This post kicks off an idea I’ve wanted to start writing about for awhile, but never found the right way to without a long post with a bunch of examples. It seems more appropriate to offer examples of the idea as I find them, and to let the tags tie the posts together. So, welcome to the debut of Outputs vs. Outcomes.
Wha? Outputs vs. Outcomes?
I often notice in applications an emphasis on surfacing the relatively raw outputs of various data aggregations. How many comments, followers, votes, signups, views, clicks, stars are questions commonly answered by social apps, and people using the application are expected to derive what they can from that.
But for my time, raw numbers leave application experiences stale and one-dimensional, defaulting to what computers prefer to offer rather than what works for non-calculator type people.
Where products really succeed, you’ll find a focus on creating great outcomes. That’s done by hooking up creative transformation of outputs (the raw numbers) into something that supports the needs and goals of the people using the software.
The examples in the ongoing Outputs vs. Outcomes series illustrate the difference better than my words can, and for each example I’ll declare it a win for Output or Outcome. Use the eponymous tag to find all posts on this theme, and call me out wherever you think I’m not being fair.
Kinzin’s Monthly Photos by Mail: Outcome Wins
Via Megan, I learned about a really cool service added to Vancouver-developed Kinzin: your top 10 photos are automatically printed and mailed out to people who prefer physical prints for just under $4 (to Canada; $3 in the US) by monthly subscription.
I haven’t gone through the execution yet, but it’s an instant win for Outcomes as a product concept: a low monthly fee lets you generate happiness out of your online activity for someone who can’t use the web. This passes the Kathy Sierra ‘Make your users rock’ test with flying colours. Congratulations to the Kinzin team.