User Experience Accessibility vs Economic Accessibility: The Biggest Debate in Product Development

Whenever developing a new product in the field of consumer electronics, or any field for that matter, one inevitably encounters the following the debate: should I make my product the best it can be, or the best it can be for cheap? Those last two words are the sole reason this conundrum exists, and they have been the central point of countless meetings, conference calls, and college lectures since the American industrial revolution. However, there is something fundamentally wrong about this debate, and in fact, the debate itself shouldn’t even exist. This battle between the best possible user experience and the most accessible price tag stems from an idea of two different facets of accessibility: accessibility through affordability, and accessibility through ease of use. Seemingly, these two accessibilities are parallel and completely incompatible, at least the countless companies that have faced this struggle would have you believe it to be that way. Typically companies approach choosing one of these accessibilities to focus on by determining what approach would better suit their product, usually coming to a crude conclusion by asking themselves a question along the lines of: do I want my product to find itself in the hands of a ton of somewhat content users, or a fewer number of happier ones? If the is the former choice, than the better choice would theoretically be to create a cheaper product, one more accessible to a wider range of users due to a price more of them would be able and willing to pay. On the other hand, if the answer to that question is the latter choice, then theoretically the better route to take would be creating a more refined and, as a result, more costly product. However, the reality that product developers who follow this strategy fail to pick up on is that you don’t need to sacrifice one of these accessibilities in favor of the other, you don’t have to spite your nose to save your face. You don’t need to spend exponentially more to get a better, more refined product, you just need the right people. While yes, one avenue of acquiring great employees is through enticing them with flashy benefits and bigger paychecks, both requiring increased expenses, you can easily reach the same result with a great product. If you feel that you have a great product, and you can convince others that you do, then the people who are working on that product will pour their heart and soul into it. This is another misconception in the field of product development that is appalling to me: the notion that the most important people to sell your product to are the press, when this is far from the truth and really, the most important group of people to convince are your employees. If you truly see greatness in your product, and you can convince people that are working on it of its greatness too, you’ll never need stock options, a kombucha fridge in your office, or one month of paid vacation days, if you can convince the right people of your product’s greatness, they’ll put everything into ensuring it’s success, and you won’t have to spend an extra dime, then and only then, you can sell the world on your product, and make it truly accessible, in all definitions of the word.

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