“TR: What’s wrong with product design nowadays?
BROWN: Well, one big problem is feature creep. Companies feel pressured to add features, because they want to put a check mark in every check box in the product review magazines. Home stereos are a perfect example. How many people use one-tenth of the features on their stereo? And, in fact, the most expensive home stereos actually have the fewest features, because those users understand that they actually get in the way of the experience. And so I think what we try and do as designers is use real hard evidence of people in the world to show our clients what things are appropriate and what things aren’t appropriate, and help them have the bravery that they need to be able to resist the temptation. ”
I like the word “bravery” in that sentence. Features are a measurable way to see “improvement” in a product. Yet for many products, more features is the worst thing that can happen to it. Search should always be simple. Having a hundred features makes it slow and complicated… why do you think so few people use advanced search, despite the fact that it would probably get them better results? Because a single box will get them good-enough results, and is less painful to use.
Sometimes innovation is removing features, as much as thinking new ones up.