Feature creep: the reason why apps get too complicated and how to stop it

Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

What does a dog chasing its own tail have in common with a teenager? They both have a lot of energy, and no strategy.

This, I find, is a very dangerous state of affairs. When we have a lot of energy, but no plan, that’s when we do stupid things. This is as true of life as it is of tech.

When product teams keep producing new features, but lose sight of why they are doing it, that’s when you get “feature creep.” We’ve all come across it: it’s when an app has so much going on, that we get confused and leave.

For example, when you get on to a new website, and then get presented with cookie consent, a banner ad and a pop up for to fill in your name, email, zip code and job title, you will probably leave.

Too many features put users off, but they also cost to make and you have to pay cloud providers like AWS to keep them.

Memology.co

So why do companies make useless features? It’s not only start-ups that are at fault (I just thought this image was funny). Corporates are often worse offenders. Just look at the over-designed Facebook app!

Feature creep happens when a team is determined to stay productive, but loses sight of its strategy.

It is easier to keep making things than to say to your investors or corporate bosses that you are taking time to pause, review and think.

We live in an age which values productivity over reflection, and we see this play out when the apps on our phones get too busy.

So how do we stop this? The product team version of a yoga retreat is going back to basics. Ask these fundamental product development questions:

  • What problem is our product solving?
  • Who are we solving it for?
  • Who is willing to pay to solve this problem?
  • What other solutions do they have to this problem?

The bottom line is: keep your eyes on the user, not the product.

Feature creep happens when you get obsessed with the product and forget the user. It should be the other way around.

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CEO & Founder of Tech for Non-Techies. Podcast host. Board Member, University of Chicago Alumni Chicago Booth MBA. techfornontechies.co

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Sophia Matveeva

Sophia Matveeva

CEO & Founder of Tech for Non-Techies. Podcast host. Board Member, University of Chicago Alumni Chicago Booth MBA. techfornontechies.co

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