When it comes to adding a feature to your product, there are countless ways of doing this - and we still mess it up. However, when it comes to killing a feature there isn’t much out there.
As product managers we get excited to take the product to the next level with new features. But deep inside we know there are some features in your product that simply don’t work anymore. You are tracking your product with countless KPIs and metrics to see the health of your product, and its right on the dashboard when a feature isn’t getting clicks or for that matter appreciation (feedback). We either ignore them or simply stop tracking them.
Features that don’t work cost money to support. Worst, just by being present in the product they complicate workflows and risk distracting your users from their core tasks.
You may have heard your customers complain at times: "Your product is to complicated or bulky". There is a high likely hood that there are features sitting in your product that isn't being used that's adding to this bulk and complexity.
Removing a feature isn’t simple. You can’t simply release a new version without a feature. You have to treat removing a feature the same way as adding a new feature to the product:
- does the existing feature align with your overall product vision & strategy.
- deprecating a feature needs user search, interviews and analysis.
- deprecating a feature needs planning, included in the roadmap, and communicate with your users.
To decide if a feature needs to be deprecated:
- check with your users what are they using to solve their problems instead of your feature.
- did the feature miss the market?
- the feature may solve a user problem but its unsustainable for you.
- the feature solves a problem for a very small set of users, but its not a problem worth solving for you.
When deprecating a feature, communication and transparency is key. Ensure you have two set paths, i.e. End of Life(EoL) and End of Support (EoS) and there is sufficient time for the users (if any) to move to other options if they are using this feature.
To ensure a successful EoL and EoS,
- remove the feature so that new users do not have access to this
- de-emphasize the feature in the UI - out of sight out of mind.
- suggest alternatives and help your users migrate
Lastly, make sure this is part of your continuous onboarding strategy, where you are communicating this to your users and helping them migrate through the EoL and EoS timeframe.