Add a New Feature? No. Make a New Product

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Earlier this year at Zurb, we asked ourselves, “How can we be more innovative and better at developing customers through our products?” As an interaction design firm with its own line of software-as-a-service products, we wanted to try something different. So when the opportunity arose to rework and improve a core screenshot annotation feature of our flagship product Notable, we didn’t do it. Instead, we made a whole new product, and the results have been outstanding.

Why make a new product instead of adding a feature?

Our mantra is “design for people.” This means that we avoid the trap of managing product too early in its life cycle and instead stay focused on developing customers.

When it came to building our annotation service, we wanted to be opportunistic and exploit new ways to earn relationships with people. This led us to a no-holds-barred approach to design and development that embraced marketing. We decided to give the team greater freedom to operate. We started fresh without the burden of existing code to work around and without existing customers to manage. We loosened up and challenged ourselves to dive deep and create novel solutions to known shortcomings in the design, interaction and code of Notable. This approach opened us up to a host of secondary benefits.

In this session, we’ll discuss the process and surprising results of our new approach.

Jeremy Britton


Jeremy Britton is Partner at ZURB, a 10-year old design consultancy with 75 start-ups under its belt. He acts as Design Lead and Strategist with the team. Setting up problems that people care about and then solving them in ways that work for businesses and delight customers are his focus at ZURB. He still loves to draw pictures, which comes in very handy at these tasks.

A San Francisco Bay Area native, he graduated from the hilltop forest known as UC Santa Cruz (Banana Slugs!) with a degree in Fine Art and an emphasis on digital media and electronics. His background in theatrical set design led him to create some pretty far out art installations during this period and his stint as a graduate teaching assistant gave him his jump into the web industry. “Getting a bunch of students to take their crazy ideas and actually turn them into something with Flash or on the web was extremely cool,” he said.

Before joining ZURB, Jeremy worked as an independent design consultant, then animator and interactive designer for, and later co-founded his own digital media company NING Empire, though not the Ning that closed $44 million in financing last year.

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Jeremy Britton
04/04/2011 8:00am PDT

Adam, shoot me an email at jeremy[at] and I’ll send you a copy!

Picture of Adam Burrell
Adam Burrell
04/03/2011 11:53am PDT

Could you please post a link to the slides? Thanks!

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Michael Krupit
03/29/2011 8:46am PDT

Perfect for a 20 min session. Good content and engaging presentation.

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