Does your backpack come with an instructional video?

Well, does it?

I mean, that would be pretty ridiculous, right? Who needs a video to learn how to use a backpack? How bad would a backpack need to be that it needs you to sit through a 30min — thirty minute — video to figure out how to use it.

Well, I present to you the instructional video for the best bag I’ve ever owned:

Products are like icebergs

Sometimes, nay almost always, the best products are like icebergs: they’re easy to comprehend at a glance but they’re deep. I’ve just answered a production questionnaire that asked, “What are your favourite apps of all time?” and my answers were Slack, Pic-Tap-Go, SublimeText, Chrome, and Spotify. In each case, it’s pretty obvious what these apps do as soon as you open them.

Open Slack, and you can message a group. But dig deeper and you can change the channel colours and share that with your team; or pipe RSS feeds into a channel with /feed; or set custom responses, etc.

Pic-Tap-Go just let’s you pick a photo, tap a filter, and export it. And yet, you can crop a photo, rotate it, change the filter intensity, combine filters, save that combination, etc.

SublimeText opens and it’s obviously just a text editor. And yet, there’s nearly 4000 packages to extend the functionality including a package to help you learn SublimeText. And there’s config files. And themes. And keyboard shortcuts. And keyboard shortcut combinations

You get the picture.

Chrome is just a web browser. Although with the Chrome store, and on the likes of a Chromebook basically use Chrome as their operating system.

Spotify… yeah, just plays music until next week when your Discover Weekly playlist comes out and you find a ton of new music. And then December rolls around and your Top Songs playlist blows you away. And it streams music faster than any other service with rarely a pause between track changes

And the Peak Design Everyday Backpack is just a simple grey bag. I took it out for the first time at the weekend and I got some good use out of it: it was holding my camera, two lenses, a kite, and a variety of toys for the kids.

But after watching the video I discovered probably 6 features I didn’t even know the bag had. No, I just counted, and I learnt 7 things. Seven things in this simple looking bag.

How is your product like an iceberg?

Do users instantly understand how to use it? Do they understand what it is? And how do you guide them to the depths of functionality? Where are the depths that the experts can get to? How do you get them there?

Perhaps your backpack doesn’t need a 30min instructional video but hopefully it needs something. If your product lacks the need for education, it’s because it’s missing depth. Where’s the functionality? Where’s the user journey from competent novice to superhero?

The need for education isn’t a deficiency but an abundance of functionality with a carefully constructed initial experience.


Originally published at jamie.ideasasylum.com on January 25, 2017.