Build a great product roadmap with the Kano Model. –

You’ve completed your research, engaged stakeholders and generated a list of features. What next? How do you choose where to put your budget? The Kano Model is a useful framework to prioritise features and build a roadmap for product success.

What is the Kano Model?

The Kano model, developed in the 1980s by Professor Noriaki Kano, is a theory of customer satisfaction. The model provides a method to categorise current or potential features of your product by how they affect the user experience.

According to the model, a feature of a product or service can fall into three categories:

  • Delighter
  • Performance
  • Baseline


A “Delighter” is a feature that- if included- will delight the user, but won’t have any impact if not included.

These unmet user needs are the game-changers for your product. Users generally won’t know they want these features until they’ve experienced them.

An example of a delighter is Spotify’s “Radio”. This feature helps you discover new music based on your taste. It’s not a direct ‘need’, but enhances the user experience when included.


A “Performance” feature has a linear effect on customer satisfaction. The better the implementation, the higher your satisfaction.

Users expect you to include these features but the level of expectancy will differ depending on the product or service. Often with Performance features there will be a breakpoint where the feature provides positive impact.

Consider free storage on Dropbox:

  • no free storage will cause a negative reaction
  • users may expect at least 2Gb
  • 4Gb+ will being to produce positive satisfaction


A “Baseline” feature will impact the experience negatively if not included. Unlike Baseline features it will not provide any positive impact, even if included.

Users expect these features and satisfaction will decrease if they are not included. As they are expected including them won’t cause a positive impact.

Bluetooth on a modern mobile phone is a good example. No bluetooth causes frustration. Having bluetooth doesn’t add satisfaction because is it the norm.

Negative and non-impact features

You can also place features in the final category; ‘negative’ or ‘non-impact’. These are features that either have no impact, or worse, have a negative impact if included.

You should identify these and remove them.

Building your UX roadmap

There is plenty to each of these steps, but at a basic level:

  • Research your audience and profile their needs.
  • Generate a potential list of features for your product.
  • Label them based on the Kano model categories.

Now you can build out your roadmap.

Begin with your Baseline features

First let’s make sure you’re product performs to a minimum standard. Without getting the basics in place you’ll hear feedback like:

“Yes feature X (Delighter) is excellent, but if it can’t do A, B or C (Baseline) its useless to me.”

We’ve all experienced products like this in the past.

You can’t exclude these features. Set up the foundations for a great product and develop your baseline features first.

Prioritise your Performance features

Your performance features are where your competitor analysis and user research come into play. Don’t use your budget to maximise performance features, instead craft a plan which:

  • Provides enough of each feature to reduce any negative impact
  • Provides positive impact for the particular features that your users see as high priority
  • Provides positive impact on features that help you differentiate from the competition

For example, you are building an online storage product. Performance characteristics of a storage product would include capacity, speed, usability and security. Your research suggests speed of transfer should be your unique selling point.

In this instance, you would invest enough into capacity & security to make sure your are comparable with the competition. Then invest more in your speed of transfer to eclipse their offering.

The key is to ensure you invest strategically in these features, rather than trying to be the best at everything and burning your budget.

Differentiate with your Delighter features

Your roadmap should now be in good shape. You’ve created your base product by developing the Baseline features. Then you’ve added real value by focussing on particular Performance features. Now you can add the cherry on top by introducing Delighters.

Delighters differentiate your product from the competition. They make your users go “ooooh”. At their most effective, they can be real game-changers. Select the Delighters that balance well with your Performance features.

Maintain your roadmap

Now you have a great blend of features you can plan future investments to:

  • add new Baseline features to keep your product competitive
  • improve Performance attributes, either bolstering current features or investing in new ones
  • add new Delighter features to keep your audience engaged

Be aware of feature degradation

Over time as the competition catches up and the market saturates, features can degrade in category. Delighters become expected & the tipping point for Performance features rises.

In the early days of cloud storage, 100Mb of free space was a Delighter. As technology advances, this has degraded to a Performance feature, 100Mb would be disappointing. In fact, you might consider 1Gb storage a Baseline feature in today’s marketplace.

Keep checking your roadmap against user research. You can even forecast the degradation of your features to ensure your product is keeping ahead of the market place.

Theory doesn’t have to be jargon!

By using the Kano model to inform your UX roadmap, you can plan and prioritise features. This helps you spend your budget in on the features that provide the ROI you are hoping for.

In conjunction with good research and ongoing measurement it is an effective method to build a great product.

Author: Mike Jongbloet

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