Products as nouns, products as verbs

I don’t really know how to process this yet or what to do with it, so I’m just plunking it on my blog and ruminating about it. From Pulse Laser via Signal vs Noise:

Products are not nouns but verbs. A product designed as a noun will sit passively in a home, an office, or pocket. It will likely have a focus on aesthetics, and a list of functions clearly bulleted in the manual… but that’s it.

Products can be verbs instead, things which are happening, that we live alongside. We cross paths with our products when we first spy them across a crowded shop floor, or unbox them, or show a friend how to do something with them. We inhabit our world of activities and social groups together… a product designed with this in mind can look very different.

Example …

Take Amazon: They don’t just sell products, they sell the whole life-cycle. You discover a book, select it using the reviews, consider it, hang onto it in your basket, finally choose to buy it. Wishlists and permanent book addresses (suitable for emails) understand that, even before you buy it, a book is a social object, present in our social world. Then afterwards you can recommend or review the book, and the site helps (even prompts!) you to sell the book on second-hand.

Lots to chew on as I develop products every day … how to design the product for its whole lifecycle:

  • Hearing about it
  • Seeing it
  • Wanting it
  • Learning about it
  • Getting it
  • Opening it
  • Examining it
  • Using it
  • Displaying it
  • Talking about it
  • Dare I say loving it?
  • Carrying/transporting it
  • Discarding it

How to make each of those experiences remarkable … even the one at the end, when you’re finished with the product or moving on to another product.

[tags] products, noun, verb, social, john koetsier [/tags]

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I like your breakdown of steps, John, it makes it easier to visualize what the original post was saying. Your last item, “discarding it”, made me think of the word “sustainability”. All manufacturers have to be concerned about sustainability nowdays, which means they have to give serious consideration as to how their products will eventually be disposed of or recycled once their effective life ends.

    Amazon is to be admired for addressing the issue by encouraging used book sales!

    Suggestion: change the word “discarding” to “recycling”. You’d be surprised how far that word can take you. It’s not that I’m a rabid Greenie or anything, but as an engineer, the concept just makes sense from an ‘efficient use of resources’ point of view.

  • Good point, Robert. I do really need a better word in there … something that encompasses any way that you end your relationship with a product – whether you give it away, donate it, recycle it, trash it, or just are finished with it (as in, for instance, a software product).