How Bad Features are Born

The really sad part about the message behind this article is that we’ve all seen it. The HiPPO in the room wants to do something because they think it’s a new shiny feature they can sell, or there’s a loud minority that everyone is tired of listening to so someone, with authority, says yes. James Gill outlines several more examples of why bad ideas get built, the one I like best is that they’re perceived to be easy. Too many times I’ve caught-up with the development team to find out earlier in the day someone from another part of the business asked them to start working on a feature, “because it’ll only take a couple hours…”, and when we start talking it through there are numerous questions. No one is at fault here, it’s just that in an effort to deliver we don’t step back and ask, ‘just because we can should we?’.

The 5 Whys of Feature Bloat

Staying with the ‘does this feature make sense’ theme, this article from Hubspot looks at when is the right time to retire features. This is a blow by blow account of why most organizations never look at retiring features and how as product people we can raise awareness around the mindset that some things have seen their time. One big takeaway is that when we’re considering a feature as a team we often underestimate or completely fail to consider what it’s going to take to maintain the feature in the future. We have a rule in our house around buying new things and bringing them into the household, if you want to bring something in, like a new basketball net, something has to go, like the old scooter that no one uses anymore. This might be extreme when considering optimal feature set but it’s one way to make sure we’re not becoming a product where 98% of our user-base only use 10% of our features.

My Daily Learning Ritual

I like this article from Sachin Rekhi because it’s filled with good actionable advice, something I’m always looking for, and it mirrors a lot of the same practices that I’ve developed myself. Like most product people Rakhi and I both use a process of Discovery to learn what we we want to learn about next. There’s so much content out there and there’s so much to know in the product role, you need a way to find and catalog it for later. Once you have it all organized you need to consume it and being organized about your consumption aids retention. I agree with his point that reading it is not necessarily understanding it and to do this you need to feed it back in some way. Feeding it back can take a couple different forms or in Rakhi’s case all three. Share what you’ve learned with your peers and network and discuss it on social media. The best way to internalize something is to form an opinion and write about it.

From Signed-Up To Satisfied

From their podcast to their blog to their social accounts I consume a lot of content from Intercom and Des Traynor is one of my favourite contributors. In this article Des talks about the biggest R, retention. If you can solve the retention issue you can likely solve the referral and revenue issues. The only way to build a sustainable business is having repeat customers, that’s as true in the restaurant business as it is in the web business. Here Des talks about onboarding as the big first step in retention and as your product grows so too does your onboarding process. Don’t ever stop making your product easier to start using.