Product quality as differentiator

I fully agree with Chris Coyier’s main point in Other People’s Busted Software is an Opportunity:

If you make software that does work reliably, you’ve got a leg up. Even if your customers don’t tell you “I like your software because it always works”, they’ll feel it and make choices around knowing it.

It feels like so many teams prioritize “innovation” over quality, so we end up getting stuck with products that have an overwhelming number of features but they all barely work—or the whole thing is slow and cumbersome. At some point we seem to have forgotten that product quality is not optional, and that it should be built in from the start.

Not only that, but in a “project” mindset teams just continue to move on to the next feature without taking the time to learn and improve what they shipped, as Marty Cagan points out in From Projects to Products:

Most efforts lose all hope of providing real value, and just try to get something shipped. Then as soon as they do finally ship, it’s not like they can iterate to improve the product. Instead, the people usually scatter off to their next assignments; nobody owning the outcome, and any important learnings from the effort likely lost.

This seems almost silly to point out, but a feature is not going to help your business if (1) it doesn’t add value and/or (2) it doesn’t work well. And yet somehow lots of teams put validation and quality on the backburner while they rush to get more features out. So Chris is right in his post: focusing on product quality is a huge differentiator in today’s software market.