“Getting the details right is the difference between something that delights, and something customers tolerate.”
I didn't read Jeff Atwood's article about cat feeders right away, because it really is 90% about a cat product. It's also a terrific demonstration of what he's saying above. The first version of the product, a cat feeder, served a core need well enough for him to satisfice with its shortcomings because the net return in time savings and improved quality of life, for him anyway, was absolutely worth it.
The punchline is this.
- Be sure you're first getting the primary function more or less right.
- Do the work of listening to users every day.
- Refine the details of your product based on their feedback.
Listening to the opinions expressed by customers, obsessing over the details, and getting them right in the design is necessary and hard. But over time, if the points of pain are incrementally addressed and the design improved, the collection of those well-thought-out details embody a better experience.
Get better slowly, but do get better. Suck it up and feel your users' pain. Assure them that you're listening by sweating the details.