Feature fatigue

The day I moved all the previous blog posts over to medium I got present to the number of features that I was building into the current version of Hill88 2. I wrote a blog post for each new release, going into much detail for each new feature and each new setting. I haven’t used many of these features and settings myself, nor have users based on many support email where I could clearly see that they couldn’t even find the majority of these features.

I remember back to the time when I was building Hill88 2, it was a period where I thought the more features and settings, the more valuable would Hill88 be. However, answering countless support emails I have learnt that customers would either not have the need for many of these features, and if they would actually want them, they wouldn’t find them. So what’s the point?

When I was setting out to build the upcoming Hill88 3, my intention was to focus on fundamental things like syncing, offline, notifications, simplicity and ease of use, rather than a kitchen sink of features and settings. My mind was focused on these core features that make Hill88 a reliable, beautiful and pleasure to use app.

Once I read through all the old blog posts however, my mind started to drift off into thinking about all these additional features that didn’t even come into my mind for a second before. I started to think…

..damn I forgot about that one, I can’t launch v3 without it.

But is that true?

What if I really launch Hill88 3 with essentials only. No gimmicks, no features that I’m not 100% sure that users would really need them. I’m sure the one or other user would freak out, accuse me of whatever, because one of his/her beloved features would be missing. However on the other side I would delight countless other users with a simple, fast and easy to understand app that does exactly what they need it to do.

Hill88 3 will be different

Here a few examples of how Hill88 3 will be different in terms of features and settings:

Customization settings

With Hill88 2 I was building customization into almost anything. The task list could be customized from one single line to multiple lines per task, projects, tags etc. could be customized to show. The list of customization settings in Hill88 2 is going on and on…

However, rather than to focus on tons of customization settings (believe me there are countless in Hill88 2, which nobody really needs), Hill88 3 will focus on a sensible default behavior.

Feature visibility & accessibility

Hill88 2 offers many options that are accessable via swipe gestures. I wrote Navigate like a pro using gestures and Inbox, our biggest update yet when these additional features (mainly accessible via swipe gestures) were originally released. However, since then I was asked over and over again, if Hill88 would allow to create, edit or delete workspaces, projects and tags, etc., and my answer was yes, yes, and yes. It became quickly clear that users wouldn’t even think about swiping to the right (of course I implemented custom swipe gestures to the right rather than using the default to the left).

In Hill88 3, all these fundamental features aren’t hidden in swipe gestures anymore. For example editing workspaces, projects or tags is accessable via an edit button that is always visible in to top right of the menu screen, allowing to toggle between navigation and editing which gives a clear visual indication to the user. Just like you would expect it to work on iOS.

Hill88 3 — Menu in Navigation Mode
Hill88 3 — Menu in Edit Mode

How to know what features to build?

I love simple apps that do a few things really well.

Thus my focus has so far been mainly around syncing, offline support, notifications, inbox and simplifying the UI. That’s my starting point, just fundamental, essential non gimmicky features that make Hill88 a robust and pleasure to use Asana client.

I have an endless list/ideas of features (many of them in the fundamental category) that I would love to bring to Hill88 but I want to launch as soon as possible, so need to hold myself back to not being carried away and stay focused on my core fundamentals.

User feedback

Everyone says “Listen to your users & build what they ask for”. This approach has its ups and downs though.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” — Henry Ford

Listening to single users, results in feature requests based on their personal way of working, which often is so personal that no other user would know what to do with that feature. Some users (mostly in that category) are very vocal and contact me a lot about their feature ideas. Those feature requests are mostly so complex that you could build a separate product just focusing on that area.

Another issue with user feedback is that users tend to be more vocal about things they don’t like than comunicating in a constructive way of what they would like. This applies to support emails, social media in much the same way than it does to the App Store. It would be super helpful if users would use all these channels not just to criticize, but to actually communicate what they would love to see.

Don’t forget, I’m a human being at the other end of the line, wanting to build the best Asana client for you.

With Hill88 3, I want to look more into features that help the majority of users, managing their Asana tasks in a more efficient & joyful way. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

If you are using Hill88 and you have one feature that you would be really upset about not being in Hill88 3, please drop me an email.