Featuritis: You’re Ruining Your Product!

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Featuritis is the tendency to add features continually to a product at the cost of its usability. In this video, we talk about how Featuritis may creep up on your product and inadvertently ruin a good thing.

Don Norman, author of the famous 'Design of Everyday Things' talks about the major reasons for Featuritis  issues stemming from:
1) Pressure from Competition
2) Pressure from Users

Expert, Kathy Sierra also mentions the dangers of this insidious disease by illustrating the 'Featuritis Curve'.  In the following animated video, we explain these concepts in a simple & fun way to help  Product Leads and Entrepreneurs avoid this ever-so-common pitfall!

Check it out and leave us some feedback! ​

Featuritis - Animated Video

​Transcript (Autogenerated):

The other morning I woke up and had one of those “MOMENTS”. I said to myself -- “ You know what? Today is the DAY. Today is the day that --- I’m gonna start being PRODUCTIVE!”

So – I pick up my phone and I download the most Popular Productivity App.

And while it’s downloading… I’m thinking to myself “Man, I can’t WAIT to use this app. This app is gonna transform me from “Mr. Slacker to Mr. Super Performer”

And now finally: Installation complete.. . I open it... It’s running and ….. I can’t figure out how to use the damn thing.

There was just WAY too much going on. All I see is a clutter of several icons, buttons, and even a few graphs --- All on the same screen. Suddenly I feel --- pretty dumb. This simple app -- is seemingly beyond me.

I was supposed to feel like Mr. Super Performer --- Instead, I feel like Mr. Super Stupid.

And now - to avoid a gut-shot to my ego -- I jump to the user reviews to see if I have any fellow compatriots are feeling as stupid as I do.

And that’s when I noticed somewhat of a pattern --- when the app was still new to the market -- user reviews were along the lines of “Pretty good -- But needs more features!!” -- A year later -- Reviews said “Excellent! I love this app!” -- Fast forward to today and people are saying “Your apps sucks! Way too complex!”

Wha--What happened there? First users wanted more features… That’s fair. So they were given more features. Now users are super happy! Awesome!!

BUT THEN ..they were given even more features… Cause hey WHY NOT - WE CAN MAKE THEM HAPPIER! But instead of being HAPPIER -- users are frustrated… What’s going on?

This here --- is the “Featuritis Curve”

Featuritis happens when features are continually added to a product at the cost of usability.

NOW Don Norman talks about “Featuritis” in his famous book “Design of Everyday Things” --- where he states the major reasons for featuritis

1) Pressure from Competition

2) Pressure from Users

Competitive Forces:

‘ OH NO! so-n-so company added X-n-Y features! We better add these features before our users abandon us! ’

You’ve probably heard this from your sales team. Resist the temptation to build features based on your competition!

In her book Different, Harvard Professor Moon states that when companies do this to simply increase sales --all they end up doing is --- shooting themselves in the foot.

Competitive Driven Design -- DOES NOT solve real customer problems.

Instead -- Validate if the feature is needed! Perform experiments, split test! Dont add complexity when you dont really need to


Pressure from Users

Your user think they know what they want --- but they really dont.

Hear me out --

Researchers from MSI VALIDATED THIS -- They conducted experiments that showed that -- before USING the product consumers were WOW’d by the feature list -- but after using the product -- they were like “nahhh -- We rather the more usable version with LESS features”

As human beings -- we tend to be DRAWN to capability --- but in Practice -- we prefer USABILITY

So when your users tell you “Hey - you should add this really cool feature -- I’d totally upgrade if you do!”

Don’t just blindly listen to them. You may just sacrifice churn rate to make a TEMPORARY sale.

Now -- Don’t get me wrong -- Hear your customers out, by all means. But DO NOT let them DICTATE to you!

Steve Jobs said that innovation starts with saying “No”. No to all but only the crucial features

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About the author

Shawn Dexter

Shawn Dexter is a Product Manager, Entrepreneur & Software Developer. He is passionate about innovation management & technology.

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