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Pound Takes » Blog Archive » Ingredients for a breakthrough
Ideas on Engineering Breakthrough Applications

Ingredients for a breakthrough

Breakthroughs are one of those things that are hard to define, but easy to spot when you see them. Like love, no one can agree on a definition, but we all know it when we experience it. For our purposes, we’ll assume that breakthroughs exceed user’s expectations in terms of design, engineering, and utility. In other words, the product is beautiful, useful and “just works.” Remember the first time you used Net Flix or Gmail?

If you’re in the business of developing applications or running a web business, your seeking breakthroughs.

It’s a reasonable conclusion that you need expertise in three key areas to develop breakthrough applications for the web: design, engineering and product strategy. The need for these disciplines are pretty easy to defend.

  • Engineering: If it’s buggy or won’t scale, users will become frustrated and abandon it.
  • Design: If it’s clumsy or hard to use, it won’t reach critical mass of adoption.
  • Product Strategy: If the product isn’t needed, there’s no market to support it.

There are certainly other valuable areas of expertise that we require such as QA and documentation, but those are areas that level off in terms of impact. They are required, but once a minimum level is satisfied, the value added to the product diminishes. The areas listed above, however, can be leveraged as competitive advantages and bring increasingly added value to the product. While I am sure the iPhone had great technical writers, it was the world class engineers that managed to fit a full operating system on a device smaller than your hand.

It’s these areas that we should be fostering at our product-driven companies. And, for the most part, they are. The overlooked element of this mix, is how you plan and embark on a project plan to best allow them to work together.

But that’s for another post.

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