Creating Better Products By Removing Features


As a product leader you are required to make tough decisions on a daily basis.
While you get feedback, complains and feature requests from your customers, your sales reps, peers, investors, partners and others, it’s up to you to prioritize and decide: what’s in and what’s out. For every decision you make there will be some who would support and others who may not.  
To me, simplicity and consistency are both more important than features and I would typically prefer to keep things simple and well designed than to add more features just for the sake of claiming my product is rich. 
Just finished listening (I use Pocket to listen to my favorite articles while driving) to a great blog post covering this specific topic: 

Why Great Products Do Only One Thing

One of the examples used in this post talks about the first version of the Sony Walkman, one of the most influentials gadgets of all time, and I felt I just had to quote this story here as I think this is the best example of how removing features can actually help products get better
Akio Morita, with his business partner Masaru Ibuka, founded Sony in 1946. Large magnetic tape recorders were the company’s first area of focus, later followed by the first pocket radio. But perhaps his most significant moment of genius involved the creation of the Sony Walkman, the ancestor of the iPod.
In market research, the Walkman aroused very little interest and quite a lot of hostility. ‘Why would I want to walk about with music playing in my head?’ was a typical response. Morita ignored this.
The request for the Walkman had initially come from the 70-year-old Ibuka, the honorary chairman of Sony at that time. Ibuka wanted a small device that would allow him to listen to a full-length opera on his many flights between Tokyo and the US.
Morita asked Sony’s engineers to work on the idea, and they succeeded in achieving what he had briefed them to create — a miniature stereo cassette-player. But they also had managed to include a recording function in the Walkman. However, Morita told them to remove it.
Now, why would you remove a feature that costs an insignificant amount of resources and adds a trivial amount to the final price? Sony’s engineers recommended going with a microphone and recorder because it would add value to the final product. This also means more ways to use the Walkman for.
But Morita argued that a recorder would only confuse the end consumer. “For what is this device? Dictation? Should I record live music? Should I take interviews with it? Should I record my vinyl?”
By narrowing the perceived uses of the device, Sony ensured that the device could do only one thing: listen to music. This way it would be easier for people to adopt a new behaviour, since there was only one thing to adopt. This way you can also understand why the iPods became so popular too.
Source: https://uxplanet.org/why-greatest-products-do-only-one-thing-b57764559d1b 
So next time you are asked to add a new feature, think about the Walkman and make sure not to confuse or overload your users with too many options. 

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