Book Review: Subject to Change

I recently read Subject to Change (as part of the UX Book Club). The book covers some interesting areas but I wouldn't recommend it to my fellow UX practitioners. I would recommend the book to marketers, product mangers, strategists and R&D teams. I know many UX devotees give Krug's “Don’t make me think” to their clients and colleagues. This is the new book to give instead: it's a great introduction to experience design, is easy to read and is short (just a nudge over 160 pages).

Some of the key points from the book are really interesting, but not new to any UXer worth their salt. Yup, we know products are all about the user experience, and yup, we know design efforts should be focused on the user experience, and yup, we know customers only care about their experience of a product or service. Oh and yup, we know that qualitative and quantitative research are both really important. But, for product managers, marketers et al, this could be a great "see, here it is in black and white" resource to take up to the head honchos.

The examples given are the most interesting parts of the book for me. The revolutionary "you press the button, and we do the rest" design of the Kodak camera is a great example of a company recognising the importance of customer experience way back in the 1880s (although the book does keep bringing up this one example a lot).

The discussion around designing a "system" of products that work together instead of one product with all features crammed in is great and stuck with me a after finishing the book. They refer to Apple's iPod + iTunes + computer combo as an example of this product ecosystem approach. I would have liked to see some extra, non-Apple examples of where this ecosystem approach has been successful (is anyone else tired of Apple always being the only exemplar? I know they are great and all that, but....a bit of variety, please).

So, if you're a user experience designer/architect/consultant, do a quick scan of this book yourself, then pass it on to a marketer, manager or strategist in need.

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