Forget the Features

You Can't Please Everyone

Web apps, desktop applications, websites that are packed full of features slowly fade away and some end up failing.  This isn't always the case, but after developing both complex and drop dead simple software, I know which I prefer as both a user and developer.  Here is why you don't need "features":

This is Your Software not the Users

Sounds silly doesn't it.  But as soon as you realize that the software you build is your own, then the easier it becomes to develop.  Think about this - if people don't like your product, they can either use another option or build their own.  In fact this often happens.   Don't forget who owns the software.

Features Create More Work

Every feature you create adds another level of complexity.  More user documentation, support, computing resources are required.   Its easy to create new features, but difficult to maintain them.

Features Distract from the Core Product

The best user interface is a simple user interface.  Every feature you add will distract the user and add noise to the experience.  Every new button added to a page gives the user something else they have to scan.   Give the user something to do, rather then look at.

If I listened to the Users

This is write.fm - a very simple notepad app I developed:

This is what it would have looked life if I had listened to all the users:

A bit of a difference.  Two similar but very different applications.  Don't get me wrong, I do and have used Pastebin and like the service, but by simply stripping down all the features you get two very different applications.

I still listen to and love gathering feedback from users - its an essential part of software design, but I don't feel the need to please everyone.  Just remember who owns the software.

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