Blog Post: Too Many Features In Your Product

Imagine a new restaurant opens up down the street, so you take your family out one evening to check it out. After being seated, take a gander at the menu and notice it is filled to the brim with items. Double-digit amounts of items in all the categories: appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts, you name it. You can’t make your mind up, and even if you do there’s a sinking feeling that you probably made the wrong decision. Too many choices diminishes your experience.

Forgive me if you have heard that analogy a different way, but you get the point. 

After reading this article from Pando Daily over the weekend, I was reminded of many of the issues mobile development companies have today (including my own). Product decisions are made based upon words such as cost and value instead of single features people want to use.

At the risk of upsetting my dev architect friends, I run into this issue many times when talking to them. Complexity is not necessarily the hallmark of well designed software. It’s nice if you are designing a telecommunications billing system, but not if you are trying to make our mobile devices more valuable. 

The Pando article references Dropbox as a product that focuses on one feature (the feature is very robust, but you get my drift) and they make it great. They have amassed over 100 million users willing to pay for their services because they made cloud storage easy and secure.

Now, not every product can be successful with just one great feature. As a result, the rest of us have to figure out what the right amount of smaller features to package into the right compilation that is attractive to the customer. 

That’s when stakeholders often make a mistake. Maybe the development framework is really expensive to release multiple applications, so they must find a way to cram as much in a product (and release) as they can. The first release is the most important, or so they are told, so we must develop until our fingers bleed!

It’s just not true. If you have that idea that works, you can have lightweight releases that have focused development on one or two great features that provide something your users want.

Here’s the most important part of this post. If your idea doesn’t sell, that’s okay. Start with another idea, make that feature amazing and see how your users feel about it. Failing fast, as they say, is much better than spending a ton of time to making a lot of features that nobody is going to use.

Take a hard look at your roadmap. Are you trying to cram too much into a release? Have you thought through the value and necessity of each feature? Finally, is it all truly vital to have them all together?

Asking those questions will show your team value in the decisions you make and your releases smoother. 

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