April 29, 2006

(Database) Feature Fatigue?

Heard a great story on APM's Future Tense about "Feature Fatigue." Jon Gordon interviewed Roland Rust (U Maryland) about his recent Harvard Business Review article (Feb. 2006) called Defeating Feature Fatigue.

From the citation in PubMed (who knew they indexed HBR? but I digress): "Consider a coffeemaker that offers 12 drink options, a car with more than 700 features on the dashboard, and a mouse pad that's also a clock, calculator, and FM radio. All are examples of 'feature bloat', or 'featuritis', the result of an almost irresistible temptation to load products with lots of bells and whistles. The problem is that the more features a product boasts, the harder it is to use."

Rust pointed out in the interview with Jon Gordon that he was testing college students and THEY were overwhelmed with all these extra features.

Fascinating stuff. What does it tell librarians and database vendors about how library databases are designed? And how patrons are reacting to them?

ps, I got an iHome radio yesterday, and not only does it come with batteries for the backup, the batteries were INSTALLED, and the clock was set to the correct time. How’s that for anticipating user needs?!

1 comment:

Maxine said...

My own experience is that I don't use most of the features that come with my gadgets-- I use the functions I bought the gadget for. I don't want that little datebook on my cell phone (but I do love the games) or my mp3. There are better gadgets for that, including my old reliable paper datebook.

Most of the users I talk to (in my admittedly short career) are confused by the multiple options on database interfaces, and have trouble finding even the primary functions. Unless they're sophisticated users, though, the "quick search" is frustrating too.

Congrats on the iHome!