Integrating feature requests without destroying your product

After being in the UX industry for years, I’ve discovered 2 important things:

When a client asks for a feature, rather than responding, “Sure! Let me just toss that in here!”, an experienced product designer says, “That’s great feedback! Can you explain how you’d apply that feature and how it’d improve your experience?”

“Sometimes feature requests are actually usability issues in disguise”

When companies put a strong focus on integrating client feedback, sometimes their products can eventually become so feature laden that they sink. There are ways to integrate feature requests and take a user-centered approach without destroying your product.

1. Listen to client feedback with an interpretive ear, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper to identify underlying problems

Listen beyond the words your clients are saying and the features they’re requesting, and get to the root of the problems they’re trying to solve.

2. Sometimes feature requests are actually usability issues in disguise

I’ve encountered many situations in the past where a client requests a new feature, and after some digging and discussion we realize making some tweaks to an existing feature would solve the problem — there was just a usability stumbling block getting in their way.

3. Sometimes the product features clients request are actually new product offerings in disguise

“I wish the product would do this. If you’d add these features, I could use this to do Y.”

All client feedback doesn’t have to be fed into a primary product when the problems that need to be solved could be handled with a separate product with a laser focus. Bloating your flagship product with a million features will lead to client frustration. Creating a new product that solves a client problem with ease? That’s gold.

“More features do not equal a better product.”

4. Focus your energy on hearing the users’ needs, not the users’ wants

“I want to be able to do this task more quickly” could really mean, “The feature I need to access needs to be in a more prominent position on the screen.”

Or it could mean, “The feature I need to access should be a standalone solution because it’s part of my daily workflow, and digging through a bloated product to find it is killing my experience.”

5. More features do not equal a better product

“Don’t just give clients what they ask for — solve their problems.”

Products in their purest, simplest form are a thing of beauty. Any designer in the world can create a product and snap a ton of features on top of it, around it, and under it. It takes a skilled product designer and UX pro team to pare down a product to its simplest form until it’s a clean, elegant, easy-to-use solution.

So listen to your clients. Respond to your clients’ needs. But don’t just give them what they ask for — solve their problems.


Originally published at blog.invisionapp.com on September 16, 2015.