Feature creep

This post is by Seth Godin from Seth’s Blog

  1. Adding another feature is cheap compared to the benefits it offers to new users or existing ones.
  2. Once a feature is added, it is almost never removed.
  3. When enough features are added, the system breaks down and fails.

This isn’t just software. It’s the menu at the diner. It’s the buttons on the dashboard of a car. It’s the variety of choices parents are offered of which dates summer camp starts or ends. Anything where a lot of hard work can be slightly improved simply by adding an innocuous option.

At one point, Yahoo had 183 links on their home page. Google, which had two, ultimately grabbed all of their search traffic. The app on my phone can now open the trunk of my car if I press enough buttons.

Features are useful (that’s why we call them features). And yes, serving the underserved and the unseen is important. But creep cannot continue forever. At some point, there’s system bankruptcy and the cycle begins again.

While we might not easily say no to a new feature, we can be smart and proactive when it comes time to clear the slate and start over.