What We Need
Ideally, additional features and providing options should be great for users. Sadly, though, it seems too many companies run with the idea of choice in the wrong direction, leaning towards the dark side of a sales-driven vision. It is always a good time to regain sight of the future. Responsible companies are out there, hiring great people. Be a part of what's good in the world, however you can.
There are many sales-driven industries. As an example, imagine a company that sells shoes. The company could be Payless, Nordstrom's, or the high-end Jimmy Choo. The companies have shoes of different styles and prices. One might want to own Jimmy Choo shoes, but, at checkout, only find themselves in the Payless or Nordstrom lines. Taking a few steps back to examine what is best for the buyer, the ideal situation is purchasing shoes that have great style, last for a while, are not expensive, and fit exceptionally well. Of these qualities, shoppers will naturally rank them differently depending on their situations. At a glance, it's great that so many options are available, people from all walks of life experience a taste of individuality or comfort on their feet.
The lesson to be taught for the shoe company and perhaps all others is in how much variety is allowed. For the shoe company, focusing on only a few shoes might be a clever route. To sell twelve varieties compared to three is a world of difference for everyone. The designing, producing, and marketing for the company are tightened up; for the consumer, their options are trimmed, but the quality is, hopefully, increased due to concentrated efforts.
For the company that continues to release twelve shoes a year, they might continue to not fit so well; they might continue to cost beyond what a consumer will pay; they also might break after a few weeks of use—I believe this the result of a sales-driven company. The company looks to do its customers good by giving options upon options, but complete design is passed up. A complete design would ensure shoes fit comfortably. The shoe could last a decade and be easily repaired. The styling would be timeless. The materials and manufacturing minimized waste and resources. The cost might even take a slight dive too, depending on one's perspective of durability and what is gained in the long term.
If all companies were to suddenly adopt such a policy it would have to be in a dream, but it is important to consider what is ideal. As designers and consumers, we must have what is ideal in our minds—from there, it is up to us to create and discover it. For the designer of the shoe, the ideal situation is working at a company that only releases a select amount each year. For the consumer, it means investing in yourselves and spending in responsible ways. The sales-driven company can make money quickly by teasing ideas of a great deals, but poorly designed products are used only until the next one hits the shelves. Payment plans or just saving up, like we do as kids, could be the different between waiting in line once everyone five years for a great product and once every six months for something less expensive. When possible, I urge everyone to delay purchasing what is not within reach. Please, do not settle for less.
Posted August 19th, 2012.