Breaking the Suck Threshold

One of my favorite blogs ever was Kathy Sierra’sCreating Passionate Users.’ She had over 400 posts, most with some of the most brilliant and funny graphics, covering user design, development, management, and anything else that she felt passionate about. Unfortunately, she discontinued her site back in April 2007. Every once in a while, I go back and browse through her content for fun. Here’s one of my favorite graphics:


The idea of the suck threshold is that when most new platforms or products are released, a good portion of your end users will respond by saying, "Well, this sucks." The longer you take in providing them with the features and….wait for it….business value that they need to be productive, the less likely you are to win them over once you deliver. That means you need to deliver quickly. How best to achieve this? Be clear on business priotities up front, and deliver the functionality that gives you the most bang for the buck first, and then iterate. Short iterations with fewer features allow you to adapt and change as feedback comes in from your end users, possibly changing the direction of your initial planning efforts.

End users tend to do a funny thing – once they see something partially completely, they change their minds about what is important. You need to be able to react and adapt to meet those needs. But if you do this, you'll find yourself crossing that passion threshold much more quickly.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of, a blockchain-based video technology company.