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It's the features that sell products

According to Donald Norman, features always win over simplicity. Given a choice, people will buy the product that does more, even when they realize that it is accompanied by more complexity.

"Marketing experts know that purchase decisions are influenced by feature lists, even if the buyers realize they will probably never use most of the features. Even if the features confuse more than they help."


  • Simplicity Is Highly Overrated Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 10, 2006

See also: Simplicity vs. capability (7) 



Joel Spolsky and Mark Hurst don't quite agree with Don.

Henrik Olsen | December 10, 2006


I would have to agree with all of them I think.

I would seem that, when given the choice, people tend to go for the more feature rich products. But I'll submit, that it's because it's the only way they are going to get the (few) features that they want.

So, to put it another way. A given person wants simple products, with few features. But those features have to be the ones that particular person needs, otherwise the product is considered too simple. A product with a billion features (MS Word for instance) is too simple, if it lacks the 2 features you use the most, otherwise it's overly complex.

Solution: tayloring! Put in the features that each customer wants.

I want a phone - it needs 3 features: phonecalls, phonebook and text messaging. I don't need a camera, a color-screen, polyphonic ringtones, mp3 player, videostreaming ... what have you. (And no - I'm not that old)

My 15 year old nephew can't use the phone I want. He can't imagine a world without those "useless" features I mentioned.

Of course - not all products can be taylored (economically)

Tom Vonsild Jensen | December 11, 2006



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