Be Opinionated

27 May 10

A popular saying in software is that 80% of users use 20% of your features. Maybe this is true, but it’s not useful in practice. The problem is it’s never the same 20%. The collective 20%’s intersect with 100% of features, meaning every fringe feature has an audience. This presents a design challenge if you’re looking for a simple interface.

One solution is to design an opinionated interface. Have an opinion on which features define the core experience. That opinion is guided by data, observations, and intuition. But ultimately, it’s a subjective call on how the product should work, and how it should be used.

Using that opinion as a guide, you can design the naive solution — an interface that only includes core features, brazenly omitting secondary features. The result is a product that’s fantastically fast and simple for the core experience, but lacking a depth of features.

The challenge now becomes adding that depth of features without slowing or complicating the core experience. Each additional feature now has a clear cost and benefit. You’re forced to implement features in an appropriate way, or not at all.

Photo by h.koppdelaney under Creative Commons.

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