Product Engineering is like road construction…

December 8, 2011

Product Engineering is like road construction.  You have to satisfy the utility.  The utility of a road is pretty straight forward – I have to be able to drive my car from point A, to point B, without causing significant damage to my vehicle.

Utility is your table stake.

Without utility, you don’t have a product worth using.  In addition to utility, there are things like usability and aesthetics.  I’m not going to cover those in detail in this post.  However, both usability and aesthetics can be summed up into one word – desirable.

Imagine driving on a road with the below sign…

…probably not your favorite interchange, right?  What if it was someone’s first time driving in this area?  Or worse, what if the driver was a teenager who recently got their driver’s license?  This would be a nightmare.

Imagine driving on a road like this…

…this road barely has utility, if you ask me.  While you could drive on this road, you would have to slow way down and dodge this rough patch.

While both of these roads have utility (they are both passable), neither road is desirable for most drivers.

This picture of potholes is a good reminder that you can’t construct a road and then forget about it either, you have to maintain it.  Quick-dry patches over a long period of time result in a less-desirable road.  Ultimately, your users will find a different route.

Product engineering is no different.

Ultimately, you have to build a road that people want to drive on.  It has to be desirable!  Meaning, you have to build a product that people want to use.

For example, this is the recently renovated Keystone Ave. here in Carmel, IN…

…this is my preferred road for many reasons.

Just as drivers choose roads for their daily commutes, users choose products for their daily uses.  Make sure you’re building a product that people would find desirable, in addition to your table stakes.

Ask yourself – Is your product desirable?