is optional--so they're not going to force something on a user they don't want/need. They are demonstrating a degree of modularity in that individual features can be turned on/off. They're collecting feedback automatically and will let the users decide what's valuable to them. It's an extremely Agile method for rolling out software features. Google's leveraging the advantages inherit in being a provider of Internet web applications as well--this is much more difficult with traditional applications.

Compare this to Apple's methods.. The general public is kept completely in the dark about potential new features until some big-bang style roll-out. While they obviously do extensive usability testing, all the design, testing, and refinements are held close to the chest. Given Apple's design cohesiveness, it's obviously all managed by a fairly small group rather than through a lot of contributors. Apple's had some pretty good luck with this method--which is a stark contrast to Google's.


Blogger turboladen said...

I think a key element between both of these companies with regards to the features that they implement, is that the amount of features that they add between each release is fairly small.

The feature set delta from Tiger to Leopard wasn't really that huge, when you compare it to the delta between XP and Vista. Apple kept the changes directed at specific goals, and probably spent a lot of time testing out that small delta in changes. Same thing with the iPhone 2...

Google doesn't seem to make many drastic changes to their apps either. In fact, I usually don't even know that they've changed anything until I read lifehacker.

3:16 PM  

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