Product Management – Removing Zombie Features

Learnings, Uncategorized

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Usually no body thinks of removing old features which are not much used . Reason is mostly as we always concentrate on new and revenue generating features. Knowing the value by removing a old feature not in use is not thought about much.

There might be many good or bad reasons for remiving a old feature. Some of them which cross my mind are:

1. Simplified customer experience

Additional modules or menu items or settings make it difficult for new customers to find what is important. Even for experienced customers, every additional option adds “cognitive load” and makes a service feel less delightful, and more like work.

2. Reduced “load time” and increased speed of the servic

Sites with fast page load have higher conversion rates and more love from Google for search ranking. Most importantly, fast sites and apps respect our customers’ valuable time.

But, you may say, why not just hide the features for new or casual customers, or move them somewhere that only power users will see them? Unfortunately, doing so wouldn’t accomplish these other benefits:

3. Improved stability and reliability

Features introduce bugs unless they are regularly tested. The funny thing about software is that it often is intertwined in ways that make the consequences of changes difficult to predict. A decade ago, software companies would have employed armies of QA testers to do end to end tests on an app before releasing changes. The world is different now: we leverage test automation in addition to focused QA testing, and we move faster and introduce more innovations to market. However, despite best efforts, unintended consequences pop up, which take time and effort to diagnose and resolve.

4. Improved ability to innovate

Features add to code (software) complexity, and thus slow our ability to build or fix what is most important.

5. Ease of hiring and training new developers

Simpler code results in a lower learning curve.

6. Lowered cost of technology upgrades

When companies upgrade their underlying technology, features often need to be rebuilt. While I was at Urbanspoon, we upgraded the website to be responsive (so that our pages resize gracefully for tablets and phones). This required many if not all of our website features to be rebuilt.

However before you proceed make sure you have

  • segmented your usage data
  • informed and spoken to your most local and vocal customers
  • tested thoroughly
  • removed features in groups – impact is lesser

 

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