Features are not the answer

Success is just one feature away. Or is it?

Features are not the answer

It seems all of us designing and writing software tend to think what makes our software great is clever features. Ease of use is good, design is good, but features are the real meat of our products. Features are the thing that sells and the driving force of our success.

I believe this is result of the oh-so-common developer's bias. For many of us it is easier to write more code than to face the real people whose lives we impact,

We are not alone in professional biases:

  • Ask a psychiatrist to help and you will get a psychoactive drug
  • Ask a surgeon to help and something will be cut
  • Ask a psychologist to help and you will get to talk for a long time

Too many features hurt your success

Your software should do one thing and one thing very well. Everything unnecessary should be ruthlessly cut out.

Version 1 of Full Convert had a powerful macro recording feature. I thought it really makes the software stand out. Nobody ever mentioned it. I ripped it out and simplifed the UI as the feature was no longer there. The sales doubled.

The real thing: getting the job done

If we want customers to get their job done the first time they use our software, there must be nothing but a single way to achieve that job - and nothing else.

In this day of distractions, a slightest problem or uncertainty of how to proceed will cause people to abandon your software and look elsewhere.

Bonus: pricing model trumps features

In 15 years I write and regularly release software products, I can't remember a single feature that made huge impact on the bottom line. But - pricing change absolutely did double my income in a day. That happened multiple times, actually.