The Change Function

In The Change Function, author Pip Coburn explains why certain technologies get widely adopted and others do not. In Coburn’s words, “The Change Function says that users change habits—which might include adopting a new technology—if and only if the pain of their current situation is greater than their total perceived pain of making the switch to a proposed solution for their pain.”

In a nutshell, Coburn dispels the “build it and they will come” myth, which has obvious application for businesses of all stripes. According to Coburn, without a user-friendly focus, all the features and functions in the world won’t help convince a consumer who feels confused by mixed messages.

The classic case study is the overwhelming success of the iPod, which has achieved iconic status by simply adopting the Mies van der Rohe philosophy of design: less is more. What folks outside of Apple are only gradually coming to realize is that “feature creep” turns off far more than it turns on. If only Apple would design a universal remote.