The Emotional Journey of Losing Feature Control
Navigating the Emotional Complexities When Your Product is Acquired
Losing feature control over a product you've nurtured from its inception can be a deeply emotional and complex experience. It's akin to watching a piece of art being retouched by someone else, changing the essence of what you originally envisioned. When a major corporation acquires your "baby," several dynamics come into play.
Firstly, scale changes the design equation. What worked for a smaller audience may undergo transformations to suit broader needs or to align with the larger corporation's existing design philosophy. This sometimes means compromising on the originality or the specific features that made the product special in the first place.
Secondly, a shift in design philosophy might occur. Your initial design choices may have been rooted in deep research and consideration, tailored for a specific user journey. However, in a new environment, these choices may be reassessed, reshaped, or even removed.
Moreover, decision-making often becomes a multi-layered process, making it difficult to maintain the purity of your original vision. You're no longer the sole artist, but part of an ensemble, where each member adds their own brushstroke. The final output might look like a collaborative effort rather than a realization of your original vision.
In such a situation, it's crucial to maintain a balance between detachment and engagement. While you may not have the same level of control, your expertise still holds value. Act as a steward for the product's original intent, ensuring that its core identity isn't lost amidst the changes.
Also, see this as an opportunity for growth. Exposure to different perspectives can lead to a richer, more robust final product. Even if your original vision isn't fully preserved, the essence may still live on in a form that reaches more people and solves new problems.
Lastly, remember that design is an ever-evolving field. Loss of control doesn't signify the end, but rather marks a new chapter in the lifecycle of your creation. Your role transitions from being the sole creator to a guardian of its legacy, and there's something profoundly rewarding in that as well.
As the first designer on the Applications design team, working under Robert Kondrk, I had the unique but challenging role of ensuring that all applications were both internet and Aqua compliant. This task was far from a simple checkbox; it involved navigating both the technical and aesthetic complexities of aligning different apps with evolving design standards. While this role made me an invaluable asset to the organization, it also led to friction with other team members, notably Glenn Reid. Glenn had reservations about his iPicture software being folded into the iLife suite as iPhoto, fearing the dilution of his original vision in order to meet broader compliance standards. Despite these tensions, my role was crucial in establishing a coherent design philosophy that took both internet capabilities and Aqua compliance into account, ensuring a unified and familiar experience across Apple's application suite.
The checklist for Creating Aqua Applications starts on page 263: https://🥀.fm/f/j7SprW
A special invitation from Michael…
In the spirit of craftsmanship that has always driven our work, I'm excited to share a unique opportunity to be part of a narrative that redefined the digital era. To honor the contributions of our community, I am offering a 20% discount which is good forever for those who join as annual members in the next chapter of this adventure: a book that captures the essence of our design breakthroughs.
Founding members will be acknowledged on the book's donors page in addition to their year membership. Your support is pivotal in bringing this story to print—a story that intertwines technology, design, and the human experience in ways that have forever altered how we interact with the digital world.
Your engagement as either an annual member or a founding member will not only help preserve the rich history of design that we have crafted together but will also continue to inspire future generations of creators and innovators.
I look forward to rekindling the magic that we created and sharing it with the world through your eyes and stories.
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