Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Concept Gap

Peter Merholz is on a bit of a tear these days -- every day seems to reveal a great new post. The other day, he wrote about a conference presentation covering the concept gap in product development.
"He identifies the crux of the problem as a gap between the marketers and the engineers, where the marketers develop a requirements document full of features and great ideas, but the engineers need to develop a specification that precisely labels how the thing will work, and the two are never well reconciled. Marketers need to get more concrete, and engineers more abstract, so they can meet up in the middle and ensure that ideas flow successfully."
My interaction design work mostly takes place smack dab in the middle of that gap. A recent restructuring actually put interaction design as part of the marketing department, meaning that we're responsible for defining and prototyping the user experience on new products, then working with graphics, content folk, and developers to shepherd the project through the final stages.

We've seen the pitfalls and difficulties with the gap he talks about, but the challenge keeps things interesting. George linked to an article about Surviving Course Development Wars that is probably the elearning equivalent.

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