Is Your New Feature Worth It?

When you’ve created a successful application, it is tempting to relentlessly add new functionality. You think that if you stop building, you’ll fall behind. New features bring in new business. They show your existing users that you are still active and adding value.

However, it’s important to step back and consider how new features will affect your existing system. New features mean new complexity, both technically and for your business. So, how do you know if your new feature is worth it? Here are two questions to consider.

Will It Be Used?

Being in a position where you have the chance to add features to your software is great. That means people see the value of your application and are using it. Don’t forget that last part: People are using your application. That means you shouldn’t have to guess what people want anymore. Ask them.

Ask your users where they feel pain using the existing system. Ask them what they wish they had. Run your big ideas past them to see if there is buy-in. It’ll save you a lot of time and a lot of money to find these things out before you build a feature.

Does It Fit?

When you designed the original application, you applied your vision to it. You were thinking about the short term, but you were also considering the future. The software should support your short-term goals while making it easy to move toward your long-term vision.

There are a few ways to tell if a new feature aligns with your vision. Features that don’t align with your long-term vision will fight you through development. You’ll find yourself doing significant re-work to existing workflows. “Un-aligned” features will often require restructuring your data. Inevitably, they will come in over-budget. Lean on and trust your developers to help you decide if a new feature fits the vision.

What to Work on Instead

There are plenty of ways to add value to your application without adding new features. For example:

  • You could improve your developers’ quality of life by giving them time to update your application’s dependencies. This not only makes it faster to add new stuff later, but it often improves application security and performance.
  • You could streamline existing workflows. You have users who believe your application enhances their life in some way. But there’s always room for improvement. Find out where users get confused, and fix it. Find out where or why users leave the application, and improve it. Sometimes, the most value isn’t added by inserting some new hotness, but rather by tinkering with what already exists.

Building a successful software product is exciting. Don’t let that excitement overtake and derail your great product. Refine it and add new things, but only when it makes sense.