A Fantastic Way To Fight Feature Creep

Jared M. Spool
Sep 30, 2015 · 2 min read

“You know what would be a good idea? What if…”

It starts so innocently. One team member suggests something that sounds great. An option or a new capability. Something that would be a nice addition.

Then another person, perhaps someone in a different group who sees another idea. Support sends customer requests asking for a new way to do something. Or a customer writes an email saying how the product would be more helpful with just one little addition that would make their life easier.

That’s how feature creep finds its way into the design. One little suggestion at a time.

The problem is when our process lacks the tools to decide if these are truly good ideas and suggestions. It’s like a balloon that seems to infinitely stretch no matter how much air we put into it. Until it bursts.

What we need is some resistance. Something to push back and say, “No. That’s a good idea but it’s not right for this design. We need to keep on target.”

Scenarios provide resistance

That’s where scenarios come in. When a team designs with scenarios, they now have that resistance.

Once everyone has agreed which scenarios we’re designing for, those scenarios push back on ideas that skirt around the users’ needs. If the new feature idea makes the scenario more delightful or effective, then we keep it. If the new feature doesn’t accomplish the scenario any better than what we have, it stays out of the design. (Of course, we could put it in a “good ideas for later” folder and come back to it, but we’re not including it in this release.)

Scenarios help the team get on the same page about the problems they are solving. It’s easy to walk through a scenario with a proposed design idea and play-act what the user’s experience will be like. It gives us a lens into how our proposed ideas will change that experience.

Scenarios are a fantastic way to fight feature creep.

Jared M. Spool

Written by

Maker of Awesomeness at @CenterCentre/@UIE. Helping designers everywhere help their organizations deliver well-designed products and services.

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