Posts Tagged ‘software features’

Releasing Software in Stages

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Software FeaturesThe period during which a software product is designed, built, and released only constitute the childhood years for a software product.   As your user base grows, so will the plethora of requests for new features.    The process of choosing which features to release first and how fast a new set of features should be released can be a tricky game.    Pushing too many features down the pipeline can overwhelm and alienate your current user base.   However, the more features you get into your product, the more chance a potential new customer will find something they like.

But the old saying of the whole being more than the sum of its parts can be applied to software.  Designers can potentially add features in a poorly manner if they don’t consider the overall architecture of the software.   We see this happen sometimes with companies get too big to support their own weight and they end up listening to the marketers rather than the users.    Sure, sales might go up, but the product won’t gain any traction in the marketplace because the buzz on it will be negative.   The takeaway here is that features should be added in an organized, deliberate manner that respects the spirit of the product as a whole.   There is a Goldilocks zone that keeps the software fresh, healthy, and usable without resigning it to sit on its laurels or inundating it with every bell and whistle.

The Fear of Upgrading

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Upgrading SoftwareThere was a time, during the early years of the PC, that innovation came fast and furious.   Then it happened again in the 90′s with the rise of the Internet.   During these golden years, one could be optimistic that the next version of a software package would be chalked full of new and exciting features.  Back then upgrading was something anticipated.  Was it like Christmas Morning?  Rarely.  But back then it wouldn’t be that far fetched to compare the anticipation of installing a new version of software to sitting down to a well-reviewed movie, or a weekly installment of one’s favorite television show.   

Now that the IT sector is more matured, and the marketers are more motivated than the developers, software upgrades have become something scary.   I’ll certainly let a new version of a major product situate itself in the marketplace for a few months before I’ll adopt it.  I like to give it a chance to exercise its bugs out, and I want to confirm that it has new features I want.  

Unfortunately, often the upgrades will be something that benefit the marketers more than the users.   You don’t have to be paranoid to envision that the new version will be littered with cross-promotional content and new upsell features. is young enough that its easy for us to include new features with each revision.  We don’t have an ego when it comes to knowing which features are most needed and our customers guide us most of the way when deciding which features get included in a each revision.   The trick will be remembering what’s important when the total feature set catches up with our capabilities.   I think it will always hold true that if a new features isn’t exciting (to at least some portion of the customer base), then it probably can wait.