LESSON FROM THE APP GRAVEYARD: LESS FUNCTIONALITY IS MORE USABILITY

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“Card 17 How are we going to prioritise features?”


What goes in and what to leave out

So you’ve started to firm things up and know what your new app is all about.

You are likely to know who it’s for and how it is intended to fit in with the bigger picture of your business.

One of the questions now is to consider what features you might include. Many app projects are ignited by a big initial spark that fires lots of ideas for what needs to go in.

However, it’s often worth turning this around to ask “What do we leave out?

The app graveyard is littered with the bones of ‘nearly’ apps, those that could have made the grade, but somehow missed some evolutionary steps that may have helped them to succeed. For every new app being planned, it’s good to see what we can learn from the graveyard.

A strong vision, MVP and ‘feature creep’

One of the traits shared by many in the app graveyard is being overladen with features that distract or get in the way of delivering core functionality. A blank sheet of paper and an invitation to create a perfect app for an imperfect world may lead to an app being blighted by ‘feature creep’ – bloated with unnecessary features that confuse and confound users.

Apps are more likely to be successful when they do a few things very well. Too many features are likely to stretch out development time, and make it harder for you to respond to feedback and changes in the marketplace quickly.

A good way to make sure that feature creep doesn’t negatively impact the app you wish to create is to adhere to a strong central vision. A good vision needs to set out a common shared purpose to help define what you and your team should be doing.

Whether it’s for strategic or tactical purposes, it should be easy to see how each activity supports the pursuit of the vision. Following the vision prevents ambitions and expectations for the app getting out of hand, helping to preserve core functionality and limiting the gimmicks, whistles and bells that characterise feature creep.

It is also worth considering using the principle of MVP (minimum viable product). MVP helps to guide development enabling more focused functionality in an app that is delivered to market faster while ensuring the factors that govern investment are brought together sensibly.

Common sense rules give your app the best chance of success

Essentially, coupling the vision and MVP together harnesses a set of common sense rules to keep pulling your app project in the right direction and give it the best chance of success.

Many have tried to build Rome in one day; and few things are born fully formed. MVP guides rapid development of the product while balancing the highest return on investment with risk.

A proper vision prevents an app project from becoming unwieldy, illusory and unrealistic. Fundamentally, set a core vision for your app that’s down to Earth. Most importantly stick to it.