Less Is More When It Comes To Adding Features To Apps

One of the cardinal sins of software development is bloating an app with too many features. It's tempting to add a whole bunch of customer-facing features in to address the needs of everybody. But we humans are easily overwhelmed by too many choices, which is why it's important to keep apps lean. If you've built an app that is bursting from the seams with features, IT analyst firm Gartner has a few tips on how to put it on a diet.

Designing mobile app image from Shutterstock

Apps are often designed by people who are ultimately not the end-users and, as such, didn't take the time to understand their needs. This can lead to app makers cramming every little feature into their creations. According to Gartner research director Magnus Revang:

"Creating a user experience can become a case of ticking off a list of business requirements, adding one feature after another without considering what features are most important to users."

He noted that ideally, 20 per cent of the time dedicated to an app development project should be devoted to research that will generate insight on user needs.

It is worth noting that all software reaches a point when adding a new features will ruin the user experience for current and future users. If you've reached this point with your app, it doesn't mean you have to scrap it entirely. Revang recommends the following strategies:

  • Removing features: You can't please everybody, so don't even try to. Identify all of your app's dependencies — both human and systemic — and slowly phase features out. If necessary, find another solution to replace the functionality you have removed, which leads us to the next strategy.
  • Compartmentalisation: You can always spin some functionalities out into a new app with fewer features. This could reduce complexity and training needs and will allow different development teams to focus on the varying needs of disparate user groups.
  • Reframing: Remove a feature from the front end of an application and incorporating it into the process of using the application, so that it appears only when relevant. An example of this is an Advanced search function that only presents itself when a choice is relevant to a given user.

[Via Smarter With Gartner]


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