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Pound Takes
Ideas on Engineering Breakthrough Applications

Release New Features Early and Often: Part I

If you design, develop or manage products, you’re certainly familiar with the new feature request. Let’s be honest: Adding features is what product managers, customers and businesses love to discuss, because they view new features as advancing the product. If you’re a more seasoned product manager or designer, you’ll know that eliminating and refining features is just as important as adding ones, but we’ll leave that for another discussion. Here, we’ll focus on audacious additions.

If you’ve experienced the excitement of a juicy idea for a new feature, you likely also have been surprised to run into push back from your engineering or implementation team. This can be summarized as the ever-present tension of “my vision” vs. “our reality.” Meaning, while I see dollar signs and adoption, you see implementation headaches, lack of resources and an overflowing backlog of to-dos.

This is likely because both of you are approaching the feature with an all-or-nothing, on/off mindset.

Almost every customer I’ve ever dealt with — and most senior managers who are funding product development — understand the big picture of a new feature or product addition. Even the most detail-minded customers, who provide specs on how the end product should look and function, are solely focused on the end game. We’ll call this the on/off approach — either done or not done.
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Field Notes: Live Search/Auto complete

What is it?
In the last few years, a modification to search on many websites and applications has become popular. As the user begins to enter search criteria, a list of possible results is “suggested” just below the input field. Those suggestions can be clicked on or selected with the keyboard arrows without requiring the user to type out their full term. This method is a shortcut for long search terms such as “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!” and is especially helpful when the user is unsure of the full spelling of a term such as “perseverance.”

While real time suggestions have been standard issue on desktop software, it is relatively novel and new on websites due to network constraints and the previous implementation difficulties (those difficulties have been resolved by libraries such as JQuery). The first time I remember seeing this method used was when Google set up Google Suggest in their labs - it’s since been released to the Google home page and is now prevalent on most search engines under various names such as Search Assist and Live Search. I’ve also heard auto-complete and dynamic search used to describe this technique.
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