Removing features

“Lukas Mathis writes”:ignorethecode.net/blog/2010… about removing features:

"You don't _have_ to try to please everybody and eventually create an application that is liked by nobody. In fact, since your users are in all likelihood in a situation where they can switch applications easily, and since they probably are not locked in by the need to open a specific file format in its native application, it might be a really bad idea for you to go down the 'simply add up all the requested features' route of application design."

He also links to “my Wii Transfer survey”:www.manton.org/2009/07/w… so I thought I’d post a quick follow-up. I eventually did remove a feature, and the survey to customers served as a nice sanity check that the feature wasn’t heavily used. The interesting part, to me, is that the feature I removed was the entire 1.0 product for Wii Transfer. Literally everything that 1.0 did is now gone.

It’s been two weeks so far without any complaints. I like to think that it removes a distraction from the app — one less place in the app that could lead the customer down the wrong path. And hopefully it’ll eliminate a tiny part of my support load, as no one can ask me questions or have problems with that feature again!

On an internal company mailing list I once wrote:

"Products that don't exist yet have a way of attracting new features because everyone sees the potential in something that has no form".

I was talking about resisting the urge for everyone on the team to pile on their favorite features before 1.0, but I think this applies to apps with a minimal design as well. A simple app shows promise. A cluttered app with too much going on looks “done”, and sends a message that it is mature and maybe going in a different direction than what the user wants. In that way, the irony is that removing features (the wrong features) may actually make an application more appealing to new users.

Manton Reece @manton
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