Design Prioritization & The Kano Model7 Mar, 2012
It happens to every project—there are a dozen feature requests in your backlog, but your team only has enough time to implement no more than four of them before the next scheduled product release date. Normally, you do one of the following:
- Start at the top of the list and work your way down until you run out of time
- Pick the features that the CEO/VP/Client added to the backlog
- Bust your ass to do a mediocre job squeezing all 12 features into the next release (8 of which were inadequately tested and stand a good chance of crashing the entire app/site)
Here’s another option to prioritize what matters: The Kano Model.
Using The Kano Model To Prioritize Your Feature Set
The Kano model is a product development and customer satisfaction theory that was developed in the 1980s by quality management consultant, Noriaki Kano. The Kano Model charts three attributes across two dimensions/axis.
In terms of prioritization, let’s focus on the three attributes in the context of designing a new toaster (mmmmm, toast): Basic, Performance and Excitement/Delight.
- Basic Attributes – These are bare minimum features that a product must have in order to be viable. In terms of our toaster, basic attributes would include things like slots for inserting bread, the ability to toast the bread, a power cord, etc.
- Performance Attributes – Most products compete on performance. Performance attributes can include elements like cost, safety and reliability. Automobiles often tout miles per gallon or horsepower—more performance attributes. In terms of our toaster, a performance attribute could be the speed at which it can prepare perfect toast e.g. less than 30 seconds
- Excitement/Delight Attributes – Delight attributes are novel and unexpected. They’re thoughtful details that get people excited and talking about your product. If our toaster is capable of emblazoning a beautiful image on your toast every time it cooks, that would be an example of a delight attribute
In order to aid the prioritization process, add one of the Kano Model attributes to each item in your backlog. Clearly, anything classified as Basic must be included. The tricky part is applying value to Performance vs. Delight attributes. You can have a solid product that meets user expectations based solely on their Basic and Performance attributes. But if you’re trying to make a splash and leverage word of mouth to build buzz & market share, consider including a feature that will surprise and delight your customers.
For more on the Kano Model check out:
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