7T, Inc. - SevenTablets

Stop Chasing Perfection: Avoiding Feature Bloat and How it Prevents Mobile App Success

Read Time: 4 minutes

One of my favorite quotes is from Leonardo Da Vinci who famously said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This remark alludes to the idea that being simple isn’t mundane or lazy; it’s elegant and efficient.

I begin nearly every discovery session discussing this concept with new clients, highlighting the fact that, together, we must deliver clean, high-value features that quickly convey benefits to the user. It’s impractical to chase down every fringe use case. Maintaining a precise, narrow focus is what brings good results and strong ROI.

The average user expects a mobile app or software platform that performs two or three functions exceptionally well. Just take a moment to think of the apps that you use most frequently. It’s true, right? And if any of those interfaces has more than two or three tools on-board, chances are good that you’ve never used all of the available features and functionalities more than once.

Problems arise when “feature bloat” and — the two most dreaded words in the software development world — “spec creep” take hold during a project. You may start out with a central functionality in mind for your mobile app, but suddenly, you’re several weeks or months down the road and you’ve got an app with 23 different features in development. Now, your app lacks a central focus and it’s bogged down with tons of functionalities — most of which will never be utilized by the average user.

Feature bloat can be devastating to a development project, whether it’s a mobile app, desktop software or web app. This phenomenon occurs when a client tries to pack in every conceivable feature that a specific user type could possibly want. They pay little attention to what features they’ll actually use on a fairly regular basis. You end up spending gobs of money and tons of time developing an app that just won’t be profitable because it fails to align with what users actually want or need.

Sadly, this scenario plays out on a regular basis across all regions of the development industry. At 7T, we always advise clients on the prudence of maintaining a narrow, precise focus for their mobile app development project especially for V1, but some simply cannot be dissuaded. In over 100+ development projects, we’ve encountered a few clients who fell into this trap of feature bloat and spec creep. Some had evolving ideas that led to spec creep. Others had a desire to cater to the user’s every possible need, resulting in feature bloat. The one thing they all had in common: they fell short of their full potential because they sought perfection in a misguided way.

These clients would have found greater success if they had focused on 2 or 3 user journeys that could have served as the core of their platform’s functionalities. This would have allowed them faster time to revenue, reduced development cost and finally accelerated the growth of a more passionate early adopter base!

Understanding an App’s Users, Their Needs, Pain Points and Motivations

To succeed in the development of a mobile app, software platform or web-based app platform, you must have a good understanding of the user, their pain points, their needs and their motivations for using your interface. If you fail to accurately grasp any of these concepts, you risk finding yourself in a situation where you’ve developed a platform that’s trying to be all things to all people. And as the saying goes, if you try to be all things to all people, chances are good that you’ll be nothing to anyone.

Consider these simple but key questions as you prepare to begin the development process:

  • Who are my users?
  • What problem, challenge or pain point is that user facing?
  • What is the user’s central objective or primary goal?
  • What tool or feature does the user need to achieve that goal?
  • What’s motivating the user to choose my platform over a competitor’s?

Considering these questions can go a long way toward helping to narrow and refine your focus. It’s virtually always better to expand a software platform or mobile app to include new features in response to user demand versus finding yourself with a bloated, overly-expensive-to-develop platform that’s cluttered with features that ultimately drive away users because they’re left feeling overwhelmed.

Maintaining Your Focus…Even if Others Offer Ideas

In addition to knowing your users and their needs, it’s critical that you stay true to your vision once you’ve developed a solid and narrowly-focused development strategy. Business leaders are often confronted with unsolicited advice and ideas; this is especially true when you’re developing a mobile app or software platform! Unfortunately, these ideas may not always be good ones and more often than not, integration of those ideas can result in feature bloat, spec creep and out-of-control development costs.

One Dallas startup faced this exact scenario. Dottid came to 7T with a concept for an innovative platform to serve the commercial real estate sector. The CEO was routinely confronted with ideas for expanding the platform, but ultimately, he remained true to his original vision. He set out to target a very specific target market and the resulting application achieved that goal with tremendous success — and it was achieved without bloat, without clutter and with nothing more than what the users needed to succeed.

A Software and Mobile App Development Success Story: ConnectUs

ConnectUs is a wonderful example of a company that has succeeded with a very precise, narrow focus to their desktop software and companion mobile app. ConnectUs came to 7T seeking a platform for 1:1 meetings, intended to facilitate stronger employee relationship management. And that’s exactly what 7T’s developers created for this client — a streamlined platform with three key features designed to cleanly address the needs of a specific user type.

The ConnectUs platform includes a 1:1 meeting interface, alongside a user directory and KPI / performance review tools. It’s a fairly narrow toolset, yet it solves a precise problem in a very effective way. Users aren’t overwhelmed by features that they’ll never use; that translates into strong user retention and long term profitability.

In the event that ConnectUs ever does find that their users are seeking new and additional features, they can simply opt to develop a new and improved version of the platform. Subsequent versions V2 and V3 can be developed as they discover more associated value to add to their user base.

At 7T, our development team works with company leaders who are seeking to solve problems and drive ROI through digital transformation. As an innovative Dallas software and mobile app development company, 7T offers collaborative, multi-phased software development services to clients in all business sectors.

7T maintains offices in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Austin, but our clientele spans the globe. If you’re ready to learn more about an enterprise messaging mobile app with ephemeral messaging capabilities or a SayHey Messenger integration for your enterprise platform, contact 7T today. 


Reach out to our team today!

Shane Long

As COO and President of 7T, Shane Long brings experience in mobility that pre-dates the term “smartphone” and the release of the first iPhone. His work has helped revolutionize the growth of mobility by bringing to market one of the first graphics processors used in mobile phones, technology that after being acquired by Qualcomm lived well into the 4th generation of smartphones, as well as helped pioneer the first GPS implementations in the segment. With a strong engineering and business background, Shane understands how the rise of mobility and Predictive Analytics is crucial to greater business strategies geared toward attaining competitive advantage, accelerating revenue, and realizing new efficiencies. As the leader of a B2B mobility solutions provider, he partners with business leaders including marketers and product developers to leverage enterprise mobile applications, big data and analytics, and mobile strategy.

Shane earned a B.S. at Texas A&M (whoop!) and studied mathematics as a graduate student at Southern Methodist University.


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