Reading: Drop Nice-to-have Features

This week’s reading exhorts us to be very careful with adding features. It suggests that, once a list of potential features is made, it’s a good idea to cut that list in half, and cut what remains in half again. Decide what is truly essential to the operation of the application, and leave everything else out. Unessential features get in the user’s way when they’re trying to accomplish their goals.

One way of thinking about the problem is a variant on the 80-20 rule. 20% of the application’s development time covers 80% of the essential functionality. Or, 80% of the development time is used developing features that only are used 20% of the time. The author suggests just spending the 20% of the time, and using the other 80% to take vacations, get more sleep, or develop other software. “Aim Low.”

As an exercise, go through old work that you’ve done, and do some “interface surgery” on it. See what you can remove from the interface with an eye to make it more streamlined and easier to use.

Lastly, the author suggests that frequently, the features you had in your nice-to-have list, will not be what your users are complaining is missing. It will be a number of other problems instead. Focus on what’s not working for your users, and forget about your own list of nice-to-haves.

Reading: Drop Nice-to-have Features

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