An article in the latest Harvard Business Review titled Defeating Feature Fatigue reminds me of a post at Creating Passionate Users on breakthrough ideas. The Harvard article goes into analytical detail on how companies continue to add features to their products but in the process severely hurt the usability of their products. Customers may be more motivated to buy the product that offers the most features, but will be less happy with the product once they realize how unusable the product is. Post-sale satisfaction is maximized with the simplest features that provides the best usability (sound familiar, IDEO?) So, there must be a happy medium that optimally trades off sellability with post-sale user satisfaction. The figure to the right demonstrates the HBR authors' theoretical analysis of this trade-off, indicating that the happy medium is--surprise, surprise--not too many features, not too few. Sounds like the Goldilocks Strategy: the number of features is just right.
Last year, the Creating Passionate Users blog posted a very similar looking curve, which is shown here on the left. Look familiar? The point that CPU made was the same as the HBR authors. Usability has a big impact on user satisfaction, and often simplicity provides the best solution for product design. Having the most features might get customers to buy the product when they are considering different items at a store, but users prefer simplicity and ease-of-use after they actually own a product and therefore simplicity provides the most long-term user value. Users don't want complexity and don't want to have to read the manual whenever they want to use one of the product's features. Great scoop on HBR, CPU!