Selection criteria for technology platforms (Nuno)

Scoping the choice for #oosEU

A great well renowned author was once at a conference and one person in the audience asked: “You are such a great author, I love all your books, they are fantastic.. I wish I could write like you.. please tell me.. what kind of pencil do you use?

It’s a great story because it illustrates that you shouldn’t start by focusing on the tool but rather by obsessing about knowing your users and know what problem(s) you are trying to solve.

I know what to build, I just need to choose the platform

Until you’ve interviewed between 20–30 users you really don’t know your users and you’re building something based on hypothesis and assumptions. Progress at your own risk.

If however you’ve somehow managed to go through the necessary user research to build something valuable you’re now stepping into execution.

Execution is bound by the team and you should aim to first pick the best team rather than deciding on a platform and then choosing a team that works with that platform. This is best illustrated by considering these opposing views:

“I know we should use X — what are some good X people?”

“I have a good team — what does my team recommend we use?”

I would argue that the second statement is a much smarter approach to building something valuable.

Evaluating your team’s recommendation

You’ve gone through user research and you also have a team in place to work on your product. The team is pushing for a particular platform. Here are some concerns you should have in mind:

Ownership/Autonomy

You want to have ownership (or at least a way-out option) of the platform you choose so that your project doesn’t become dependent on a single platform/supplier.

Multi-lingual

You want a platform where you can make the contents available in multiple languages.

Ease of Use/Usability

You want a platform that is simple to use and according to the latest Web standards.

SEO Friendly URL structure

You want a platform that is SEO friendly from day one.

Open-Source 

You want to use open-source software. This ties to the first topic of autonomy and ownership as well.

Final Remarks

On the Web everything you see is HTML, CSS and JavaScript — that’s it, those are the core technologies of the Web and that’s a good thing. A web site from 1998 is still possible to access today — and that happens because these are open technologies that are not under the control of any single corporation — will you be able to say the same about your platform a few years down the road?

In recent years we’ve seen the explosion of the UX design discipline. It ties directly to providing customers and users things they value and deliver on your promises so that the users create an emotional connection with the experience.

Instead of worrying about the underlying technology aim instead for reaching as much people as possible with your platform and creating fans out of the experience. In my opinion that is a whole different game.

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