Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Voices That Matter

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

When features don’t matter

If you’re trying to make an appealing product, getting rid of features seems risky, but it has long-term benefits.

In 2006, three researchers—Roland T. Rust, Debora Viana Thompson, and Rebecca W. Hamilton—conducted an experiment to see whether features or usability mattered most to customers.

They divided participants into two groups and asked them to choose between two digital video players—one with seven features, the other with twenty-one features. Participants from the first group were only allowed to read about the products before they made their choice. The second group got a chance to use one of the products (either the high-feature model or the low-feature one) before making their choice.

Two-thirds of participants in the “no use” group chose the high-feature model. But only 44 percent of participants who used the high-feature model went on to choose it—and they were less confident that they had made the right choice.

Their conclusion: feature lists sell so long as customers don’t get a chance to use the product. But once consumers have used a product, their preferences change. Suddenly usability matters very much.

Today, word of mouth, user reviews, personal recommendations, and product trials are becoming more important than mass advertising. Customers find out about products from other users—people who’ve learned to value usability. There’s a strong argument for cutting features, rather than piling them on.

Overburdening your product with features is likely to decrease mainstream users’ satisfaction and hurt sales in the long run.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account