More features always leads to a better product

There is a general understanding between people in the tech world that more features degrade a product. Their rationale is that when you add more features, you dilute the core functionality or destroy the simple UX of doing one thing well.

The web is filled with articles claiming how adding more features killed the product X. They argue that adding more features slows down the product, makes it harder to use, and becomes a source of lot of frustration.

They do hold some merit, mostly because feature bloat, when not treated with good care, kills the UX. But the fault their lies with the designer, not the idea of more features.

If I am using many small products which perform their own functions, I’ll have to keep switching between them and create a very inefficient workflow around getting the work done.

It’ll take a lot of my time, cognitive effort, or precious developer time (to create an integration) to get my work done. I will gravitate towards a solution which grows in scope to eat up all the related chunks of functionality and allowing me to use a product “which just works”.

No need to keep importing and exporting data from one product to other, no need to wait for all the different products to load and finish their voodoo before being usable, no need to even remember multiple account usernames and passwords!

Take the example of WhatsApp.

Everyone with “Do only one thing well” mentality will say that adding a Photo editor or annotator to a chat app doesn’t make sense. But that is what they have done and made it much easier to perform those functions.

If I wanted to share a screen shot and highlight the something in that image, I had to first take a screenshot, then open it in an image editor app, make the necessary changes, save the image to phone, open WhatsApp, again search for the chat where I wanted to send the image, then find that image to be able to share it with that chat.

Compare this process with the current process, you take a screenshot, open your chat, choose the image and their you’ll get all the commonly required editing options. Perform the necessary edits and saving the image shares it. You don’t need to open another app, wait for it to open and hold up precious memory.

But, at the same time, they’ve made sure that you can send an image quickly if you don’t want all the editing options.

Another example is Google.

Do you really want to go back to the old version of Google with no auto-complete feature, no smart integration of Photos, YouTube videos, and Mobile apps in the search result?

What about adding native support for Photos, videos, and Live streams in Twitter? Would you rather click a link, wait for the site/app to load, then wait for it load your photo or video and then start viewing it, or do you like the current see-it-without-going-anywhere version of Twitter?

More features are a good thing, they increase the amount of value consumer can derive from your product, but what really ends up happening is that the makers or the creators keep adding new features, without thinking about how and where do they fit in their product, when to show the new features, and if you need to show them at all.

Remotes of DVD players are a classic example of this kind of problem. Everything is presented to me at once, without any context, hoping that I’ll read the manual and figure out the which button does what.

Better UX for a TV/DVD remote
Better UX for a TV/DVD remote 99% of the times

Now, I don’t have a clear answer for what could be a better solution to this problem, on top of that it is a hardware product which is very difficult to alter after production and shipping.

Maybe, we need to go back and care about our products like our mothers care about us. Providing the best UX is a very tough, but very rewarding problem, which ends up improving lives of everyone around the product.

I know, you have tons of examples where adding features have killed the products, share them here in comments/responses!

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