Quarter-inch Holes

Sell your benefits, not your features. It’s a common mantra for marketers, but one that doesn’t always filter down to us developers. In an article for Forbes, Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor write,

bq.:http://www.forbes.com/global/2003/1013/032.html Managers need to realize that customers, in effect, “hire” products to do specific “jobs.” That’s one reason why retail formats like Home Depot and Lowe’s have become so successful: Their stores are literally organized around jobs to be done.

The next time you sit down and think about how you’re going to market your project or that awesome new start-up you’re working on, think about what jobs your customers are hiring your product for. The drill I have in my garage is cordless, has a lightweight design, dual-speed range, keyless ratcheting chuck and more, but I really don’t care about those features. I care that that it can drill holes.

It struck me that while putting the finishing touches on Ryckbost.com today, Harmony is structured similarly to Home Depot and Lowe’s. In one sense, I hired Harmony to create and manage my content but beyond that, it’s structured so that there are two distinct ways to edit that content: a Theme editor, and a Content editor (subtly highlighted on Harmony’s homepage in the screenshots). Two “jobs”, managing my theme and creating new content, each organized within the app and accomplishing different goals.

I don’t think that Ordered List had that analogy in mind when Steve and John sat down to design the interface, but it seems to me that they have a great understanding of what the benefit is to end-user while building Harmony.

So here’s your challenge: when you’re working on marketing materials or writing an elevator pitch, sell the benefits not the features. You might be surprised at the results.



  1. February 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    While we didn’t have Lowe’s or Home Depot in mind, context sensitive design is always guiding us. :)

  2. June 10, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Posting a comment just to see my sexy gravatar

  3. June 11, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Great post. For anyone that is intimately familiar with a “product”, it’s hard to step back and think about the features.  It’s easier to list out all the specs than it is to articulate why those are important. I definitely need to practice this.